Good Friday Morning! Especially to the Tennessee Titans, who released the BEST video for the NFL release schedule I’ve ever seen. The Titans sent their social media staffers down to Broadway in Nashville. They asked some drunk bachelorette party girls and guys to name the teams on the Titans’ schedule this upcoming season. The Titans staff didn’t find a single football fan, nor is there much evidence anyone was sober, and the results are hilarious.
Speaking of hilarious, CNN reversed its decision to keep Trump off its airwaves. Not only that, CNN gave Trump an entire town hall primary-style Q&A session with an audience, free of charge. It’s the latest sign that CNN is desperate for cash, ratings, and relevance. We’ll get into that, why the southern border will matter in 2024, and which state is most important in the 2024 GOP primaries – links to follow.
- Several of you reached out in shock about the Bud Light sales numbers last week. Those numbers worsened this week. From Yahoo Finance: “Parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) sold $71.5 million worth of Bud Light in the week ending April 29, a 23% drop compared to a year ago, according to data from Bump Williams Consulting. Budweiser sales have hit $31.5 million so far this year, down roughly 11%, the firm said. Sales of other Anheuser-Busch brands — including Budweiser, Michelob Ultra, Busch Light, and Natural Light — have also taken a hit.”
- Stock analysts added: “The way this Bud Light crisis came about a month ago, management’s response to it and the loss of unprecedented volume and brand relevance raises many questions,” the analysts wrote. Citing Beer Marketer’s Insights, they said “the trend of declining beer volumes is worsening and may be down more than 25% in April,” while “US distributor relations appear to be at an all-time low … It is unclear how ABI will reverse eroding U.S. volume and brand relevance, and fix distributors’ trust, without leadership changes.”
- This is going down as the most expensive beer can ever made. It may end up costing the CEO his job and potentially more in the leadership structure.
Where you can find me this week
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[05/8/2023] McCarthy opens debt ceiling negotiations with upper-hand on Biden – Conservative Institute
[05/12/2023] Biden courts disaster with Title 42 gone – Conservative Institute
CNN hearts Trump, why the southern border will matter in 2024, and what state is more important in the primaries.
I don’t think two things in the universe need each other more than CNN and Donald Trump. Since 2015, CNN has tied its existence to Donald Trump. From gleefully covering his rallies live to hitting every possible Trumpian angle to a story, CNN believes Donald Trump is the way to survival.
It takes two to tango, though. And there’s nothing more that Donald Trump loves than a media network he can bow to his desires. Remember, Donald Trump got $2 billion in free media coverage in 2016. That’s more than just CNN; all news media companies profited from the “Trump bump.” For Trump, the equation is simple: the more people talk about him, the more suffocating it is for any challenger to beat him. Trump views attacks on him as a net positive because it gives him the “circle the wagons” effect for his base and Republicans at large.
Ben Shapiro got this right in his description of the CNN Townhall with Trump in New Hampshire, which occurred Wednesday night:
CNN did Trump a MASSIVE favor last night, and everybody knows it. Here’s why.
This town hall was billed as a Republican primary town hall, which means that presumably, Trump should have been asked about issues Republican voters care about. Like, say, Fauci and covid; criminal justice reform and Alice Johnson and crime; the border wall and illegal immigration. Etc.
Now let me present a partial list of the issues Republican voters DON’T care about:
E. Jean Carroll
Georgia election questions
National Archives documents
Alvin Bragg’s allegations
These are all Democrats’ top issues.
Collins asked zero of the questions Republicans cared about and all the ones Democrats cared about.
So, in other words, this was billed as a GOP primary night, and it was just Kaitlin Collins asking questions Democrats have about Trump.
Republican voters sensed this. So when Trump took out the kitchen sink and began hammering Collins into the wall with it, they cheered. Republicans will — ALWAYS AND CORRECTLY — cheer biased moderators being steamrolled by Republican candidates, no matter what those candidates actually say.
Trump wins more favor with Republican voters; Democrats remain off-put; independents continue to wonder why we’re relitigating 2020. Ridiculous failure by CNN on all fronts — unless, of course, their goal is to renominate Trump for the ratings and because they think he’s most beatable (NOTE: this, by the way, is precisely their goal).
I’ve written several columns about how the news media has entered a financial winter. In my latest on that topic, I described it as a Siberian winter now. Layoffs are everywhere in the media, BuzzFeed News is gone, and Vice News had to get bought out by George Soros’ investment fund to survive. Winter is far from ending for the press.
After all those years of “not platforming him,” CNN’s move to bring on Trump is purely about ratings, cash, and changing the perception of CNN among viewers. Also, after spending years chasing away any right-wing viewers, CNN is trying to woo them back and make a rating splash.
