Maybe Donald Trump truly believes he should be leading by 20 points in the polls. Or maybe his Twitter tirade about the media is merely “working the refs.” (More)

“If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly….”

Donald Trump says he’s actually winning the general election campaign, or that he should be:

That was part of a long Twitter rant, at first about a New York Times article that described his campaign in chaos and expanding into a tantrum about the media and his notion of “freedom of the press”:

Trump seems to think “freedom of the press” means “freedom of the press to publish exactly and only what I want.” Trump offered no evidence to dispute the Times story. He just called it – and other reports of the asinine things he says and does – “false messages.” In other words, messages that don’t tow the Trump line.

“Since media is all he’s doing, the media gets the blame”

Part of this may be that Trump hasn’t and probably won’t start a real general election campaign, as the Washington Post’s Philip Bump explains:

What has changed is the polls we’re looking at, from primary voters to general. Trump got a core group of strong Republican supporters early in the primaries and held them. They responded well to his style and his message. He only cobbled together a majority of the party’s electorate at the end of the race; he ended up with less than a majority of the Republican vote.

That’s not the measuring stick anymore. That core of support is enough to keep him at about 40 percent in general election polls, but the media coverage that earned him his primary wins hasn’t done much to expand his base of support past that.

So Trump is doing the same thing but not winning. And since media is all he’s doing, the media gets the blame.

Trump said last week he doesn’t think he needs to bother with GOTV. He’s running almost no ads, and has almost no field offices. He seems to think all he needs to hold rallies and then whine and rant because the rest of the world doesn’t grovel and cheer like way his crowds do. If the media just covered Trump’s adoring crowds, as he sees it, everyone else would know how beloved Trump is and Trump would be Trumping Trumpingly.

“Another substantive story that has been largely buried….”

Some of this is just standard conservative whining that the media don’t obsess enough over wingnut conspiracy theories:

Ideological bias matters, but while it is constantly lamented, a bigger problem this cycle is probably a bias against substantive campaign coverage. This benefits Hillary Clinton, inasmuch as her sins are more substantive than Trump’s (which are mostly rhetorical).

Let’s take the fact that she lied about classified information on her private server. To be fair, this scandal got a fair amount of attention, but not the kind of breathless feeding frenzy coverage that Trump’s comments have garnered[.]
[…]
Another substantive story that has been largely buried by Trump-ian coverage is the apparent “ransom payment” to Iran for hostages. Anyone who remembers the Iran-Contra affair can tell you that this is the sort of thing that could make investigative reporters start dreaming of a Pulitzer. But (so far) it has mostly been greeted with a yawn. Call it ideological bias or just a bias toward covering the more fun Donald Trump. But the lack of coverage is striking.

That’s The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis, and it’s the usual right wing analytical error. Because Lewis believes those things, they should be treated as “substantive” stories. Thus, if the media don’t obsess over them as much as Lewis does, it must be “liberal media bias.”

But the media aren’t as obsessed with those stories as Lewis is because neither story is true. The FBI found no evidence that Clinton lied about classified emails and there was no “ransom payment” to Iran. Trump and other conservatives spun a scheduled settlement of frozen assets into “ransom” because … well … because Obama.

Like a basketball coach whining about fouls in the hope the refs will see things his way, Lewis and other purveyors of “liberal media bias” hope that if they yell loudly enough, for long enough, the media will treat wingnut fantasies as facts.

“Everyone either is or is potentially a conservative Republican”

But the other part is that many conservatives believe their own press releases, as No More Mister Nice Blog’s Steve M. explains:

And the conservative media’s message is that everyone either is or is potentially a conservative Republican. The only reason anyone isn’t a conservative Republican is brainwashing (by the “liberal media,” by academia, by the “Democrat Party”). This is true, according to the right, across all races. Blacks would be conservative Republicans if they weren’t trapped on the “liberal plantation”; all blacks who “think for themselves” instantly migrate to the right. Same thing for Hispanics: They’re “culturally conservative” and have “traditional values.” So of course Trump has boasted that he’ll win the black and Hispanic vote.

The overriding message of the conservative movement for years is that the Democrat currently in the White House was elected by people who aren’t really Americans – they may be citizens and they may vote legally (though that’s doubtful!), but it’s not their country. We have to take our country back from them. So of course Trump thinks that he should be winning the election – isn’t he winning with “real Americans”? [Original emphasis]

That may seem bizarre, but remember that three-quarters of white Americans have no non-white friends. It’s like the apocryphal Pauline Kael quote: “I am mystified. I know only one person who voted for Nixon.”

That’s precisely the world Trump inhabits: surrounded by sycophants. He believes the people who show up at his rallies are a representative cross-section of voters, and those in his inner circle either don’t know any better, or know they dare not tell him otherwise.

That’s a lousy way to run a campaign … and it would be an even worse way to run a presidential administration.

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Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

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Good day and good nuts