An important subplot of the 2016 campaign was a decision CNN made early on to sideline its existing stable of conservative commentators and hire a new roster of Donald Trump loyalists, as a counterweight to his liberal critics. The conundrum they faced was actually a microcosm of the entire election: The most committed conservatives and Republicans in the country considered the GOP frontrunner, and eventual nominee, unacceptable. But rather than allow that central reality to be reflected on air, CNN erased it, and instead broadcasted an alternative reality in which there was a broad pro-Trump consensus on the right.
It would be an insult to bad punditry to say the commentary these Trump loyalists offered was, and continues to be, terrible. Because Trump shifts positions on issues constantly, it is incumbent upon his loyalists to be wildly inconsistent and unprincipled themselves. Because Trump was the most aberrant presidential candidate in modern history, it is incumbent upon his loyalists to use whataboutist fallacies as first-line argumentative defenses.
And the good news is we’re about to get a whole lot more of it! In an article titled “Mainstream media puts out the call for pro-Trump columnists,” Washington Post’s Paul Farhi finds editors at major publications are in the market for the kind of opinion writers who will, say, demand that Hillary Clinton shut down her family’s charitable foundation, then turn around and say Trump’s conflicts of interest are completely tolerable. Or tout Trump’s campaign against elites, and tout the plutocrats he’s recruiting to run the government.