Wilson, a conservative who has long been critical of Trump, referred to the president’s base as “the credulous boomer rube demo” — a bloc of Americans who believe “Donald Trump is the smart one and y’all elitists are dumb.”
In mocking accents, Wilson and CNN contributor Wajahat Ali began imitating how the president’s supporters must criticize journalists and Trump critics as elitists because of their knowledge about foreign affairs and other political matters.
“You elitists with your geography and your maps and your spelling,” Ali said.
“Your math and your reading,” Wilson added.
All the while, CNN anchor Don Lemon laughed loudly.
Since early in the 2016 election, Trump has been the choice of white working-class voters — particularly those who live in rural America. Despite Trump being a New Yorker with an Ivy League pedigree, these Americans have said he understands them in ways other politicians and the elite media do not.
As negative headlines about this administration continue to pile up, Trump’s support with those voters who sent him to the Oval Office remains strong. One of the reasons they continue to stick by him — despite critics’ claims that Trump has failed to keep the promises he made to rural Americans — is that the president and many of these voters share what they perceive as a common enemy: elite media and specifically, CNN. (Disclosure: This reporter worked at CNN.)
Cable news is where Trump arguably birthed his political career. Long before he occupied the White House, he was a regular on Fox News, weighing in on political matters of the day. But since those days when he’d call in to “Fox & Friends,” arguably the most pro-Trump program on cable, the president’s relationship with cable news has soured — specifically with CNN.
Some of Trump’s most high-profile surrogates took to social media quickly to condemn the CNN employees for their comments.
“The arrogance, mocking accents and smug ridicule of this nation’s ‘Real Elites’ is disgusting,” tweeted Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who is well-known for her acrimonious relationship with many media outlets, tweeted: “There’s a reason trust in our media is at an all time low.”
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee suggested that on Election Day, it would be Trump’s rural, white working-class supporters who would have the last laugh.
“Keep up your contempt of us deplorable ‘hillbillies,’” he tweeted. “Laugh at us loud now. Election night when Donald Trump wins in landslide reelection, I’m sure you won’t look so smug.”
Trump surrogates — including the media that supports him — have always exploited the president’s ongoing attacks on the mainstream media. Segments like the CNN one that White House aides criticized can be found almost nightly on Fox News. Hosts like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham regularly laugh as their guests endlessly mock and disrespect the liberal Americans who find this presidency deplorable. Despite this, conservative media is likely to blow the CNN segment out of proportion to further its own narrative.
In the states where white working-class rural voters have large populations, Trump remains well-liked despite being impeached and being the object of criticism across the globe. Seeing media personalities go from criticizing the president to directly mocking his supporters, even in just this one instance, is all Trump and his team need to illustrate the president’s frequent portrayal of CNN as a media organization that not only dislikes Trump but also doesn’t value Americans who support him.