Why Donald Trump Is Winning When He’s Wrong

Donald Trump leads the Republican polls despite being proved wrong about “thousands” of Muslims in Jersey City celebrating the 9/11 attacks. An interview Tuesday morning by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani shows why.

Camerota quizzed Giuliani, hoping he would say that Trump is “lying.” She was frustrated when Giuliani merely said that Trump had been “exaggerating,” and pointing out hitherto ignored examples of handfuls of Muslims celebrating in New York.

“And those weren’t just rumors, those weren’t just reports, you went out and checked them out?” Camerota said–as if the former mayor whose credibility she had hoped to exploit to bash Trump were suddenly in doubt. (Giuliani confirmed the reports.)

What is telling is that Camerota, like much of the rest of the media, is as dogged in her determination to see Trump condemned as he is determined to stick to his version of events. And she failed, because there is a tiny kernel of truth to what Trump claimed.

That kernel is the fact of Islamic extremism, which would not be controversial if not for the persistent efforts of President Barack Obama and his supporters in the media to deny that it exists, and that it enjoys far broader support than they wish to acknowledge.

Trump is winning because in goading the media into chasing his misstatements and mistakes, he is forcing them to cover things that conservative voters (and others) are worried about, but which many liberal journalists would rather avoid or explain away.

Most of Trump’s supporters know that he is wrong sometimes, perhaps even misleading–and they do not care.

Not because they are captivated by his personality, but because they are tired of caring about standards that are just for one party and not the other.

NBC’s Chuck Todd yelled at Trump Sunday: “Your words matter. Truthfulness matters. Fact-based stuff matters.”

Really? Since when? Not since 2008, at any rate.

Trump is winning because voters understand that the media are so determined to see him lose.

Trump also keeps the fight going–daring CNN to pay $5 million to charity for him to appear at the next Republican debate, for example–because it generates free attention that crowds out other candidates, and because giving in–even once–would be fatal.

It is worth asking if someone who plays Trump’s game has the character to govern a diverse and increasingly fractious nation.

But if and when Republican voters start asking themselves that question, it will not be because the media want them to do so.

 


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