- Conservative media blamed various factors for Ed Gillespie’s loss to Ralph Northam in Virginia’s gubernatorial election on Tuesday.
- The right debated whether Gillespie lost because he failed to embrace President Donald Trump enough.
- Their conclusion echoed Trump’s own assessment.
Conservative media deflected, dismissed, and ignored Democratic electoral gains on Tuesday.
Almost immediately following Democratic Ralph Northam’s win over GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie in Virginia, Republicans began pointing fingers at different factions of the party for his loss.
Among conservative pundits and news organisations, many of President Donald Trump’s backers blamed Gillespie for failing to adequately embrace the president and his agenda.
Right-leaning outlet Breitbart News immediately threw Gillespie under the bus, dubbing him a “Republican swamp thing,” with senior editor Joel B. Pollak saying, “The main reason the GOP cannot unite to fulfil their past promises is because of jittery moderate incumbents in blue states and a few swing districts.”
“Most of the blame sits with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,” Pollak wrote. “But the buck stops with Trump. It falls to him to find a way to fulfil core legislative priorities on health care, immigration, and taxes without losing too many moderates or alienating his base.”
Some right-wing media figures online who have gained prominence by vociferously backing Trump echoed the president’s claim that Gillespie didn’t run a sufficiently right-wing populist campaign, saying Gillespie didn’t cosy up to Trump enough.
Other conservatives chose to largely ignore the results.
Though election coverage led Fox News online, the races did not dominate Fox’s evening lineup.
Almost immediately after calling the race for Northam, Fox News host Tucker Carlson argued that it was “hard to see Ed Gilespie as a Trump candidate,” and argued that the race was “heavily financed by outside spending.” But he soon moved onto other popular topics, including perceived liberal bias in the media, and the 2016 election.
Others barely mentioned the election: Host Laura Ingraham didn’t seriously mention the news until 10 minutes before the end of her show, arguing that Gillespie lost because of his failure to run on Trump’s agenda.
“Trying to be half in, half out with Donald Trump was never going to work,” Ingraham said.
Top Trump ally and occasional informal adviser Sean Hannity dedicated almost his entire show to Trump’s speech in South Korea.
“Those results in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, by the way — not states Donald Trump won,” Hannity said at the top of his show, before focusing on Trump’s speech.
Their reactions echoed Trump’s own assessment, who tweeted from South Korea after the election was called for Northam that, “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for.”
Democrats, meanwhile, celebrated the election win in the Virginia gubernatorial races as a bellwether of opposition to Trump and his agenda.
Trump received 700,000 more votes than Ed Gillespie. If Ed had reached out to those voters he would have won. Instead, he stood for nothing and folded like a cheap suit
— Jack Posobiec ???????? (@JackPosobiec) November 8, 2017
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