The mainstream media continues to botch how and why President Trump manages to succeed in spite of their negative coverage. One such aspect of these repeated failures is how badly they underestimate his support among the “Young Right.” The latest example of this is brought to you by the ultimate purveyor of “fake news,” the Washington Post.
In a rather self-righteous article, Post writer Eliza Gray attempts to unravel just how well-received President Trump really is among the Young Right. She interviewed “52 young conservative leaders nationwide, most in their early 20s,” in search of an answer. Each of the 52 interviewees is quoted within the article with a brief statement.
Ignoring the fact that a sample size of only 52 can in no way be representative of the movement as a whole, Gray narrows it down further so that only 13 individuals are featured in-depth. And it is clear that Gray intends to put the spotlight on those who hold a negative overall opinion of Trump than on those who hold a positive view.
So we’re treated to one Yale graduate, a self-described moderate, who says “Trump brought out a dark element of the Republican Party.” Another “conservative kid from a farming town” says Trump has “done really, really horrible things.” And the vice chairman of the College Republicans at a North Carolina school thinks it “would be fantastic” if someone else was nominated in 2020. Of the 13 young Republicans the Post story highlighted, seven had an overall negative opinion of Trump, four were mixed or neutral, and only two were outright positive.
There are a number of broad, sweeping generalizations made about the Young Right based on the words of only one interviewee. Gray claims that United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is “the most admired person in the administration” among those interviewed “because she stands up to Trump,” even though only one person in the entire article explicitly mentioned or praised Haley. In another instance, Gray uses one person to push the narrative that the Young Right is increasingly libertarian, though evidence mounts that the “libertarian moment” has passed as scholars continue to point out that libertarianism is historically and ideologically at odds with conservatism.
The article also perpetuates the idea that the leading star of the Young Right is Daily Wire host Ben Shapiro. In yet the latest instance of the mainstream media trying to crown him as the leader of their opposition, the author declares that Shapiro holds the most sway over this generation. Her reasoning? The fact that his name was mentioned by about one-third of the 52 people she interviewed. This is some rigorous methodology.
While also ignoring the two-thirds who did not mention Shapiro, the author conveniently fails to mention that a number of Shapiro’s views clash with the core beliefs of the Trump base. For example, Shapiro says that Trump’s economic nationalism is of the same vein as economic central planning that was seen in the Soviet Union; he also criticized Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un the day the summit took place.
Not only do Shapiro’s ideological differences with Trump’s brand of conservatism present a clear detachment from the broader Young Right, but the article chooses to focus only on him without any acknowledgement of the similar influence held by many other commentators who speak much more directly to the pro-Trump crowd. Figures such as Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern, Gavin McInnes, Paul Joseph Watson, Candace Owens, Jordan Peterson, Tucker Carlson, and others are completely ignored; only one other major figure, Milo Yiannopoulos, is mentioned in passing and quickly disregarded as irrelevant.
Pathos over Logos
The article also stokes the fires of internal division among the Young Right in a much more obvious manner, making reference to past conflicts between rival conservative groups that operate primarily on college campuses. She paints a picture of such groups as the College Republicans, Turning Point USA, and Young Americans for Liberty all fighting over membership numbers on various campuses, while also highlighting old allegations that attempt to paint Turning Point in particular (described as a more pro-Trump group) in a negative light.
Of course, Gray’s political leanings should make it clear why she would be driven to depict such a sensationalist anti-Trump picture among the rising generation of the American Right, and why she is just as eager to portray this new generation as a divided one rather than united. Her past articles for other outlets have focused on such topics as the mythical “wage gap,” declared that prominent anti-Trump media personality Joe Scarborough’s show contains “pathetic gender dynamics” that make it “sexist,” and even claimed that transgender Americans are “America’s next great civil rights struggle.” The latter article even earned Gray a nomination for a GLAAD Media Award.
As such, it makes sense as to why Gray’s primary argument is that any division among the Young Right over Trump stems from non-substantive emotional aspects of his rhetoric or his Tweeting, rather than the facts surrounding his actual policy accomplishments. Almost all of the quotes that are negative towards Trump are in response to these kind of media-hyped non-issues, while the pro-Trump quotes are almost entirely in response to actual accomplishments such as the tax cuts, pro-life policies, and his economic nationalism. Such policies, especially his protectionism, have proven to be very popular among young voters in particular, who have grown tired of a calcified, ineffective, and flat-footed movement conservatism.
This, of course, raises the question of whether the overall consensus would have been more positive if those who were questioned were asked about Trump’s accomplishments in office rather than his tweets. Then again, a lot could have contributed to this piece being a more thorough and accurate profile than it actually was. It might, for example, have actually featured each and every one of the 52 individuals who were interviewed. That would have been a good start, rather than singling out only a baker’s dozen which appears hand-picked to advance a predetermined narrative rather than to actually shed light on a question about which the author has genuine curiosity.
What was the point of interviewing so many people if Eliza Gray already knew which people she wanted to profile? The answer should be obvious: Gray knew what kind of a scene she wanted to create in order to fit her narrative. In the process, she—like the rest of the mainstream media—continues fundamentally to misunderstand Trump’s appeal to the youth, and thus could very well be in for another big surprise in 2020.
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