The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump Got Trolled

I’m open to believing the worst on Russia, but at the moment I think the likeliest theory of what’s happened is that Trump, in effect, got trolled into lashing out over the investigation and the press coverage. I wrote about this for Politico today:

Rush Limbaugh a couple of weeks ago said he was laughing over Trump’s “epic troll” of the Democrats by firing FBI Director James Comey (and meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the next day). It was really the other way around. Trump wasn’t the troller; he was the trollee…

Limbaugh isn’t wrong to identify Trump with this species of provocation. In fact, it’s possible to see Trump’s entire campaign in 2016 as one long troll of respectable opinion. He routinely stoked the outrage and disgust of the media and the establishment in a way that boosted him in the eyes of his supporters. It’s no accident that among his most ardent admirers were fellow practitioners, like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos…

How did the hunter become the hunted in the Russian controversy? Trump’s critics stumbled on a couple of his greatest weaknesses — namely, an extreme sensitivity to slights over his status (in this case, as winner of last year’s election) and to negative media coverage.