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Report From Trump Country: How ‘The News’ Helps Trump in the South

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This story is about what I have observed regarding Southern Trump voters. I am a white male that was born and raised in the South. This story tells what I have noticed about the ‘Southern Trump supporters’ as well as why these people are Trump supporters. These are general observations. There are many Southern whites that despise Trump. There just are not enough of us.

Analysis of White Trump Supporters in the South

There is not a single type of Trump voter. From my experience, every white racist is a Trump voter. These people do not do anything as overt as burning crosses. These people think that ‘the blacks’ are lazy and are living off the government and therefore, living off their tax dollars. They also think ‘the blacks’ are violent criminals. These people do not express their racists’ views in ‘mixed company.’ They are covert racists. It used to be less popular for these people to express their views even when there were only other white people around. Since 2015 when Trump started ramping up his ridiculous rhetoric, I have noticed more disdain for African-Americans and immigrants than at any time in my life. This type of Trump supporter would only turn against Trump if he started making reparation payments to African Americans.

As a general rule, Southern Trump supporters are non-college educated white people. In the past, these people lived vicariously through wealthy fictional characters like those portrayed on the old TV series, ‘Dallas.’ Today, they live a life of vicarious wealth through ‘being a Republican.’ To these people, Republicans are the party of wealthy white people. By being a Republican, they are part of “the club.” On the other hand, to these people, the Democratic Party is the party of the poor and ‘the blacks.’ The Democratic Party is the party of those who want a ‘free-ride’ through life. These people do not want their tax dollars going to help ‘those lazy people.’ These people will only turn on Trump if the local ‘upper class’ Republicans turn on Trump. They will not vote for a Democrat; they just will not vote.

The college-educated Southern Trump supporters are usually white business owners. These people believe that they have an economic interest in Trump’s programs. These people will turn on Trump if the economy takes a significant turn for the worse. Since these people are ‘certain’ that tax cuts and deregulation are the way to handle the economy, a mild recession probably is not enough to turn these people against Trump. These people fear high taxes and regulations.

The Trump voters are afraid that the Democrats will try to take their guns away from them. Trump supporters are afraid of many things. They think the immigrants are coming to take their jobs. They think the ‘Globalists’ are exporting their jobs overseas. Only some of these people watch right-wing television. If they watch a right-wing channel, i.e. Fox News, they are assured that they have been right all along as dangerous caravans are approaching the border with the intent to invade America. The ones that do not watch these ‘news’ channels either get the word from their friends that do watch the news or they hear it on talk radio. Some get their news through Facebook.

Trump Supporters and the Media

These people see what they call the ‘Main Stream Media’ as intellectuals who have no common sense and therefore do not know what they are talking about. Often, these Trump supporters are prone to the influence of conspiracy theories. They believe the ‘Main Stream Media’ provides fake news to try to hurt Trump and take their guns. These people can relate to what they are hearing on right-wing talk radio and right-wing television. These Trump supporters hear these right-wing media personalities and think that they are confirming the things that these folks always knew.

Trump Supporters

 

These right-wing media personalities are the same type of people that they know in their towns. Some of the personalities are idolized by their viewers. They listen to these people because they identify with them. I have heard parts of the Sean Hannity radio show. It starts with a country song. Hannity has lived in my home state of Alabama. He understands his audience. The folks in Alabama listen to him and believe everything he says without question. It does not matter how ridiculous, if Hannity says it, it is the gospel.

I often listen to right-wing radio in my car. I like to see what the other side of the political spectrum is saying. I have always been amazed that these guys cannot make a logical argument that starts at point A and arrives at point B without taking some kind of looping craziness that makes no sense. It was when I noticed that Hannity and Rush Limbaugh were citing a 1952 statute regarding a matter that I cannot recall, that I decided to check and see if these guys were lawyers. I did not believe the particular statute still held the force of law as is the case with many statutes that are in the codes. This is when I discovered that neither has a college degree.

