After three acts of right-wing violence in a week, President Donald Trump’s son Eric turned to a friendly forum to swat away the notion that his father might bear any responsibility for his fellow-travelers’ penchant for killing the people he vilifies.
Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro talked to the younger Trump by phone on Saturday night’s show, offering him a chance to shrug off the obvious connections between radical speech from the White House and radical actions from right-wingers. People should not see Trump’s influence in the killing of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue or the so-called “MAGAbomber” in Florida, he said.
“Listen, America, America mourns, right? I mean, this whack job destroyed lives, he upended a community,” Trump told Pirro.
The pair did not acknowledge the week’s third act of right-wing terrorism, the apparently racially motivated murder of two black shoppers at a Kentucky grocery.
“As we look at the news in the past week, is it a sign of the times…is this a sign of the rhetoric and the outrage that people are hearing?” Pirro asked.
“Listen, there might be, and there might not be,” Trump replied. “It seems like we’ve gotten to a point in life and society where everything has to be politicized.”
Pirro quickly invoked the memory of 9/11 to explain why the president was right to carry on with his planned rally Saturday night in Illinois — an event at which attendees again chanted hateful messages aimed at the media and other perceived political enemies.
Later that same night, the president approvingly tweeted an interview conducted by Dana Loesch, who recorded multiple National Rifle Association ads that encourage conservatives to see themselves as in a state of war with their political opponents.
Even the vague way in which Pirro framed her question suggests an embrace of the up-is-down, he-hit-me-first approach to Trump’s turgid, rage-tinged rally populism that’s been adopted by mainstream Republican allies in recent months.
Her generic invocation of “the rhetoric and outrage people are hearing” could just as easily reflect the Republican Party’s portrayal of protesters who shout at Mitch McConnell in restaurants as a “mob” as it could the party leadership’s habit of portraying bombing targets like George Soros as shadowy string-pullers bent on thwarting the MAGA-lution’s legitimate claim to power.
That cloying rewrite of the political narrative has even gained traction with some centrist Democrats, most notably Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
It’s a powerful revisionism that deflects all responsibility and thus keeps the lane clear for Trump to keep Trumping without consequence. That’s nothing new, but notable here for the fact Pirro feels the need to even entertain the question in primetime, now that people are dying in ways that reflect the war-against-globalist-Jews narrative that Trump, Pirro, and others have peddled for years.
Pirro’s show has always been a port in the storm for Trump’s regime. She’s scored multiple sit-downs with the president and stuffed them with “direct invitations for Trump to praise himself,” as Media Matters’ Simon Maloy put it in a detailed review of Pirro’s role in the broader Trump machine.
Her coziness with the regime has produced this same kind of cavalierly nonsensical attempts to have it both ways, too, most famously when she went hard on White House staffer Rob Porter’s penchant for hitting his wife, but then insisted it was really Obama’s fault that the staffer Trump defended had a job at all.
Pirro herself has promoted conspiracy theories about George Soros, saying that protests against police violence and against Trump himself are ginned up by Soros money. Right-wing figures have spent more than a decade trying to deligitimize left critiques of U.S. society by portraying Soros as a “puppetmaster” and globalist, among other euphemisms for “jewish person” popular with white supremacists and the so-called “alt-right” that helped elect Trump.
There was a time when this stuff got people like Glenn Beck pushed out of their jobs. Now, Pirro is free to talk out of both sides of her face about the relationship between the secret-cabal conspiracies she peddles and the violence undertaken against Soros and others by people who gobble up that worldview.
“Beware the sleeping giant, the silent majority of us,” Pirro said in a 2016 commentary segment blasting Trump protesters for shutting down his campaign rally in Chicago that year. “We will not be silenced.”