Based on most polls, as well as anecdotal evidence gathered from my Facebook feed, I see no evidence that Trump’s core supporters are swayed by the barrage of daily headlines or twists and turns in the investigation, which I guess is no surprise. They have long since hitched their wagons to Trump’s star, which means swearing off all media outside the Fox News alternate reality bubble, as well as willful indifference to any developments in the investigation, including indictments of Trump associates of various rank and caliber.
Whatever is reported, whatever happens, will be spun or shrugged off as tainted, the fruit of the poisonous tree of the liberal media. The Trump true believers have essentially been inoculated from the harmful impact of facts and evidence that run counter to their increasingly bizarre reality — that Trump is a real patriot, that he is a genuine man of God, that he is Moses come again to lead them, this time all the way to Beulah Land.
Say what you will about Trump, but when has any politician in history ever used technology more cunningly or effectively. The day’s events unfold — every news cycle stuffed with new horrors and more bad news — and then in the wee hours of the morning, Trump unleashes a barrage of tweets, which provide his followers with assurance and catharsis, but not talking points they can really use, since Trump is manifestly incapable of cogent expression.
For this, they rely on Fox News, and Fox News has always delivered, offering a Whitman’s Sampler of non-sequiturs, logical fallacies, half-truths, and deft misdirection. We can be sure that within eight to 12 hours, our news feeds and conversations will be cluttered with these talking points, factory fresh. Thus, the alternate reality is preserved. Collusion? Corruption? Hush money? More indictments? No way. It’s nothing really. Smoke and mirrors. Snakes in the woodpile. Trump is a brave warrior, the victim of a liberal conspiracy. Like all authentic heroes, he must endure the slings and arrows of those who resent his basic goodness and rugged individualism.
Trump tweets, Fox spins the news into gold like Rumpelstiltskin, and then Trump uses Fox’s talking points for the next news cycle. And so it goes, and has gone, for nearly three years now.
But there is a problem, and it has always been there, like a ticking time-bomb hidden in a dark corner of this false reality. The problem is that of all of Trump’s mistresses, technology turns out to be the most fickle. No one, and I mean no one, has a longer memory. For example, when Trump claimed that he had no knowledge of any hush money being paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, he said it not just for that day’s particular news cycle, but for all eternity. Therefore, he cannot logically come back in less than a year and claim with any integrity that it was a “private payment.” He cannot claim that there was no interference from Russia in the election, and then later say there was.
Trump is now caught in a web of lies of his own making, preserved forever by technology. Can you beat that irony?
Then again, maybe you can beat that irony. What happens when Fox News realizes once and for all that it has backed the wrong horse? It is one thing to bend the facts in order to distort reality. It is another thing altogether to blow it all to hell, to insist that what is plainly and empirically true is somehow false, to convince people that what they are seeing and hearing with their own eyes and ears is not really what they are seeing and hearing.
Or put another way, would you want your future tethered to Donald J. Trump’s? Mueller is closing in. He has the proof. He has the evidence. He has been gathering it for months, brick by brick, one indictment at a time. Here is a prediction. We are about to see an unveiling the likes of which we have never seen in American history. In terms of scale, it will make Watergate look like robbing some kid’s lemonade stand. Little by little, day-by-day, Fox News is gradually peeling off from the Trump Express because it has to.
The fascinating question remaining is this: what do the Trump true believers do when that happens? Will they abandon Fox News, the source of their worldview for years and years, or will they abandon Trump, the brash, system-smashing anti-hero they have dreamed of for so long? It may not be much longer before Robert Mueller forces the moment to its crisis.