The GOP establishment is scrambling for the lifeboats as Donald Trump’s campaign fails to engage in any meaningful corrective action following the release of a 2005 audio recording of the real estate magnate bragging about sexually assaulting women. The tape, alongside a stream of women coming forward to offer their own accounts of the GOP nominee’s unwanted sexual advances, has even led two “big money donors,” according to NBC News, to send emails asking for their money back. But Trump’s biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson, is moving full-steam ahead, writing big checks and mobilizing newspapers owned by his family to support Trump, even as the candidate careens toward a massive electoral defeat.
On September 12, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, each wrote $2.5 million checks to Future45, a pro-Trump super PAC, according to FEC filings. Eleven days later, the couple both made another set of $2.5 million donations, bringing the couples funding of the super PAC up to $10 million.
As news of the tape broke on October 7, journalists sought comment from the Adelsons but the couple kept their silence. Indeed, the Adelsons’ support came about as the candidate abandoned a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in favor of Sheldon Adelson’s position of a “binational state,” as one Trump aide told supporters.
Trump’s demeaning statements about women and the airing of sexual assault allegations against the GOP nominee have had little impact on the Adelsons’ decision to throw their money behind his candidacy. In fact, newspapers owned by the Adelsons are actively pushing back against the women’s claims and seeking to frame Trump, despite dismal poll numbers, as a competitive candidate in the final weeks of the campaign.
Israel Hayom, the pro-Likud Israeli newspaper owned by Adelson’s family, attempted positive spin with the headline: “Trump scandals have minimal effect on his campaign, poll shows.”
The October 16 article, bylined by “Israel Hayom Staff,” claimed that “Trump has suffered minimal damage from the wave of scandals involving his treatment of women,” and focused exclusively on a Washington Post/ABC poll published on Sunday that showed Clinton holding a four-point lead over Trump. That was one of the most positive polls for Trump. Monday’s RealClearPolitics’ average of polls finds Clinton with a 6.4% lead.
Perhaps even more misleading was an Israel Hayom Sunday column by Boaz Bismuth that repeated Trump’s campaign rally rhetoric about a media conspiracy to destroy Trump’s candidacy and sinister secrets being withheld about Hillary Clinton. He wrote:
However, on Nov. 8, there will actually be a U.S. election featuring two candidates, one of them Trump, and the other, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who, according to reports, also has skeletons in her closet (perhaps even an entire cemetery, according to WikiLeaks.) But her problems, it seems, should be hidden. There is an ongoing concerted effort among American media outlets today to take down Trump.
Bismuth also sought to cast suspicions on the women’s claims based on the timing. He wrote:
Trump’s major problem is, of course, the fact that the claims from women are surfacing now, immediately following the release of the tape from 11 years ago. The timing is perfect, even if Clinton’s supporters claim that it is entirely coincidental.
Stateside, the Las Vegas Review Journal, which Adelson bought last year and sought to conceal his ownership, rushed to Trump’s defense in an October 10 editorial. The Review Journal’s editorial board argued that it was hypocritical of Hillary Clinton to even mention Trump’s audio recording in light of Bill Clinton’s checkered past with women. They wrote:
Do not mistake: Donald Trump deserves the harsh condemnation he has endured in response to the video released days ago on which he is heard bragging about how his wealth enables him to take sexual advantage of women. Voters can judge the issue for themselves. But it’s also worth noting that if every private comment is to be resurrected for public scrutiny, no human can ever be safe from the preening mob’s hollow shame and scorn.
And for Hillary Clinton to even broach the subject is the height of hypocrisy, arrogance and deceit.
Three days later, the paper published another editorial, this one attempting to shift the focus away from the recording of Trump bragging about groping women and towards WikiLeaks’ disclosures of Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta’s, hacked emails. The editorial concluded:
How do we know where Hillary Clinton’s private positions end and where her public positions begin? Given her penchant for prevarication, what should voters believe? What “private” positions will she eagerly jettison to curry favor with special interests? What “public” positions does she have no intention of honoring and are simply voter chum designed to attract support?
It all comes back to the same issue: Can anybody believe anything Hillary Clinton says about anything?
Against the Current
The Review Journal’s steady flow of pro-Trump editorials wouldn’t be so unusual if other major regional newspapers supported Trump’s presidential campaign. But they aren’t. USA Today, which never endorses candidates in the presidential race, declared Trump “unfit for the presidency,” and the Dallas Morning News, which hasn’t endorsed a Democrat for the presidency since before World War II, endorsed Clinton, saying “There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.”
Adelson’s media properties—alongside Breitbart, which is partially owned by the Trump-supporting Mercer family—appear increasingly out of step with public opinion and are falling back on conspiracy theories about the Clintons. They are also dredging up decades-old sex scandals about Hillary Clinton’s husband and selective interpretations of polls to frame Trump as a desirable, or even competitive, candidate.
The Mercers and the Adelson are putting more than their millions behind Trump. They’re increasingly responsible for the only positive media attention for the Trump campaign as the election draws to a close and the candidate’s serial mistreatment of women sends his poll numbers into a death spiral.