Before going further, I will note that I am not talking about traditional conservatives who just believe in tax cuts, deregulation, free trade, etc. These people just disagree with me. Yet, they usually make a coherent argument. I am talking about the ‘crazies’ who just spout out all manner of controversial foolishness. These ‘crazy people’ are the extreme right-wing. These people seem to just try to create the most ridiculous stories for rating purposes or for Trump-supporting propaganda purposes. The latest one is that the ‘Main Stream Media’ which of course, is fake news, are trying to create a recession. The most outrageous one was that AOC wants to tear down every building in America, rebuild every building, while at the same time, banning all air travel.

Even with all the propaganda aimed at these people, most Trump supporters say that they do not like Trump’s tweets. Something is keeping these people from realizing that the Trump of his tweets is the real Trump. This is the same Trump people see at a rally. This is the same Trump that we see most times that he speaks on television. These Trump supporters do not want to believe that they were wrong to vote for Trump. The extreme right-wing put their fears to rest. They are told that the President is doing exactly what he was elected to do and that he only seems crazy because of the fake news.

These Southern Trump supporters should be reading If Trump Were an Airline Pilot from the Atlantic. This is a very good article about what would be done if Trump held any other position and started calling himself ‘The Chosen One,’ the ‘King of Israel,’ or started talking about ‘buying Greenland.’ Of course, we have to also remember that Trump canceled a trip to Denmark because they would not talk to him about buying Greenland. The aforementioned article asked the question, how would you feel if an airline pilot came on the speaker and started making these statements while you are flying? In any other industry, Trump would have been removed from his position. As usual, extreme right-wing media outlets are there to assure the Trump supporters that Trump is fine and that maybe buying Greenland is a good idea.

I decided to look at the educational and experience credentials of several of the right-wing personalities in an effort to try to figure out if they are stupid or if they knowingly trying to mislead the people. My conclusion is, that for the most part, these right-wing media personalities are just as uninformed as their watchers/listeners. There are some notable exceptions. See the table below for the education/political experience of the personalities of MSNBC versus Fox News.

Trump supporters

Trump supporters

All data for this table is from Wikipedia and US News & World Report

In the table above, the names that are in italics are the ones that I have heard speak out against Trump. On the MSNBC side of the table, notice that only Willie Geist is not in italics. I do watch Morning Joe almost every morning. I do not recall Willie Geist ever saying anything negative about anyone. Willie seems to try to stay neutral. Everyone else on MSNBC does speak out against Trump. It does not matter if they are a Republican or Democrat. You could call this a ‘bias’ against having a clearly unfit President. It is difficult to comprehend anyone making a serious and intelligent argument in favor of Trump’s behavior. As an aside, notice that Joe Scarborough and I share the same alma mater. Our alma mater does not rank very high, but it has a hell of a football team! As for news and political opinion, I prefer to watch those who are more intelligent than I am.

I do not always agree with the commentators on MSNBC, but I do take them seriously. The people that watch Fox News and listen to right-wing radio seem to just want to hear their own opinions validated. These people do not want their opinions to be challenged. Because their own opinions are being validated, they leave themselves open to the more extreme positions advanced by some of these personalities.

Looking at the Fox News side of the table, notice that those that attended top universities have their names in italics, with one exception. Both Chris Wallace and Andrew Napolitano do occasionally speak against Trump. Both of these reporters have Ivy League degrees. These commentators have taken a position of journalistic integrity.

The exception to the general rule that the most educated commentators are not Trump propagandists is Laura Ingraham. Ms. Ingraham is clearly intelligent. Yet, she has a history of not making serious arguments. I first became aware of Ms. Ingraham as I was driving through Birmingham, AL listening to talk radio. She was promoting her book, ‘The Obama Diaries.’ The cover of the book looks satirical. When I heard her on the radio, she was promoting the book as real. I suspect that ‘everyone was supposed to know she was kidding.’ There was no disclaimer and her listeners were the type of people that would believe it. One of the reviewers on Amazon had this to say about her book: ‘I am a Reagan Republican, but this kind of tripe shouldn’t be taken seriously. The content is laughable at best, the premise is utterly ridiculous, and the tone is juvenile.’ I have never read the book. On the radio, as I remember it, she had just discovered a new section that was not in the book. It had to do with Michelle Obama making absolutely outrageous statements which would be totally out of character from everything we know about the former First Lady.