During an internal staff call, Licht told CNN employees he was aware of the backlash to Wednesday’s raucous 70-minute with Donald Trump. But he pointed out that the event made news, pinning Trump down on issues including Russia’s war in Ukraine, abortion, the Jan. 6, 2021 riots, and election results.
“There is so much that we learned last night about what a second Trump presidency would look like,” he said, saying the network held him accountable “in a way that no news organization has done literally in years.”
Licht added that “while we all may have been uncomfortable hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story because the people in that audience represent a large swath of America.”
“The mistake the media made in the past is ignoring that those people exist just like you cannot ignore that President Trump exists,” Licht said. “So the idea of doing so, I believe, is an overcorrection of the days when we gave him unfettered rally coverage and showed podiums.”
I don’t necessarily disagree with any of his points. They’re all accurate things to say. But it’s also easy to see the path forward that Licht is trying to take. During the Trump years, CNN became MSNBC-lite. Although CNN had always had a left-wing tilt, it was still perceived as middle of the road and kept an audience because of that.
Licht is now trying to rehabilitate the damage done to the CNN brand by his predecessor, Jeffrey Zucker (CNN CEO from 2013-2022). He’s trying to do that in an environment where fewer people are watching CNN, advertising revenue is in the dumps, and the media sector is in a recession. Here’s some simple economic math: if Disney, the company that can practically print cash, is laying off people because of a hostile media environment, how bad do you think it is for the CNNs of the world?
Similarly, Trump is trying to rehabilitate himself too. To date, the only real victory he has under his belt is in 2016. Republicans lost the House under his leadership in 2018, with the Senate staying close. In 2020, Trump lost while Republicans overperformed across the board. And in 2022, Democrats made the elections about Trump, he obliged, and Trump-aligned bad candidates lost winnable races.
Trump needs to get control of the media, and CNN is offering him that platform. Trump has to start attacking Ron DeSantis, who has a long record of winning challenging races and delivering strong conservative wins in a purple state. DeSantis leads or is near Trump in all the early primary states, which includes New Hampshire. Trump is starting in New Hampshire because he may need that state as his first win in 2024 if/when DeSantis wins Iowa.
With the Florida legislative session now wrapping up, DeSantis is free to start focusing on a Presidential run. May or June is the most likely time DeSantis will finally announce his bid for the White House. I’d expect something official in the next 3-6 weeks, but DeSantis is in no rush.
I keep seeing people pointing to the national polling lead for Trump over DeSantis, and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Barack Obama led Hilary Clinton in the national polls for zero days during 2007. He also won Iowa and defeated Clinton in the primaries. National polls don’t matter at this stage, a ton. They tell you the obvious: the incumbent has the lead.
Incumbent candidates have that advantage early on in the race. Donald Trump is the incumbent establishment candidate. It should shock zero people that the incumbent establishment candidate is leading the race when it starts. That’s the benefit of being the incumbent; you get this boost. Trump should lead in polls, fundraising, endorsements, and more.
What’s notable about Trump’s strategy is that he’s trying to end the race before it begins. His campaign has rolled out influencers, Congressional endorsements, and a litany of attacks against DeSantis. I get his strategy, but he’s also burning through a lot of gunpowder early in the race.
Burning the ground early on can work. Once Obama was sure Romney had the nomination in 2012, he blasted Mitt from all sides for the entirety of the summer of 2012 before Romney lifted a finger. Romney never recovered from the labels applied during that time. That was a focused, intentional attack, though. It’s unclear what Trump is trying to do other than defeat DeSantis by saying whatever crosses his mind.
The other striking aspect of the New Hampshire Townhall is that Trump didn’t control it. In the past, he directed the topic by forcing everyone to talk about what he wanted to cover. As Shapiro noted, Trump faced a field that only hit Democratic talking points. Similarly, Trump’s attacks on DeSantis are indistinguishable from standard Democratic attacks.
I expect Trump to pivot more to the right soon because an issue in his wheelhouse is shaping up. Starting on Friday, an issue that will explode and grow throughout the summer: the southern border. This will be a defining issue in the GOP primaries.
When the clock struck midnight and Friday arrived, Title 42 expired. Long story short, this was an order by the Trump administration that helped keep migrant flows down. Biden kept it in place because he didn’t have any better plans. Since Biden’s election, we’ve seen historic surges at the border, which are about to worsen.
