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Trump’s career-defining sales pitch: They’re targeting you, not me

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A cartoon shared by Donald Trump on his home social media network over the weekend captures the idea, however crudely. It depicts a smiling, resigned Trump holding a large shield against which a number of arrows land. The arrows, feathered in blue, are labeled “DOJ”, “FBI”, “IRS”, “MS MEDIA” and, in an arrow with red feathers, “RINOS”. In his left hand, Trump holds a flag with “We the People” written on it.

But then, behind him, there is a sign: “You are here”, an arrow pointing to the area behind the former president. You are there, behind him, protected by him. Arrows hit his shield – but they’re aimed you.

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For a long time, Trump has tried to present himself not as the leader of the political right, but as his sword and armor. His rhetoric was always heavy with “we” language; the fight in which he was engaged was a collective fight. As incongruous as it may have seemed for a Fifth Avenue tycoon on a private jet to defend Wisconsin factory workers, his background likely helped his cause. In the 2016 election, he claimed to understand how the corrupt system worked as a former participant – so he had the tools to dismantle it. He was an elite fed up with elites, a defector ready to bring down the regime from within.

Speaking to his supporters, their sense that Trump was a go-between on their behalf was very real. Touch. Trump marketed this sense that he was fighting on behalf of this particular subset of Americans and it was persuasive, especially when he won in 2016. Here is a champion fighting hated elites and their heroes like Hillary Clinton – and winning! Trump came to the presidency with a Fox News-level understanding of how government works. When he then targeted those elements, he landed with a bang among fellow Fox News viewers.

But, of course, the golden facade was just that. There were and are real questions about the legality of Trump’s actions, his business and his approach to the presidency. Several members of his campaign team had ties to Russia even as that country tried to help him win, a reality that sparked a lengthy investigation. Trump’s sales pitch evolved with ease: the FBI targeted him because he fought for real Americans against the “deep state” elites. From a political point of view, it was genius. If you portray the establishment as both almighty and riddled with prejudice, even the most blatantly justified investigation becomes an unacceptable effort to unfairly attack Trump. And, by extension, normal Americans.

One person who recognizes the usefulness of Trump’s framing is Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. The show host was unfortunate enough to be on vacation last week and so missed the first round in anger during the FBI’s raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

He made up for lost time.

“If you’ve expressed any support for him or an interest in maintaining, I don’t know, the rights to free speech and due process, you’re also a criminal,” Carlson said Monday night. “Actually, you are the threat. You are the threat. And just mentioning that you don’t agree with what’s going on is an attack on our government.

This thing about “free speech and due process” is a recap of the 20 minutes leading up to Carlson’s distillation of the point. If you’ve never watched Carlson’s monologues, it’s hard to convey the rapid unfolding of misinformation they entail, the college debate team’s efforts to portray their enemies as remorselessly devious and their allies as unfairly attacked.

Monday night, for example, Carlson:

  1. Accused TV host of murder
  2. Described the riot at the United States Capitol as a “show of electoral justice”
  3. Repeated misrepresentations about IRS adding 87,000 armed officers
  4. Insisted that Trump allies were targeted by feds just because they were Trump allies

He’s been at it for a while, giving the likes of Trump’s former lawyer John Eastman sympathetic airtime after authorities seized his phone as part of an investigation into – as you know. remember – Eastman’s role in efforts to prevent the democratic transition of power. But he does it either with indifferent carelessness or with deliberate dishonesty.

A subpoena for Trump attorney Eric Herschmann, Carlson said, is to “sue him … because he gave legal advice to his client, Donald Trump.” Here, Fox News’ refusal to cover the Jan. 6 congressional hearings may impose a cost; any viewer of those hearings would know that Herschmann cannot be credibly considered a staunch Trump ally. Then there was Carlson’s statement that the Justice Department is ‘now’ going after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani – after it was announced that Giuliani is the target of a criminal investigation in Georgia , not at the federal level. Everyone who has contact with law enforcement in any way is simply being dragged into this theoretical effort to dismantle Trumpworld.

But not because of Trump. ‘Cause they’re here to get you.

Carlson has been beating that drum since President Biden took office. That’s why he downplays the events of January 6: the arrest of hundreds of Trump supporters for breaking into the Capitol becomes just the arrest of hundreds of Trump supporters if you discount the actual criminal conduct. He mocks law enforcement’s repeated warnings about domestic violence by white supremacists, suggesting – partly for self-serving reasons – that Everybody on the right is labeled a white supremacist.

Part of that is simply that Carlson hopes to build his audience from Trump’s base. But some of it goes beyond that, to fuel a sense of anger and fear.

Consider his comments as he concluded his monologue.

“We are at this point on the brink of something unprecedented and horrible,” Carlson warned. “You could feel it. Even Donald Trump is feeling it, perhaps for the first time in his life. Donald Trump seems sincerely interested in bringing down the temperature not just for himself, but for the country. »

This was a reference to an interview Trump gave in which he claimed to have offered help to the Department of Justice.

“He said that. He never said anything like that,” Carlson continued. “Maybe he doesn’t mean it, but when did he ever say that? let’s all calm downhe said the other day. It’s not good. Yeah, he’s right. It’s not good. And not just for him. For all of us. It could get really bad, really fast.

But, he added, “the Biden people don’t care” because “they’re facing voter repudiation and they’re desperate and they’ll do anything.” But at what cost ? Pray for them to step down before it’s too late.

They are there to get you, America. So vote Trump. So look at Fox.

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