Ms. Ingraham wrote a book that was a complete lie. She is somewhat shielded from libel because it could fall under the protection of satire. She was probably more shielded from libel due to the good nature of the Obamas. The difference in the ‘Obama Diaries’ and a Saturday Night Live skit portraying Trump is that a Saturday Night Live skit is obviously satire. Everyone knows that Alec Baldwin is not Donald Trump. What Ms. Ingraham wrote was absolutely as outrageous as the fake news provided by Russian bots on social media. The Obama Diaries would fall into the same category as the Pizza Gate conspiracy. Evidently, it was this book that made Laura Ingraham famous. Now, this person is a prime time Fox News personality. Is this journalism? This is someone who has shown that she is willing to just make things up. Unfortunately, she is not the only one on Fox News that will just make things up. The Sean Hannity falls into this category too.

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I cannot speak about the others on Fox News. The only other one that I am familiar with is Tucker Carlson. When he was on CNN many years ago, he seemed like just another Republican. He did not seem like one of these absolutely crazy people like Hannity, Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, etc. I have heard bad things about Carlson, but have not witnessed it.

Conclusion

Fox News was created to provide the public with Republican propaganda. See Ailes, Nixon and the Plan for ‘Putting the GOP on TV News’ from Rolling Stone. This is a very good article detailing Roger Ailes’ history of providing Republican propaganda. Roger Ailes’ precursor to Fox News supplied local television channels with GOP propaganda for their newscasts. Having a network that provides one-sided opinion shows is legal. It should not be. It was not legal until the Fairness Doctrine was removed in the late 1980s. Shortly thereafter, came Rush Limbaugh and later Fox News. Along with these single opinion outlets, came gridlock in Washington.

The true danger of this one-sided news phenomena was not apparent until 2010. That is the year that Fox News favorably covered the ‘Tea Party Movement.’ This so-called patriotic Tea Party had nothing in common with the original Tea Party. The original Tea Party was about ‘taxation without representation.’ However, these 21st Century Tea Party pretenders were not only fully represented, but were generally from areas of the nation that are ‘over-represented’ in Congress, i.e., smaller states. The people really did not know what they were protesting. They did not want Obamacare, but many liked the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many did not know that it was the same thing. They did not want their taxes going to help ‘those lazy people’ and foreigners, but most of these people were not the ones who were paying much in taxes.

I do not believe the Tea Party movement could have gotten off the ground without Fox News being a willing supporter. The Tea Party was the first time Fox News helped people form a radical movement that worked against the interests of many Fox News viewers. Fox News created the conditions that led to Trump. Without Fox News, Trump would have probably never been elected. What was once the Tea Party has now become the Trump Party. Were it not for Fox News, Trump would probably have been removed from office by now.

To this day, most of the people that I know that follow extreme right-wing radio and watch Fox News believe the Mueller Report cleared Trump of any wrongdoing. They all fear the ‘caravans’ that are coming to invade America. They are suspicious that Democrats want to impose Atheism on them. They believe that Democrats are trying to make Christmas politically incorrect. I could list many more ridiculous beliefs these Fox News viewers have. Perhaps such a list will be in another story.

The idea that it is normal to have single opinion media outlets needs to end on the right as well as the left. In the quest for ratings, such a single opinion outlet will always need to become more and more outrageous in order to stay relevant. The result is a space for extremism within the norms of our society. At the very least, outrageous commentary needs to be regulated. Else, our nation will continue to be torn apart.

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John Coble
John Coble has practiced as both a CPA and an Attorney. John's legal specialties were tax law and bankruptcy law. Before starting his own firm, John worked for law offices, accounting firms, and one of America's largest banks. John handled almost 1,500 bankruptcy cases in the eight years that he ran his own law office. John has spent the last few years developing software and working on select data science projects. John holds a second law degree (LLM in Taxation) from the University of Alabama School of Law and a Data Science Certificate from Microsoft. John has worked on other graduate-level education in the fields of business and economics.

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