Today in Conservative Media is a daily roundup of the biggest stories in the right-wing press.
The Trump administration’s budget dropped Monday with much of what makes Trump Trump: lots of proposed defense spending, a nod toward infrastructure, coupled with steep cuts to social programs like Medicare. In the end, the proposed budget is likely more policy signaling to various interest groups than actual, potential policy. Conservative media seemed less interested in the Trump budget than mainstream outlets and left publications that instantly parsed the Trump budget looking for evidence of priorities and policy implications, but, by late in the day, responses from conservative media outlets began to trickle in.
From traditional conservative corners, the worry continues to be that the party of fiscal discipline now has the taste for sweet, sweet spending. “Our infrastructure isn’t crumbling, but our national fiscal position could use some shoring up,” the editors at National Review wrote Monday. “The economy is not currently in need of stimulus, but the Republicans’ instinct for fiscal conservatism is.”
Nathanael Blake at the Federalist frames the budget’s—and the country’s— indifference to the national debt in moral terms—and thinks others should too. “There seem to be two main factors behind our disinclination to describe persistent deficit spending—and the massive national debt it produces—as a moral wrong,” Blake writes. “The first is that the national debt doesn’t seem real to us; it is just numbers somewhere in the ether. Even people who consistently oppose reckless deficit spending tend to treat it abstractly. The second is that both parties are thoroughly guilty of contributing to the problem, so partisans have a strong incentive to be indulgent on the subject.”
As for the nuts and bolts of the bill? “On the down side, there is a lot of new federal spending here,” Christian Britschgi writes at Reason. “On the upside, there is an effort to shift a lot of the financing burden for new projects onto states, localities, individual users, and private investors, to streamline regulations on those new projects, and to make it easier to privatize existing federal assets.” Neil Munro at Breitbart focused on the immigration-related provisions in the bill, noting that it asks Congress for “$1.6 billion in appropriations to build 65 more miles of border wall in 2019—and is also asking for $18 billion to be set aside in the two-year budget for border-wall funding over the next few years.”
In other news
Over the first weekend of the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang there was plenty of political posturing and diplomatic posing, particularly in Vice President Mike Pence sharing close quarters with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The media obsessed over the interactions—real and perceived—between the pair, sitting just a few seats from one another. Jokes clanged around the internet, American press picked up on South Korean media dubbing the North Korean president’s sister “Kim Jong-un’s Ivanka,” and conservative media had had enough.
Chris Reeves at Townhall summed up the mood on the right with a post titled: “American Media Literally Fawned Over North Korea’s Propaganda Minister.” National Review’s David French was unimpressed with the third estate’s breezy coverage. “A media fail this large displays all the press’s faults at once—partisanship, ideology, and clickbait culture come together to create a storm of stupidity,” French writes. “It’s a simple fact that we’ve reached a point where American partisans will applaud when foreign leaders oppose or (allegedly) humiliate their domestic political opponents.” Serious times require serious effort, French concludes. “The extraordinarily high stakes of America’s confrontation with North Korea demands sober judgment and cool-headed analysis. It demands the best from the American media.”
Peter Hasson at the Daily Caller framed the weekend’s coverage in contrast to North Korean defector Ji Seong Ho, who was featured in President Trump’s State of the Union.
Ji Seong Ho told Hasson the “South Korean people hate Kim Yo Jong and her visit.”
The publisher of the Federalist, Ben Domenech went the furthest in rebuking the media’s coverage with his post: “Dear America: Your News Media Absolutely Hates You.” “It’d be nice to say that American media doesn’t hate this country. It’d be nice to claim that the American press, while maintaining objectivity and balancing against bias, is still inherently American—that they are patriots who love this country even as they report on its defects,” Domenech writes. “Having judged the American project kaput after the election of Donald Trump, they are now stooping to the level of defending the North Koreans—perhaps the most brutal and heinous regime in the world today—thanks to some side-eye from its minister of propaganda, the sister of Kim Jong Un.”
Brandon Morse at RedState wrote the Olympic coverage failed the taste test, writing that it “left a bad taste in America’s mouth.”
Elsewhere in Redstate’s Olympic coverage, Morse had a message for American athletes Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon: “You’re gay. Get over it.”
“With these unnecessary posts from Kenworthy, the two men turned their sports expedition into a political one, and every action they had there was tainted with it,” Morse writes.“Being gay used to be a powerful counter-culture thing decades ago, but nowadays it seems the shock value of being homosexual is pretty much all but dissipated. A man announcing he’s gay in today’s society is worth about a shrug, right before we go back to doing whatever was far more interesting before … like pretty much anything.”
“Gay people are about as common as gray on a rat in today’s society,” Morse concludes. “The bottom line is that being gay doesn’t make you special, it makes you gay. It doesn’t make you a cultural mouthpiece for the western world, nor does it make you a mouthpiece for the LGBT community at large.”