News reports say 60,000 migrants are waiting to cross the border as Title 42 expires. The Biden administration claims they’re prepared for this and have 24,000 border patrol agents mobilized to control the situation. I sincerely doubt they’ll succeed, nor are they ready. This is a humanitarian crisis forming before our eyes.
Obviously, this plays into Trump’s wheelhouse. But recall, DeSantis sent migrants from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard. Those limousine liberals pretended they cared by getting food and supplies to those migrants and then promptly shipped those migrants out. Handshakes and back-pats all around while irony flew over their heads. Reports suggest that Florida, Texas, and other southern states continue this policy. NYC Mayor Eric Adams is looking at plans to bus migrants out of the city and into the surrounding suburbs, who are declaring “states of emergency.” Similar things are happening in other northern blue states.
Biden’s policy so far has been to ignore the southern border. He tasked it out to Kamala Harris, and everyone promptly realized nothing would happen. Democratic politicians are being forced to deal with migrants. And while Democratic charge their leaders with racism, they encourage the solutions like Martha’s Vineyard, where the migrants get bussed out of sight and mind.
It’s a level of hypocrisy that has yet to pop any echo chamber bubbles on the left.
All that said, we’re still waiting on DeSantis to officially announce, debates to get lined up, and see what issues and stories animate the race. Looking forward, I believe the GOP Primaries will get decided on February 24, 2024. Here’s the lineup:
- Iowa Caucuses – January 22, 2024
- New Hampshire primaries – January 30, 2024
- Nevada Primary – February 6, 2024
- South Carolina primary – February 24, 2024.
- Super Tuesday – March 5, 2024
Right now, I expect DeSantis to take Iowa and Trump to rebound in New Hampshire. Nevada will set the stage as everyone prepares for South Carolina. If Trump wins Iowa and New Hampshire, the race is over right there. Given the state of polls right now and what I expect to be DeSantis having the better Iowa team, I’m expecting a split.
Put another way, the earliest date Trump can declare total victory is January 30, if he sweeps the first two states. I don’t think the same is true of DeSantis, although he’d be heavily favored if he swept Iowa and NH. If they split, the most likely scenario to me, then we go to the most important state in Presidential Primaries currently: South Carolina.
In 2016, South Carolina was when I knew Trump had essentially won without Ted Cruz dropping out. South Carolina is important for both Democrats and Republicans for different reasons. For Democrats, South Carolina’s Black voters handed Joe Biden the nomination because they signaled that none of the other candidates would win in the South. That’s why Buttigieg and others dropped out quickly after Biden scored his first victory in 2020.
You cannot win a Democratic primary without the support of Black voters. Ask Bernie Sanders what the youth vote combined with the white-working-class vote gets you in a Democratic primary.
For Republicans, South Carolina has a deep reservoir of evangelical voters. In 2016, Trump won over evangelicals in South Carolina, taking Ted Cruz’s base from him. Once one group of evangelicals signaled they were shifting to Trump, that opened the door for everyone else. Ted Cruz had no path forward after South Carolina, yet stayed in because his campaign wanted everyone to drop out to make it a one-on-one matchup against Trump. Cruz made this pitch with no base. Everyone else understood the math, Cruz was too arrogant to see it.
There’s a moonshot alternate version of 2016 where Cruz and Kasich drop out, giving Rubio air. But by that point, Trump had consolidated his base plus evangelicals, effectively blocking out anyone else from a larger plurality. It’s hard to see any scenario where any of those Republicans outflanks Trump after South Carolina.
Theoretically, we should start with a pre-narrowed field heading into Iowa. Nicki Haley may try to stay in through South Carolina, her home state. But that will be a hard push if she can’t get any momentum.
South Carolina is the critical swing state. Whoever wins it likely takes the nomination because that momentum will carry into Super Tuesday. South Carolina evangelicals will signal other evangelicals on which direction to go.
Links of the week
Biden’s Chinese financial dealings are a counterintelligence nightmare – John Schindler, Washington Examiner
Suddenly, a Biden-Trump rematch doesn’t seem so inevitable – Bernard Goldberg, The Hill
Two high-profile Iowa Republicans endorse Ron DeSantis in 2024 Iowa caucuses – Brianne Pfannenstiel, Des Moines Register
Media’s blind eye to Joepin-&-shut case in Biden corruption allegations – Michael Goodwin, NYPost
Deep State can’t cover for scale of Biden corruption – Miranda Devine, NYPost
The War on the American Worker: An Excerpt from “Hell to Pay: How the Suppression of Wages Is Destroying America” – Michael Lind, RealClearBooks
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
US Media Learn Lessons From Previous Elections, Give Trump 2 Hours Of Prime Time TV – Waterford Whispers News
Thanks for reading!