<em>National Review</em>'s Rich Lowry: On the right, "everyone considers the media, in effect, a domestic enemy"
HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): You write in Politico that the media are Trump’s evil empire, as in the Soviet Union days. And also in the wake of Charlottesville, his lifeline. How so?
RICH LOWRY: Yeah. Well, one, I just think the media has replaced the Soviet Union in effect as the common unifying enemy of every faction on the right. It doesn’t matter whether you are a religious conservative or a libertarian, whether you are pro- or anti-Trump, everyone considers the media, in effect, a domestic enemy.
KURTZ: Does that include National Review, which has not exactly been complimentary toward Trump?
LOWRY: Well, for some people. We don’t include ourselves as part of that media.
LOWRY: But Trump has sort of a great E.Q. He realizes what excites people, what energizes people, and he got on to this. And Republican politicians have always criticized the media, going back at least to 1969, Spiro Agnew gave this excoriating speech about TV commentators. But Trump has taken it to a whole different level. And it’s part of what bonds the Republican base to him.
KURTZ: Well in this same piece you say that Trump is outrageous, again, you’re not a big fan of the president. But that makes the media feel justified in the unrelentingly harsh coverage. Should they feel justified?
LOWRY: Well, look, I think there are a lot of stories that need to be told about this administration. I don’t think his administration often is very truthful and there is a lot of incompetence and things that could be exposed. And that’s fine, that’s what the media should do. But it’s all through this haze of unrelenting hostility and hysteria. Every other day, it’s not just that the Trump administration did something wrong, or that Trump said something controversial. It’s, “the end of the Trump era is upon us.” And so, I think the media is actually worse than it’s ever been, and that helps Trump because it’s his main foil. And clearly the more biased and hysterical it is, the easier it is for him to beat up on it.
KURTZ: You made an observations about CNN and the tone of its coverage toward the president, which was?
LOWRY: Yeah, well CNN, they are clearly loving this, right? The — Trump hate-watches CNN, and CNN hate-covers Donald Trump.
KURTZ: And gooses its ratings.
LOWRY: Yeah, “in four hours and 32 minutes, tune in to hear Donald Trump attack us.” And then for the next five hours we’re going to say how outraged and dismayed we are that Donald Trump attacked us. And we’re going to reap the benefits of higher ratings.
KURTZ: I guess that’s called synergy.
LOWRY: Trump is just — he’s the most intense and comprehensive media critic that our politics has ever seen. And if he feels as though he’s embattled or feels as though he is being attacked unfairly by the press, which he feels most of the time, he is going to hit back because he always said twice as hard. So he’s actually ramped up his rhetoric from where it was.
KURTZ: Well just in half a minute or so, aren’t some of the media playing into his hands with calling him unhinged and mentally ill, and the over-the-top criticism we just spoke about?
LOWRY: Yeah, absolutely. So the reaction, again, not to pick on one particular network, but the reaction on CNN to his rally where he said such things was to start openly speculating about the president’s mental and emotional stability. So this is how the cycle works. Trump amped it up a little bit and the media amped it up a little bit. And my advice to both sides would be let the other side punch itself out, let the other side discredit itself with its hysterical attacks. But neither side seems interested in taking that advice.