By now, we have grown accustomed to criticism of President Trump from the likes of Breitbart News and Ann Coulter, election-year superfans who suddenly feel betrayed by some of the president's actions in office.
Sean Hannity, however, has remained so loyal that Coulter wrote in June that he “would endorse communism if Trump decided to implement the policies of 'The Communist Manifesto.' ”
Now, even Hannity's support is being tested, after Democratic leaders said Wednesday night that Trump had agreed to pursue a legislative agenda that would protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation without securing funding for a Southern border wall in return.
Notice the caveats at the end there. Hannity leaves open the possibility that Trump didn't really cave at all (fake news!) and offers an excuse, in case he did. The president isn't responsible for his own decisions, Hannity argues; other Republicans are forcing him into bad moves by not being supportive enough.
Still, these are some harsh tweets, by Hannity's standard. His reference to “read my lips: no new taxes” is especially pointed. That, of course, was the signature campaign pledge of George H.W. Bush in 1988. Once elected, Bush did raise taxes, in 1990, and later failed in his bid for reelection.
(As The Fact Checker's Glenn Kessler has pointed out, exit polls indicate that Bush's broken tax promise was not the principal reason that he lost in 1992. But Hannity is using Bush as a cautionary tale when he says that Trump “needs to stay the course and keep his promises or it's over!”)
Hannity certainly hasn't jumped off the Trump Train, but the Fox News star is dangling a foot, suggesting that there is something Trump could do to lose Hannity's enthusiastic backing.
Trump can hardly afford waning enthusiasm in his cheering section. His net approval rating was zero shortly after Inauguration Day, according to Gallup, meaning the percentage of voters who approved of his job performance was equal to the percentage of voters who disapproved. His latest rating is minus-20, indicating that the public is souring on Trump.
Trump relies on his media allies to help keep the faith. Instead, Coulter is tweeting stuff like this:
And Breitbart is publishing headlines like these:
Breitbart's “Amnesty Don” headline matches the title of a song that MSNBC's Joe Scarborough recorded during the campaign to mock Trump. Recall that another recent Breitbart headline (“President H.R. McMaster”) riffed on a New York Times headline (“President Bannon”).
Breitbart has gone from bashing Trump's media nemeses to using them as inspiration for its own scathing coverage of the president.
Hannity remains far gentler, but he has served notice that Trump cannot take him for granted.