A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.
After the American Health Care Act’s collapse on Friday, conservative media outlets rushed to process the news and, in typical form, assure their audiences that things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Most publications and commentators were clear on one thing: None of this was Trump’s fault. To the contrary, it might well be a mark of his genius.
Maintaining an idea that he had pushed in the past, Sean Hannity continued to assert that Trump had done “everything in his power to get this bill across the finish line.” He promised, however that “snowflake Democrats … would not be smiling for long” and reiterated a claim supported by the president, warning that premiums would continue to skyrocket:
The exemplar of the Trump-as-master-strategist line came, however, not from Hannity, but from a Breitbart essay arguing that Trump had acted according to principles he laid out in The Art of the Deal. Facing “irreconcilable factions,” it proposed, the president knew that he had to “bring them together — to ‘deliver the goods,’ a key rule in The Art of the Deal. But first he must show them ‘the downside’ — and convince them they will fail on their own.” The article proceeded to lay out Trump’s next moves before ending with a quotation from The Matrix: Reloaded.
A Gateway Pundit post suggested that the debacle had been deliberate, a reminder that Trump is a true artist of the deal:
Did Trump give Paul Ryan just enough rope to hang himself? It is no secret that Paul Ryan has contempt for President Trump and is working to sabotage him. This may [be] Trump’s plan to have Paul Ryan ousted and replaced.
Many outlets also reported uncritically on the president’s suggestion that Democrats were at fault. Fox News, for example, headlined one article “Trump Blames Democrats for GOP Health Care Bill Failure, Says ObamaCare Is ‘Imploding’ ” and Breitbart ran a post titled “Donald Trump Blames Democrats for Health Care Failure, Promises Better Plan in the Future.”
Though that Breitbart article noted that Trump had “thanked his staff, Republican leadership, and even Speaker Paul Ryan,” the site challenged Ryan in other articles. In a lengthy, reported “exclusive,” Breitbart suggested that Ryan might be on the way out as speaker and claimed that White House sources indicated Trump was upset with Ryan: “House Republicans are also questioning whether Ryan can remain as Speaker after this abysmal failure.” LifeZette also featured Ryan on its list of the effort’s most prominent losers, writing, “In the biggest test of his leadership, Friday’s outcome is a big, fat failure.”
Gateway Pundit, meanwhile, took the opportunity to identify an unusual comparative metric:
Compared to President Trump, Paul Ryan’s House of Representatives looks stagnant! The President has signed 38 game changing executive actions to six rather insignificant pieces of legislation signed into law since the President’s inauguration.
Others pointed the finger at the House Freedom Caucus, which was, the Daily Caller claimed, “taking heat for thwarting Republicans’ Obamacare replacement bill.” In a Fox News editorial titled, “Freedom Caucus Drives Dagger Into Heart of Young Trump Presidency,” commentator Elizabeth Peek embraced this angle, writing that “the damage is not limited to healthcare reform … [Trump’s] credibility and credentials now lie in tatters. All that optimism that has stoked the stock market and boosted investment plans – all that may fade.”
A few dissenting voices on the right did acknowledge that Trump may have played a role in the bill’s failure. The editors of National Review, for example, attributed it not just to “Speaker Ryan’s high-handedness,” but also to “President Trump’s erratic leadership.” The publication went on to suggest that Republicans should continue working on the issue, though doing so would require “more patient cajoling and less last-minute bullying.” A second National Review article argued that Trump’s lack of interest in the bill’s details was his greatest fault:
A strong leader can help sort out conflicting priorities, but there’s little sign that President Trump had any interest in that role. Throughout the last days of arm-twisting, there were ominous reports that he was quite passionately attempting to persuade House Republicans to pass the bill, without really understanding what was in the legislation that made them so reluctant to vote for it.
Amid the uncertainty, some conservative publications still found time for some schadenfreude of their own. The Daily Caller, in particular, mocked House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi who was “briefly stalled by an uncooperative microphone” when she “and several other House Democrats held a press conference on Friday afternoon to gloat over Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to cancel the vote.”
On Facebook, a post from Trump’s official account promised that Obamacare would “explode” but everything would be fine: