There’s a simplistic line of thinking that says Donald Trump’s apologists will simply keep spouting the same old nonsense no matter how thoroughly exposed his crimes and antics become, and no matter how close he might get marched to the door. The reality is more nuanced – and now we’re seeing how they’re going to play it.
Trump’s apologists can’t simply keep repeating the same old lies in his defense, because too many people within their audience are now at least vaguely aware that those lies aren’t true. Nor can Trump’s apologists simply throw him overboard, for fear of alienating their audience entirely. So instead they’re trying to find a way to acknowledge that he’s in the wrong, that he sucks, that he’s a piece of crap, while still defending him on some level.
Take Tucker Carlson, for example. He’s one of Trump’s most loyal apologists. But he’s also a guy who’s survived in cable news for decades, by finding a bottom-feeding audience and then doing whatever it takes to keep them around. Carlson is more loyal to himself than he is to Trump. It’s why Carlson admitted this week that Trump is a “full-blown BS artist” who “lies a lot” – and that Trump specifically lied about his inauguration crowd size.
Don’t get too excited; Tucker Carlson didn’t throw Donald Trump all the way under the bus. That’s not how it works. Instead, after he admitted that Trump is a compulsive liar, he accused the Resistance of using Trump’s constant lies as a mere excuse for attacking him. That doesn’t make sense, but that’s the whole point. Trump apologists like Carlson are left trying to find a way to admit that Trump is garbage while still painting the anti-Trump side as being even worse garbage. As Trump circles the drain, it’s all these types have left.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report