How right-wing media outlets sell MAGA voters a 'noxious' 'sense of oppression'
When FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, August 8, it didn’t take far-right Republicans long to explode in a fit of rage — from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to pundits at Fox News to former President Donald Trump himself. And some MAGA Republicans are promoting a conspiracy theory that FBI agents planted false evidence at Mar-a-Lago during the search.
This persecution narrative is the focus of two opinion pieces published on August 11: a column by Washington Post opinion writer Paul Waldman and a Politico op-ed by former federal prosecutor and ex-FBI agent Chuck Rosenberg. According to Waldman, right-wing media outlets are pushing a message that the Mar-a-Lago search and other Trump-related investigations are about much more than Trump — they are an attack on MAGA voters in general.
“When you watch the collection of nincompoops whose professional lives are organized around defending Donald Trump — the Fox News hosts, the backbench members of Congress, the far-right social media personalities — it’s easy to conclude that, to quote Trump himself, ‘they’re not sending their best,’” Waldman argues. “But they know their audience, and they’re very good at identifying what that audience needs to hear, then repeating it over and over. And right now, with investigations potentially closing in on Trump from multiple directions, they’ve homed in on a vital message: This isn’t about Trump. It’s about you.”
Waldman continues, “It’s ludicrous; after all, what could be less about you than whether Trump illegally retained classified documents or lied about the value of his properties to mislead tax authorities? But the claim is absolutely vital to maintaining the Republican base’s support and passion for him. That’s because a sense of oppression has become central to motivating conservative voters, a way of keeping them engaged, angry and feeling that they have a personal stake in the outcome of every political event, no matter how remote it might seem.”
In Politico, Rosenberg slams the “planted evidence” conspiracy theory as “pathetic.”
“In a pathetic and predictable development, supporters of Donald Trump have lobbed an outrageous lie into the public arena,” Rosenberg explains. “No, not the one about a stolen election. Another one. The FBI, they claim, ‘planted’ incriminating evidence at Trump’s Florida home when they searched it earlier this week. That search, pursuant to a lawful warrant authorized by a federal judge, was executed by special agents in the FBI’s Miami Division. Lies for and by Trump are noxious, but they happen so frequently that we tend to ignore — in some cases — the harms they cause.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray has refused to comment on the planted evidence claim, which Rosenberg believes is a mistake.
Rosenberg writes, “Of course, Justice Department and FBI officials cannot ordinarily comment on ongoing grand jury investigations…. But the FBI director did not have to comment about the Trump case to rebut the ‘planted’ evidence fib.”
Nonsense conspiracy theories about the FBI, Rosenberg adds, “undermine” their work and the “morale” of their agents.
“Is there any value to Wray categorically denying the ‘planted’ evidence accusation?” Rosenberg writes. “At the very least, it would support the Miami agents who executed the search, 13,000 other FBI special agents and the remaining 24,000 professionals who work for the FBI in hundreds of offices, small and large. Is it useful to anyone else? Yes. It is the type of thing that the press and the public should hear, too, because agents did not plant evidence.”
- Trump lawyer reveals the three areas the FBI focused on during Mar ... ›
- 'Mistrust and paranoia': Trump loyalists accuse aides of 'flipping ... ›
- FBI Director details the 'deplorable' threats he's received since Mar-a ... ›