Thank Matt Drudge and Sean Hannity for Hillary Clinton’s Victory

Posted by Editor at October 12, 2016

Category: Opinion

In light of the recent drama surrounding Donald Trump’s comments about women in 2005, it is becoming clear that he no longer has a path to victory. It is possible that he never did. I estimate that in the general election his popular vote will not exceed 40%, and may even be as low as 34%. The timing of the release of the damaging video could not have been worse for the Trump campaign. Not only did it happen before the 2nd debate, it happened the weekend before early voting commenced in many states. Over the weekend, many Republicans distanced themselves from Trump or condemned his remarks, with some going so far as to say he should drop out of the race. Republicans running in close races in swing states are now in a lose-lose situation. Either they stay with Trump and anger women and independent voters upset with Trump’s blatant misogyny, or they denounce Trump and risk the rebellion of Trump’s Republican supporters. House Speaker Paul Ryan attempted to walk a fine line, saying he could no longer defend Trump but not going so far as to unendorse him. It should be noted that until last weekend, “unendorse” wasn’t a word. On Tuesday, Trump went on the offensive, attacking people in his party who have denounced him, including Paul Ryan, John McCain and others. He did this throughout the day on Twitter, and then in front of millions of viewers on the O’Reilly Factor. A circular firing squad has now formed within the Republican Party, which has descended into chaos. I imagine this is the worst-case scenario for the Republican Party, or as I like to call it, Reince Priebus’ waking nightmare. Before this, Republicans still had a chance to keep the Senate. Now, the Senate seems almost certainly lost and the House is now in play. Even though Trump’s numbers had been dropping in many polls before the video, they have cratered since. Just a week ago it was unthinkable that the GOP could lose control of the House. In one weekend the entire election has been flipped.

It didn’t have to be this way. Before the start of the primary, the Republican Party boasted what was called by operatives “the deepest bench in party history.” The roster included candidates such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush and many more. New leaked emails reveal the Clinton campaign staffers feared any of them could potentially beat Hillary in a tightly contested general election. They most feared Rubio, according to the emails. Indeed, at this point, all of them poll better against Hillary Clinton than where Trump currently is today. Furthermore, a Marco Rubio or John Kasich candidacy would have helped secure a key swing state victory. Now it appears that the overstuffed field simply divided the establishment and moderate votes within the party, allowing Trump to secure the remainder, easily propelling him to the nomination. The RNC’s failure to winnow the field before New Hampshire and Iowa was a major factor. Trump still needed to win enough delegates, however. So how was Trump able to secure between 35 and 45 percent of the vote in most states? For one thing, his inflammatory rhetoric about immigration and about his opponents in the “establishment” won him the admiration of the Tea Party faction within the GOP. This is the faction perpetually disappointed with the Republican-controlled Congress. This is the GOP Congress mind you, that has promised for four years to repeal Obamacare, stop amnesty and illegal immigration, and shut down the government if necessary. After one unsuccessful and even disastrous attempt to shut down the government, the GOP has basically defaulted on their promises. As a result, the Tea Party faction was spoiling for a revolt, and Trump quickly became their standard-bearer. He did this by championing what are largely viewed by the rest of the country as unreasonable or at least unrealistic demands. The massive size of Trump’s rallies indicated how well his message resonated with a large segment of the Republican base, especially with poor, rural whites. Trump’s victory in the primary was not a foregone conclusion, however. He would not have succeeded had he not been aided and abetted by almost the entire media.

Trump received thousands of free hours of coverage from almost every media outlet because it drove ratings, to the detriment of every other candidate. Some estimates suggest the free media coverage Trump received in the primary was worth over a billion dollars. Simply being on TV every day for months is invaluable for any politician as name recognition is one of the most important keys to victory. Trump had name recognition to begin with, so the constant coverage pressed his advantage even more. The free media coverage was given for more than one reason, however. The Clinton camp always hoped that Trump would win, even though their campaign events were receiving minimal coverage by comparison. They felt they would have the easiest path to victory against Trump, one of the most polarizing candidates in history. At this point it seems obvious that the media establishment made the calculation that by covering Trump non-stop, not only could they profit from the ratings boosts, but they could also guarantee a Clinton victory. I think this calculation was made because Trump’s baggage, his history, would inevitably come out in a general election. It’s entirely possible the video that was released last week, as well as other videos yet to come out, were already known by Clinton allies. I suspect it is highly likely that another video will be released before this next weekend, just in time for the next group of states about to open early voting. The media built him up because they knew they could destroy him. Amazingly, thousands and thousands of hours of free news coverage was not the biggest factor in the fight for the Republican nomination. It was the work of Matt Drudge, Sean Hannity, the Koch Brothers, and the rest of the right-wing media.

Even though they now apparently fear a Trump presidency, the Koch Brothers share the blame for Trump winning the nomination. Since the early 1980’s, the Koch brothers have been funding right-wing think tanks, media and politicians. Since the 80’s, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity had been working to influence the conservative movement. In the 90’s, Matt Drudge and Fox News took off, propelled by the massive publicity surrounding the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Overnight they became right-wing media favorites. They all kicked into high gear in 2008 after President Obama won the election, in large part by co-opting Ron Paul’s Tea Party movement of the same year. The Koch’s poured millions of dollars in political efforts in state after state, building the Tea Party into a powerful political force by appealing to the worst instincts of the Republican base. The right-wing media, led by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Fox News, engaged in demagoguery on a daily basis attacking Obama for everything he said and did. Matt Drudge became the go-to news website for any conservative on the internet, and as it gained momentum became a political talking point on its own. Aided by Drudge, Breitbart News touted itself as the right wing alternative to the liberal media, following an almost identical path. All of these media figures and groups worked to completely radicalize at least half of the Republican voter base, dominating the conservative news as well as the platform of the GOP. This is why the Tea Party faction came into existence in the first place. This is why by the time of the 2016 Republican primary, this faction was furious with the establishment. It is why they were ready for anyone willing to say the things they wanted to hear: they had been radicalized for 30 years to the point where a demagogue like Donald Trump sounded perfectly reasonable and necessary.  Two people share special blame for the primary result, of course: Matt Drudge and Sean Hannity. They have been his tireless cheerleaders and defenders since Trump first made his incendiary comments and polls showed Republican voters loved it. Drudge, with his massive internet traffic, and Hannity, with his millions of followers, have promoted Trump nonstop without really ever criticizing him. Nothing Trump says or does is a bridge too far for them. Their influence alone probably sealed the nomination for Trump. In the post-mortem analysis after this election is over and Hillary Clinton is planning her inauguration party, how many people will thank them for their efforts?

Daniel Greene is the founder and editor of and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Hillsdale College.

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