On Tuesday evening and throughout Wednesday, conservative media outlets extensively—and mostly warmly—covered President Donald Trump’s address to Congress.
Taking a sober but enthusiastic tone, Independent Journal Review described Trump’s performance as “a largely positive, optimistic speech” and “hope-filled.” Fox News called it “generally well-received” and wrote that it “could mark an opportunity for Trump to reset his young presidency after a rocky start in which clashes with the media and staffing controversies at times overshadowed action on the jobs front.”
Other conservative publications were more gung ho. Breitbart, which published more than 20 posts on the topic, titled one of its articles, “Trump Speech Offered America Cathartic Moment of Mourning.” That headline referred to what the article went on to describe as “a poignant, tearful moment as the president led the room in a sustained standing ovation for the widow of Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens.” That same moment featured heavily in coverage from other publications. The Daily Caller, for example, promoted a post on the topic with the home-page headline, “President Trump Recognized a SEAL’s Widow—And There Can’t Be a Dry Eye in the Entire Country.”
Trump’s reference to Owens also played a prominent role in conservative criticism of liberal responses to the speech. A Breitbart post titled “Left Attacks Grieving Widow of Navy SEAL Following Trump’s Tribute” drew attention on Twitter. The Daily Caller ran multiple posts chastising Democrats for their muted responses to the speech. Nevertheless, it also wrote that he “received praise from both sides of the aisle,” in an article gathering positive reviews from media personalities.
When it came to the actual specifics of Trump’s speech, many conservative outlets found reason to celebrate. Breitbart, for example, ran an article titled, “Trump Highlights Health Itself, Not Just Health Insurance,” in which it suggested that the president’s policies would help citizens get beyond what it called our “Kafka-esque nightmares of bureaucratic befuddlement and bamboozlement.”
Other conservative publications, however, were more hesitant. Fox News, for example, wrote, “As with his campaign promises, the ambitious agenda laid out in Tuesday’s speech will soon meet with the challenging realities of legislating.” It went on to note that the president had “set markers for Congress … without necessarily explaining how to get there.”
Writers for National Review were similarly guarded. In “Trump’s Speech Was Effective – and It Gave the Markets Reason for Cautious Optimism,” David L. Bahnsen wrote, “Markets continue to believe that Obamacare repeal and replacement and corporate-tax reform are coming, and that deficits are not going to balloon because of Trump’s agenda.” He warned, however, that Trump’s planned infrastructure stimulus “does have extreme potential for crony capitalism.”
In a shorter post for the publication, Rich Lowry wrote, “I agree with everyone that it was the best Trump speech yet.” He went on, however, to issue some caveats, writing, “The over-promising was remarkable even in a forum where every president over-promises.” He also noted that the speech lacked significant markers of either fiscal or social conservatism. (Others also pointed to this as a possible concern: For example, in a Fox News article, Dan Gainor wrote, “Conservatives were, of course, upbeat about the speech, even though parts weren’t especially conservative.”) Ultimately, Lowry praised the speech most for allowing Trump to deliver “his core message, in [a] way that was domesticated to the presidency.”
Heat Street likewise focused on the tone of the speech, writing that it “departed from his earlier addresses with a more positive tone.” But that article closed by suggesting that the surprising shift likely had more to do with Trump’s speechwriter than with the president himself.
Finally, posts criticizing Democrats in attendance were widely shared from conservative social media pages: