In case you were still waffling on whether or not conservatism had devolved into the political equivalent of a grease fire, now comes news that a friend and “adviser” to Donald Trump Jr., the offspring who is sufficiently uninvolved in his father’s administration to run the family business so that Trump Sr. does not have to (cough) divest himself from it, has been busy compiling “dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts” from journalists who report on Trump or his administration.
The intent, according to The New York Times, is to wage war on the careers of any journalist who reports unflattering information about Donald Trump or his administration that might be “harmful” to Dear Leader’s re-election.
This is both absolutely batshit crazy and perfectly in line with new “conservatism,” the James O’Keefe- and Breitbart-led belief that all those who mention facts inconvenient to the conservative movement to be co-conspirators in a massive plot against the movement who need to be vanquished so that the inconvenient facts stop being repeated. Note here that Uday’s political ally is not compiling “dossiers” on Trump’s political rivals or ideological foes: He’s compiling “dossiers” on the press.
And there’s no effort to pretend it is for any purpose other than intimidation and retaliation. Write something displeasing to Dear Leader or hurtful to Dear Leader’s election chances, and you will be the target of an organized campaign seeking to ruin you. Hundreds of online conservative activists will hound you; your place of work will be inundated with all the organized outrage Donald Jr.’s retweets can inspire.
Much of the focus appears to be on past statements that Trump supporters can point to as “racist” or “anti-Semitic”—the insincerity should be glaringly obvious—but the Times‘ only glancingly references one of the most likely scenarios that will come from this. It’s very likely that much of the information used by the Steve Bannon-tied “conservative consultant” Arthur Schwartz to wage this retaliation will be either misleading, embellished, or both. That, too, is a hallmark of the Breitbartization of the movement.
The point is not, after all, to expose wrongdoing. The point is to intimidate and to silence any member of the press who can be silenced. The accusations do not need to be compelling, or even true, to accomplish that goal.
You aren’t going to find a coherent trade policy in this version of conservatism. Don’t bother expecting opinions on tariffs that are based on anything more substantive than punishing a declared enemy of the movement. It exists solely as a bucket of conspiracies and spite; every policy stance, every social platform consists of identifying enemies of the movement and retaliating against them with whatever force and tools can be mustered.
Journalism has been identified as one of conservatism’s primary foes—and has been since long before the current Dear Leader crawled onstage from below a gilded manhole cover. Compiling individual “dossiers” on how best to intimidate each journalist is exactly what conservatism is at this point. And it will get worse.