I’ve always found Donald Trump’s most passionate supporters more interesting than Donald Trump himself.
Trump is easy to understand. He’s a man who craves adulation. Adulation, applause, ratings — they are his oxygen.
He hasn’t been president for a month yet and already he was out in Florida holding a campaign-style rally.
His hard-core base loves him because he sticks it to all sorts of elite types, mainly the liberal media elite.
And the news media deserve a lot of the criticism they get. I wrote a book called “Bias,” outlining how and why liberal journalists slant the news to fit their own worldview and their own values. I wrote another book called “A Slobbering Love Affair” about how a lot of liberal journalists fell madly in love with Barack Obama and embarrassed themselves in the process.
So I understand why so many people don’t trust what passes for the mainstream media. But I don’t need to hear Donald Trump lecture us about “fake news.” Half of what comes out of Trump’s mouth is fake information. He gets so many things wrong that you have to wonder what’s going on. Fake news to Donald Trump is any news he doesn’t like.
Before I get too far along, let me define what I mean by “his most passionate supporters.” I’m not talking about those Americans who held their nose and voted for him — the ones who couldn’t stand the idea of Hillary Clinton being president. I’m referring to those who adore him — the ones who aren’t put off in the least by his crude behavior. The ones who don’t care that he’s thin-skinned, vindictive and brags too much. The ones who don’t care that he gets so many things wrong and that he’s either sloppy with facts, lying or is delusional. They just plain love the guy because he’s a symbol: a great big middle finger aimed at everyone he and his most loyal fans don’t like.
Which brings me to a recent appearance on television where I was asked for my reaction to his news conference, which was, if nothing else, entertaining.
I said no matter what others thought of his performance, his most avid fans loved it because anyone who takes shots at the media is their kind of guy.
But I said something else that got President Trump’s true-blue supporters riled up. I said Trump “could have pulled out a gun and shot a few reporters (at his news conference) and his base would have cheered him on.” Then I added, “And I mean that literally.”
Social media lit up. His fans were not happy.
Chloe said, “That was an insane thing to say. Has Bernie lost it?”
Rick knew the answer to that one: “Bernie you have lost your marbles.”
Someone called Sensable let me off easy: “That’s a mean statement, Mr. Goldberg.”
John said I was a “fascist.”
Ronald spoke for many others when he tweeted: “Mr. Goldberg your full of crap, wiseup, it’s now very clear your (sic) not a Trump supporter.”
Here’s what makes their annoyance and anger so interesting. It was Donald Trump himself who, on Jan. 23, 2016, said this at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
So that didn’t bother the Trump followers, but what I said did? I didn’t say anything more provocative than what he said over a year ago. And I’m only a commentator. He was running for president of the United States of America!
And that’s why these people are so — I’ll be nice — fascinating. Donald Trump could say the sun rises in the west and his fans wouldn’t care. But if a journalist points out that he’s wrong, it’s the journalist who winds up in the crosshairs and is accused of putting out “fake news.”
In fact, after watching me on television, one Trump fan on Twitter, wrote: “Fake news idiot Bernard Goldberg trash talking Trump.” The message was re-tweeted — a lot.
On that TV show I also said that I couldn’t think of anything that Donald Trump could do that would make his most loyal supporters abandon him. I also mean this literally.
In the past, I have said that Donald Trump has a great knack, an uncanny ability, to make his most loyal fans look foolish. I think that now more than ever.
He can make them abandon their conservative principles. He can make them forget how much conservatives supposedly care about civility and decency. He can say things that aren’t true. He can demean a military man who spent more than five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. He can make fun of a disabled reporter. He can insult the looks of a woman who ran against him. He can talk about grabbing women between their legs and getting away with it — because he’s a star. None of it matters to his most loyal supporters.
As a Trump fan named Diane put it on Twitter regarding my comments about the president’s performance at the news conference: “Yes, we loved it. Our President has been under siege by the idiot media; he is fighting back, so are we.”
Forgive me for repeating myself: There is nothing he can do that will make his disciples abandon their messiah.
And for those naive enough to believe that Donald Trump would change his behavior when he became president: Forget it. And neither will his most loyal followers.
I have a bad feeling that this may not end well.