There’s a lot of great gossip in Robert Draper’s latest piece for The New York Times magazine about the ongoing Trump-fueled civil war in conservative media. We learn, for instance, that Trump and Ann Coulter are especially close, that she helped him with his “Mexican rapist” announcement speech, and that Trump has given her jewelry and a free membership to Mar-a-Lago. “Trump has made my life better in so many ways,” Coulter tells Draper.
Draper writes that Trump has “implicitly encouraged” his supporters to consider themselves “part of the campaign team,” so it should come as no surprise that these members of the media (I’m careful to not say “journalists”) are acting like campaign staffers. And it should especially come as no surprise that some of them may be eyeing positions in the Trump White House, should he win in November.
Similarly, while we’ve known for a while that Trump gets his talking points from conservative radio, Draper’s piece lays out just how intertwined they are. Here’s Draper on Hannity, for instance:
I asked Hannity if it was true that, as a Trump confidant had told me, he wished to be considered as a potential Trump White House chief of staff. “That’s news to me,” he insisted, adding a politician’s practiced nondenial denial: “I have radio and TV contracts that I will honor through December 2020.” Nonetheless, Hannity’s service to the Trump campaign well exceeds that of ritually bashing Clinton and giving Trump free airtime. He has offered private strategic advice to the campaign. The same Trump confidant told me of at least one instance in which Hannity drafted an unsolicited memo outlining the message Trump should offer after the Orlando nightclub shooting in June.
This helps explain why the elusive Trump pivot never happened: Trump may be listening to people like Reince Preibus with one ear, but Hannity and Coulter have the other, and they’re the ones who seem to have control over the puppet strings.
This should also disqualify Hannity as a theoretically objective source on Trump’s supposed (and fake) opposition to the Iraq War. Even if the chief of staff thing really is just a rumor, the fact that Hannity has taken on the mantle of unofficial aide should disqualify his defense of Trump completely.