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Cockburn Conservatism Media

National Review: for Trump in 2020?

The ‘menace to American conservatism’ recommends NR articles to the press corps

April 21, 2020

4:05 PM

21 April 2020

4:05 PM

Does President Trump have a new favorite magazine?

At yesterday’s Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Trump took a bit of time to educate the press corps on what they should be reading: National Review articles:

‘A story that just came out…“How the Media Completely Blew the Trump Ventilator Story”, I’m sure you love to see that. That’s by Rich Lowry, respected journalist and person. “How the Media Completely Blew the Trump Ventilator Story”, which, unfortunately, you did. And here’s another one that just came out. Kyle Smith, “The Ventilator Shortage That Wasn’t”. “The Ventilator Shortage That Wasn’t”…because we got it fixed…and we’re also gonna help the states, by the way, stockpile ventilators, so if a thing like this should happen again, they’ve got ’em.’

A lot can change in four years. Cockburn casts his mind back to the heady days of January 2016, when NR staunchly declared themselves ‘Against Trump’ in a bold cover. The conclusion of that issue’s editorial was particularly fiery:

‘Some conservatives have made it their business to make excuses for Trump and duly get pats on the head from him. Count us out. Donald Trump is a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as the Donald himself.’


Strong stuff. You might imagine, therefore, that National Review‘s editor-in-chief and critic-at-large would be horrified to be cited approvingly by the Donald. You’d be wrong.

Cockburn appreciates the intelligently bogus detached tone of those tweets. He remembers the editor of this magazine trying to sound similarly unfazed when the 45th president tweeted a Spectator piece many moons ago.

But it is a strange turn of events to see Trump and NR stroking each other’s feathers. Has William F. Buckley’s magazine finally embraced the vulgar Trump it once shunned? Will Rich Lowry run a ‘For Trump’ 2020 cover?

Trump has softened, certainly: after the ‘Against Trump’ issue, he unleashed a tweetstorm disavowing National Review as a ‘failing publication‘ that ‘very few people read‘, which was ‘dying‘ ‘fast‘. ‘The late, great, William F. Buckley would be ashamed of what had happened to his prize, the dying National Review!’, he wrote.

He was particularly against NR when ‘dumb as a rock‘ Jonah Goldberg, now of the Dispatch, was still there. Trump thought Goldberg was doing a ‘really pathetic job‘ and encouraged the magazine to ‘get some real talent or fold‘.

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Maybe Candidate Trump really did care what the legendary conservative magazine of him: ‘Really important to save National Review from going out of business,’ he tweeted in April 2015. ‘We need a true conservative voice!’

In the five years since, the magazine hasn’t folded and Trump has become (and remains) president. It warms Cockburn’s heart to see bygones being bygones.


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