It is not every day that Breitbart News highlights commentary from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, but the “Hardball” host said something on Thursday that Breitbart wanted to amplify. Matthews said that if he were President Trump, he would fire White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.
It was a glib remark, made in the context of a discussion about reports that Kelly is trying to position himself as Trump’s gatekeeper, blocking dubious news articles from reaching the president’s desk. “He’s controlling the cage,” Matthews said of Kelly. “If I were Trump, I’d fire him just for saying that.”
The implication is that Trump’s ego should rebel against Kelly’s attempt to control what the president sees. To be sure, reports on Kelly’s effort, by Politico and the New York Times, are a bit insulting, suggesting that Kelly views Trump as highly impressionable and incapable of discerning fact from fiction on his own.
If Kelly’s new system works, perhaps Trump’s pride won’t be wounded because he won’t see Breitbart’s article — or Politico’s or the Times’s or this one. But considering the amount of time Trump spends glued to Twitter and cable news, it is extremely difficult to block information from reaching him.
Thus, as Kelly tries to filter out articles from the likes of Breitbart, Infowars, GotNews and the Gateway Pundit, those websites will likely try to erode his standing in their readers’ — and the president’s — eyes. And their message will probably get through to Trump, one way or another.
Infowars’s Paul Joseph Watson wrote on Friday that Kelly’s restrictions “will undoubtedly bolster complaints emanating from Trump’s base that he has been isolated and surrounded by globalists who have no interest in furthering Trump’s ‘America first’ message.”
Mike Cernovich, another Infowars personality, told BuzzFeed that he is confident the president will continue to see news from sources like Infowars because Donald Trump Jr., who does not work in the White House, will pass articles along to his father, unchecked by Kelly. GotNews founder Charles C. Johnson added his belief that first lady Melania Trump also will supply unfiltered news to the president.
An un-bylined GotNews post on Thursday struck a defiant note: “We in the alternative media won the election for Trump. We will survive a failed general who was weak on borders. The people who share the truth with the president are those we are interested in helping. Those who seek to control him have not learned the key lesson of the 2016 election: Neither Trump nor the people will be controlled.”
Much of the pro-Trump media’s fury this week has been aimed at a different general, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who prevailed on the president not to withdraw from Afghanistan. Chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, always a favorite target, drew new fire for publicly criticizing Trump’s response to Charlottesville in an interview with the Financial Times.
But Kelly’s turn is coming, if it hasn’t already arrived.