President Trump, first lady Melania and their son Barron left New Jersey on Aug. 20, for Washington, D.C., at the end of the president's "working vacation." (The Washington Post)

A recurring story line in the conservative Daily Caller goes something like this: President Trump's 11-year-old son, Barron, gets bullied online by some jerk, proving that liberals and the media (which are basically the same thing) have no class.

The site co-founded (but no longer edited) by Fox News star Tucker Carlson has chronicled the time a “Saturday Night Live” writer predicted that Barron “will become this country's first homeschool shooter,” the time a Canadian journalist tweeted about Barron's “resting b---- face,” the time a Comedy Central contributor said that “Barron Trump looks like a very handsome date-rapist-to-be,” the time a random YouTuber posted a video suggesting Barron is autistic and the time former “Jeopardy” champion Ken Jennings mocked Barron's response to Kathy Griffin's infamous severed-head photo.

So it was more than a little surprising to read this Daily Caller headline Monday: “It’s high time Barron Trump starts dressing like he’s in the White House.” Just a couple of months ago, the Daily Caller suggested that the T-shirt-wearing Trump is a trendsetter, reporting that a graphical tee sold out at J. Crew soon after Barron was photographed sporting one.

“Donald Trump and Melania always depart the White House looking their best,” entertainment reporter Ford Springer wrote this time, remarking on the first family's attire Sunday (pictured above). “The president wore a fine tailored suit and Melania wore an elegant dress just as jaw-dropping as the last. But then Barron steps out in a T-shirt, khaki shorts and some suede loafers.”

As critiques go, this was pretty gentle. Let's not equate a complaint about casual attire with some of the truly awful remarks the Daily Caller has covered in the past.

Still, the world seems upside down when the Daily Caller is picking on a Trump and a Clinton is coming to his defense. Chelsea Clinton, who knows a thing or two about being scrutinized as a kid in the White House, tweeted that “it's high time the media & everyone leave Barron Trump alone.”

The White House, which typically saves its objections for the “failing” New York Times and “fake news” CNN, also responded to the Daily Caller’s article on Tuesday. Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Melania Trump, told the Associated Press that Barron “deserves every opportunity to have a private childhood.”

In a vacuum, this episode is not a big deal. In the context of broader coverage trends, however, it is one more tiny indicator that some pro-Trump news outlets and media figures are increasingly willing to criticize the president — and apparently his family — for major and minor things.

The Daily Caller published the article about Barron on the day the president delivered a speech about Afghanistan that Breitbart News ripped up and down.

Ann Coulter wasn't a fan, either.

Infowars host Mike Cernovich hated the speech, too.

And in case you're wondering, the Daily Caller's speech coverage wasn't very favorable, either.

“With Afghanistan address, Trump pleased longtime rivals and upset allies,” read one headline on the site. “Laura Ingraham on Afghanistan: People want 'drain the swamp,' not 'clear the desert,'" read another. A third article featured a photograph of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump's presidential primary opponents, under the headline: “This guy is loving Trump's Afghanistan policy.”

The Daily Caller's clear message is that Trump is betraying his base by sending more troops to Afghanistan. The site published a fourth headline based on a quote in a Washington Post report. Daily Caller's headline read: “McMaster showed Trump picture of Afghan women in skirts to sell troop increase.”

It is not freakout time for Trump. Not yet, anyway. But he needs the likes of Cernovich, Coulter, Breitbart and the Daily Caller to hold his base. Any sign that they are losing patience with him is cause for concern.