Did we just see Erick Erickson’s Red State draw a red line in the sand in front of Rush Limbaugh? And if so, is it another aspect of the booming dynamic known as “the Trump effect?”
That very case can be made – as Erickson used Red State’s daily email blast lead story from Dan McLaughlin on Wednesday to fire shots across the bow of all talk radio hosts and other pundits who are in any way supporting Donald Trump. And while Erickson does not have the by-line on this indictment, it is right in line with his recent dis-invitation of Trump to speak at the recent Red State gathering. Moreover, while Erickson might not agree with every single word on the Red State site, there is no way a main feature leads the daily blast without his blessing.
The lead column was provocatively titled “Laura Ingraham Gets Punked by Donald Trump,” but before the piece ever gets around to actually mentioning Ingraham, the gauntlet is thrown down on all talkers with the bombastic warning that “all those in a position of leadership…. cable and talk radio hosts, pundits, columnists, bloggers – (who are) actively encouraging the Trump phenomenon, you are neither a conservative nor a Republican anymore and should not expect anyone to take you seriously again.”
There’s nothing else to add to that, other than to notice that a direct endorsement of Trump was not a requirement here – no – merely the encouragement “of the Trump phenomenon” is in and of itself damning.
And just in case anyone still missed the main point of the article, it closed with the harsh notice that “Donald Trump’s feckless campaign is a millstone…. take it off your necks, or be drowned by it.” The close was dramatically stark on purpose.
Translation: Those talk leaders who now speak well of Trump’s campaign are heading for a major embarrassment down the line….and ole Erick will be there to remind them. It is worth noting here that Glenn Beck has been very critical of Trump as well, but there’s been no direct ultimatum from Beck’s media outlets directed towards other talkers.
And while in fairness the Red State article does finally gets around to needling Ingraham over her surprise at Trump’s clumsy remarks about government funding of Planned Parenthood – as reported by Breitbart’s John Nolte – this commentary clearly goes way beyond Ingraham.
Naturally it’s incontrovertible to Erickson and everybody else – that no host or pundit, columnist or blogger for that matter – is as big and influential as Limbaugh, and no host has given Trump as much positive air time as Rush has either.
This piece is an indictment of talk radio, and that normally means Limbaugh specifically or chiefly. Rush even alluded to this indirectly during his Thursday opening monologue, discussing how some in the media are saying that Rush could have taken out Trump – but of course has done just the opposite. It’s quite clear that Erickson agrees with this sentiment.
To be clear- while not endorsing Trump specifically – Rush has clearly recognized and encouraged the Trump phenomenon. For weeks, Trump commentary has dominated Rush’ air time, and almost all of the mentions have been overwhelmingly positive. Typically, Rush stated on his July 27th show that Trump is tapping into the resentment of The Ruling Class as described by Angelo Codvilla in his best selling 2010 book by the same name. For weeks – on literally every show – Rush has been explaining the Trump surge with some iteration of the shared anger at Washington, at the GOP establishment and at the elites – an anger that is dry kindling to which Trump is the match. There has been little or no circumspection on Rush’ show. It’s all positive, and there’s relatively little mention of any other candidate. The key concept is that Trump is a fighter.
Meanwhile, Red State coincidentally has an article this week championing “The Three Members of the Fighter Caucus” – which is led by Ted Cruz and includes Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal. Conspicuously absent is Rush’s champion fighter, Trump.
Limbaugh was not Erickson’s only target to be sure, but he was clearly numero uno. A little Spanish lingo, as Limbaugh would say.
All of this of course comes on the heels of Erickson’s un-invitation to Trump – an unjustifiable move given that Trump is leading in all the polls – and one that clarified the disconnect between Erickson, Rush, and much of talk radio on the Trump issue.
For Erickson to make such a transparent and controversial move indicates he is not afraid to sink or swim on his Trump assessment. He and Red State have spoken – and they’ve drawn the line in the sand.
And on the other side of that line is the big kahuna of talk radio. This awkward divide is indeed part and parcel of ‘the Trump effect.” All of which begs many questions, among them is will Erickson ever sit behind the ‘golden EIB microphone’ again?
Edmund Wright is a contributor to Breitbart, American Thinker, Newsmax TV, Talk Radio Network and author of the Amazon Best Seller Election Book WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again.