Why the pro-Trump internet is upset with President Trump

A day before Donald Trump’s inauguration, members of the right-wing internet bloc that helped elect him threw a celebratory bash in Washington, D.C.: The “DeploraBall.” The internet-savvy attendees were jubilant, believing they had had “memed” Trump into the White House.

But one year later, it seems the DeploraBall crowd misunderstood who they were there for: President Trump is obsessed with conventional media outlets like the New York Times and Fox News, not his digital champions like Mike Cernovich, Milo Yiannopoulos and James O’Keefe.

“You get better updates about ‘Fox and Friends’ from President’s Twitter feed than from the Fox News Twitter feed, which is — think about that for a second,” CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka.

On the new podcast, Darcy and BuzzFeed senior tech reporter Charlie Warzel — both of whom cover the right-wing internet for work — said the online “pro-Trump media” has been sidelined.

“Now they’re not adding anything new and the President is primarily watching Fox,” Darcy said. “That’s not to say the other guys are unimportant because a lot of Fox stuff does come from them, but … the pro-Trump Twitter feed, I used to see a direct channel from that to the president. Less of it is happening. I haven’t seen the last time Cernovich got something from his Twitter feed to Fox.”

This week, we put together a special two-in-one show about the media’s relationship with Trump: In the first half, Kafka interviews NYU professor Jay Rosen; it’s in the second half, starting at around the 45-minute mark, that he talks to Darcy and Warzel. You can listen to Recode Media on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcastor wherever you listen to podcasts.

Warzel said the disconnect between the “Trump media” and the mainstream media is clearly seen in who is close to Trump now — and who has been exiled.

The revolving door of the White House has kicked out some of the people who the pro-Trump Twitter groups had as sources,” he said, pointing to Steve Bannon, Seb Gorka and many members of the national security council. “Having spoken to some of the pro-Trump internet folks, there’s a bit of a disappointment in Trump. There was a long trial period of, ‘Okay, we’re going to see what this guy’s going to do.’”

“It didn’t happen,” Warzel added. “He’s a very standard — he’s letting a Republican Congress dictate what the legislation’s going to be, and it’s like, ‘Oh, this is kind of boring. This is kind of establishment.’ [He’s not] interested in them. He’s not saying, ‘Great Breitbart story!’ He’s interested in the establishment conservative media mothership.”

Warzel disclaimed that some of what he has been told might be “full of crap,” but that the online discussions have begun trending towards other political figures who might better represent them than Trump has.

“There’s this, ‘We’re looking at 2018, we’re looking at the midterms, we’re also looking at who’s after Trump. Who’s really our guy?’” Warzel said. “Who’s the guy who’s in the chatrooms?”

“I think they’re looking for somebody who is of the internet, of their world, who’s gonna be a real player for them in Congress or the White House someday, and be their actual champion — rather than Trump, who talked the talk but hasn’t walked the walk,” he added.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcastor wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code ConferenceCode Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!