Fox News to Trump: 'How can you drain the swamp if you're the one who keeps muddying the waters?'
The recent collapse of Trump's lies about his hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels has prompted conservative media outlets to hit the panic button.
Several right-wing outlets and personalities have taken a quick break from helping to prop up Trump's unpopular presidency to criticize how he and his team have handled the story.
Newly hired Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has created yet another slow-motion trainwreck for this administration, this time consisting of a series of television appearances and newspaper interviews in which Giuliani admitted Trump paid Michael Cohen to funnel money to Daniels in exchange for her pre-election silence.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto complained on-air in a commentary directed to Trump: "How can you drain the swamp if you're the one who keeps muddying the waters?"
Citing Trump's direct denials of the payments, in contrast to the evidence now known about the transaction, Cavuto said, "I'm having a devil of a time figuring out which news is fake."
The criticism echoes some elements of press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' press briefing, where she effectively admitted that Trump had lied about the details of the story when it first broke.
Cavuto told Trump "your own words" give "lots of pause." He concluded, "I guess you're too busy draining the swamp to ever stop and smell the stink you're creating. That's your doing. That's your stink. Mr. President, that's your swamp."
Catch Neil's latest Common Sense pic.twitter.com/JdGCX4WmjF
— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) May 3, 2018
An editorial from the Wall Street Journal called out Trump's "public deceptions" and noted "the attempted cover-up has done greater harm than any affair would have."
The conservative newspaper highlighted the crisis of credibility that Trump has created as he repeatedly lied about the payoff, and now "wants everyone to believe a new story that he could have told the first time."
In their conclusion, the Journal writes, "Mr. Trump is compiling a record that increases the likelihood that few will believe him during a genuine crisis," and, "Mr. Trump should worry that Americans will stop believing anything he says."
In National Review, senior writer David French warns voters on the religious right that Trump is causing irrevocable harm to the entire conservative cause through his embrace of open deception.
French notes, "all too many fellow believers have torched their credibility and exposed immense hypocrisy through fear, faithlessness, and ambition."
Referencing support for Trump among those voters, he writes, "You’ll stand in the wreckage of your own reputation and ask yourself, 'Was it worth it?' The answer will be as clear then as it should be clear now. It’s not, and it never was."
It isn't that Trump will be completely ostracized in the right-wing media world. And in all likelihood the sympathetic venues will continue to back him and make excuses for his failing administration (for instance, it's unlikely a sycophant like Sean Hannity will ever rebuke Trump). But these statements all make it clear that conservatives realize Trump's lies are hurting them.
Like the Republican candidates who lost races in states like Alabama, Virginia, and New Jersey and in congressional districts that voted for Trump in Pennsylvania, he is weighing down the right-wing movement like an anchor.
Conservative media is trying to stop Trump before he does more damage, and they're trying to warn his core supporters to run away from the wreckage. Their protests are probably in vain.