NY Times columnist admits he was ‘wrong’ about Trump supporters, says Russian collusion story was a ‘hoax’

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The New York Times published a series of opinion pieces from its opinion columnists on Thursday that began with the phrase “I was wrong.” As part of the collection, Bret Stephens admitted he was wrong to call Trump supporters “appalling”.

Stephens said, “The worst line I’ve ever written as an expert” was the first he ever wrote about Trump: “If now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you are appalling.”

“This opening salvo, from August 2015, was the first of what would become dozens of columns denouncing Trump as a unique threat to American life, Democratic ideals, and the world itself,” he said. he continued.

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to supporters after speaking at a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to supporters after speaking at a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Stephens said he “regrets[s] almost nothing I said about the man and his close henchmen” but that “the broad swipe at his constituents caricatured them and put blinders on me”.

“It also probably helped more than hindered Trump’s candidacy. Telling voters they are moral ignoramuses is a bad way to get them to change their minds,” he continued. “What did they see that I wasn’t?” he reflected.

“What Trump supporters saw was a candidate whose whole being was a middle finger proudly held up to a self-satisfied elite who had produced a failing status quo,” he claimed.

“I was blind to that,” Stephens admitted. “I belonged to a social class that my friend Peggy Noonan called ‘the proteges,'” he said and acknowledged his own financial luxuries.

President Trump at a rally in Mississippi in 2018.

President Trump at a rally in Mississippi in 2018.
(AP)

“Trump’s appeal, according to Noonan, was largely for people she called ‘the unprotected’. Their neighborhoods weren’t that safe and pleasant. Their schools weren’t that great. livelihoods weren’t so secure,” he wrote. “Their experience of America has often been marked by cultural and economic decline, sometimes felt in the most personal way.”

It was an experience compounded by the insult of being treated like losers and racists – clinging, in Obama’s notorious phrase in 2008, to “guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren’t like them,'” Stephens wrote.

“No wonder they’re angry.”

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Stephens admitted that the anger of Trump supporters was not “unfounded or illegitimate” or “aiming at the wrong target”.

“Trump voters had a powerful argument to make that they had been betrayed three times by the nation’s elites,” Stephens conceded. “First, after 9/11, when they had borne much of the brunt of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to see Washington fumble and then abandon efforts,” he wrote.

President Donald Trump speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Florida.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during his re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando, Florida. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“Secondly, after the financial crisis of 2008, when so many people were laid off even as the financial class was bailed out,” he continued. “Third, in the post-crisis recovery, in which years of ultra-low interest rates were a boon for those with investable assets and brutal for those without.”

Stephens also cited “the great American cultural revolution” that happened in the 2010s in which “traditional practices and beliefs” changed.

“It is one thing that social mores evolve over time, aided by respect for differences of opinion. It is quite another that they are brutally imposed from one side to the other, with little democratic input but a lot of moral bullying,” Stephens noted.

Stephens also admitted that the narrative of Russian collusion – “the Steele dossier and all the false allegations, gullibly reproduced in the mainstream media, that flowed from it” – that tainted Trump’s presidency was an “elaborate hoax” and that ‘”there is simply no other word for it”.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the crowd during a campaign rally, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Cincinnati.  (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the crowd during a campaign rally, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Despite this revelation, Stephens argued that he wouldn’t be “morally” wrong to “challenge Trump running supporters, those who want him back in the White House despite his refusal to accept his electoral defeat and the historic outrage of January 6.”

However, Stephens admitted that such bashing would amount to bad politics.

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RealClearPolitics’ average shows Trump beating Biden in a 2024 rematch by 2.5% and leading the field of potential GOP nominees by 32.3%.

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