Wednesday on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman offered his take on veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s report that President Donald Trump’s admission he did not want to create panic from fear of COVID-19 in public statements was not going to diminish him in the eyes of his supporters.
Friedman told host Chris Cuomo that Trump’s support is a product of the anti-elite sentiment among a group of voters.
“Chris, the argument I made in my column in The New York Times, which I really wrote with my friend, Michael Sandel, who’s written a book called ‘The Tyranny of Merit,’ which is about this question of political humiliation, really makes the point that Trump voters, from the beginning, I think, have actually not been paying that much attention to Trump,” he said. “They actually hate the people who hate Trump more than they care about Trump. And they hate those people, liberals, progressives, elites because they think they look down at them.”
“And these are White working-class Americans for the most part, people without college degrees, at a time when we’ve kind of valorized college degrees, and made them really the badge for a dignified work and social esteem, and basically said to people who don’t have college degrees, that your work, whether it’s with your hands or whatever else, doesn’t quite measure up,” Friedman continued. “And so, that has really produced a certain resentment among part of the population. And, as a result, they don’t follow Trump for his policies. They follow him for his attitudes. And his biggest attitude that they follow him for is the way he sticks it to liberals, elites, and progressives, the very people they think look down at them.”
After taking a jab at Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson, Cuomo asked Friedman why Trump’s supporters continue to stick with him despite these stories that could call the President’s judgment into question.
“I was talking to a friend tonight, Chris,” Friedman replied. “And we decided that the uber book on the Trump years, at least the uber book by journalists, should be called ‘Surely! Surely! This is the story that will bring him down.’ I’m afraid there is no story that will bring him down. Trump has Teflon, OK? He has the Teflon of these people, again, who are looking at him, and they’re actually looking through him, and seeing him as a club, a stick they poke in the eye of the people they don’t like. He has another kind of Teflon. There have been so many stories about his misbehavior. Trump’s Teflon is mud. When you’re covered in mud, and I throw more mud at you, nothing really sticks anymore.
“And so, I would suggest that because we — you’ve alluded to this,” he continued. “He’s on Fox right now. That’s a whole group of people not watching your show, not reading about this in The Washington Post and The New York Times. We live in alternative information ecosystems. So, first of all, what outrages you is not even going to get to those people, because in the Fox ecosystem, or the Breitbart ecosystem, it’s not going to be presented that way. And secondly, even if it did, they’ve made up their minds because humiliation is the single most powerful human emotion. And when you trigger that in people, it trumps everything.”
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