by Eric Boehlert/media matters
Lots of conservative opinion makers expressed dismay at the sight of Republican front-runner Mitt Romney appearing in Las Vegas Thursday to receive the endorsement of reality TV host, and full-time birther, Donald Trump. Livid GOP boosters denounced the move as "unseemly" and a "fiasco" that represents the "biggest blunder" of Romney's candidacy. They openly mocked the Republican for his "moronic" campaign maneuver.
Message: Trump is a joke and Romney looked small and un-presidential glad-handing the developer on stage.
The slings may be directed Team Romney's way, but who's really to blame for Thursday's campaign "fiasco"? Fox News.
Let's not forget it was Fox News that nearly twelve months ago decided that golf course owner Donald Trump ought to be elevated to national status as a Republican kingmaker and Very Serious Person. It was Fox News, desperate for new anti-Obama content, that embraced Trump's farcical birther charade.
Celebrating Trump last year, Fox News covered the birther story with endless "news" segments, only to watch the tale crash in spectacular fashion when the White House released the president's long-form birth certificate.
The original rise of Trump, not to mention his return this week, was bought and paid for by Roger Ailes and Fox News. They were the ones who couldn't stop pointing a camera at him last year when he went all birther. They were the ones who turned him into a GOP celebrity. (Sadly, other media outlets followed.) And Fox was the one that, yet again, moved to elevate celebrity above policy and common sense within the conservative movement.
Without Fox's incessant marketing last year, who would even care which candidate Trump is endorsing in this year's GOP primary? Likely nobody. But because Fox made the conscious decision to transform Trump into a right-wing celebrity, nominees-to-be like Mitt Romney now feel the need to embrace his "unseemly" and "moronic" endorsement.
Conservatives are shaking their heads. Maybe now they'll begin to understand how Fox News is destroying the Republican Party.