WASHINGTON -- I cannot recall another time when American media have given so much aid and encouragement to a fledgling candidate as they have given to Donald Trump, and he is a billionaire. He does not need their help.
A couple of weeks ago, he was scrambling within a tight pack of Republican also-rans. Now, thanks to the media's almost ceaseless coverage, he is near the top of the Republican heap. In some polls, he is atop the heap. The fact that the media were endeavoring to ambush his candidacy should tell you quite a lot about the media's own ineptitude in politics and about Trump's cunning.
Trump, in his characteristically discursive campaign announcement, spoke across a whole range of issues, and the media pounced on the one issue that would make him a hero to millions. The media were thinking they would render him a pariah or, in their words, a racist. Who knows the public better: the floundering media or the accomplished billionaire?
Trump made a perfectly unexceptional statement, at least for him, about illegal immigrants in his June 16th statement, and the hysterics in the press corps lurched forward misquoting him, characterizing his remark as inflammatory, and, of course, calling him a racist -- though the people he was inveighing against are, if their pictures do not lie, practically as white as Trump.
Hesto presto, Trump has become the most talked-about Republican in the race. Hillary Clinton, if she is going to keep up with him, will have to ensnare herself in even trickier scandals. Perhaps she will attempt even riskier whoppers. Her lie -- or as she would say misstatement -- to CNN about not receiving a subpoena last March from Congressman Trey Gowdy's committee did nothing to enhance her notoriety.
At this point in the race, Trump has proved he is not the political neophyte Washington insiders thought him to be. He seems to be converting his skill for understanding markets to a skill for identifying and winning over key constituencies. On illegal immigration, he picked a choice issue, and look what the media did for him. He now has equaled Clinton in name recognition, and he has accomplished this without breaking the law -- no hidden emails, no secret servers.
What exactly did Trump say on June 16th? He said: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best (ergo, Trump thinks Mexico has better people). They're not sending you (pointing to his audience). They're not sending you (pointing again). They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems to us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
Later, in an attempt to clarify his statement and quiet the hysterical media, he wrote: "Many fabulous people come in from Mexico, and our country is better for it. But these people are here legally and are severely hurt by those coming in illegally."
Since the media began trying to make an emotional controversy over what is obviously not very controversial -- who doubts that illegal immigrants commit crime? -- the evidence has been pouring in that Trump is right. There are among the illegal immigrants an awful lot of dreadful criminals. Almost immediately after Trump spoke, a tragic example made headlines. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times and committed seven felonies, shot Kathryn Steinle in the back as she and her father were sightseeing in San Francisco -- incidentally, a "sanctuary" city.
Subsequent news stories appeared attesting to the accuracy of Trump's warnings against illegal immigrants committing other acts of violence. When he appeared in Los Angeles a few days later, he held a sad press conference with families who had lost loved ones to the random violence of illegal immigrants. None was sadder than the father of fallen football star Jamiel Shaw Jr., who was gunned down by a gang member who mistook the young black man for a rival gang member. His death went unnoticed until Trump heard about it. Jamiel's father pronounced Trump "a breath of fresh air."
Tim Graham of the Media Research Center writes that the Border Patrol has reported 40 cases of sex abuse by illegal immigrants this year alone. Most of the victims are children and minors. On July 2, the Border Patrol seized almost $3.5 million of marijuana, and this news, too, only comes from the Border Patrol. Other law enforcement agencies nationwide report a vast array of crimes being committed every day by illegal immigrants, from murder to burglary to hit-and-run accidents. Yet from the media's outcry, you would think it was all Trump's fault.
The fact is, the media picked from a buffet offering of issues that Trump presented to them on June 16. Others were there awaiting their attention. If the press does not mention them, you can be sure Trump will. He has an uncanny sense for what the voters want.