It’s worth connecting the recent changes that have gone on in Trumpworld, to get a full picture of how the Republican Party’s reliance on dedicated conservative media, which has worked hard to construct and maintain its own separate reality, has finally resulted in what looks like a complete unraveling.
First up is the hiring of Breitbart News’s Steve Bannon to be the new campaign CEO. Bannon has reportedly determined that the answer to Trump’s sinking poll numbers and high negatives is to up the personal attacks against Hillary Clinton, as well as to hug even tighter the campaign’s ethno-nationalist platform. That is to say, the campaign is repudiating any suggestions from other Republicans for a general-election “pivot” to the middle. Breitbart is literally helping run Trump’s campaign.
But also consider the reports that Trump is now relying on ousted Fox News founder Roger Ailes for debate advice. In response to allegations against Ailes of decades of sexual harassment, Trump spoke in his defense and attacked the many women who had accused him: “I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them.” It’s difficult to see exactly how such an attitude will be useful in preparing to debate the first woman major-party nominee.
If we add in Trump’s longstanding close relationship with Fox News personality Sean Hannity, we can see how the right-wing media bubble has overtaken Republican politics and turned it into a self-contained universe. The party’s leader is responding to campaign problems by retreating further into it, to repeat all the same mistakes that got him to this point in the first place.