Donald Trump's Muslim ban plan has its conservative media defenders

Several Republican presidential candidates and party leaders have condemned Donald Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States, but the reaction within conservative media has been mixed.

Some commentators have denounced Trump's idea, while others have offered at least a partial defense.

Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire includes conservative bastions like Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, was among those who somewhat endorsed the proposal.

"Has Trump gone too far? Regardless, public is obsessed on radical Muslim dangers," Murdoch tweeted on Tuesday. "Complete refugee pause to fix vetting makes sense."

For Rush Limbaugh, Trump's proposal for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the country -- a plan that has been called both unconstitutional and fascist -- amounted to savvy politics.

Limbaugh opened his top-rated radio show on Tuesday by applauding Trump's ability to play the media "like a Stradavarius."

"He says things that he knows will drive [the media] crazy," Limbaugh said. "He says things over and over that he knows will drive them insane."

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Limbaugh said that Trump has managed to distinguish himself in a 2016 field that all "sounds the same."

"They're condemning Donald Trump," Limbaugh said of candidates like Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina. "Donald Trump is condemning ISIS."

Limbaugh argued that Trump's supporters recognize that the "outrageous" comments, such as the call to ban Muslims, are all a part of the candidate's strategy.

"He knows that his audience is in on what he is doing," he said.

"It's strategery...The point is that all of this bombast and all of this outrageousness is owning the media. It's shaping the media every day," Limbaugh said.

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Conservative blogger Erick Erickson said that although he disagreed with Trump's proposal, it was still a "smart play." Erickson, a Fox News contributor who disinvited Trump to his conservative confab over the summer, shared Limbaugh's criticism of the Republicans who quickly rebuked the idea.

"The rush to condemn Donald Trump feels more like a 'finally we can take him out' surge than a serious consideration of his proposal," Erickson wrote. "You may very well find his proposal unserious, but there are a few million Americans who do not."

Laura Ingraham, a fellow Fox News contributor, said that Trump will "have to change his formulation and the way he said it." But she predicted that Trump won't suffer politically.

"Anyone who thinks [Trump's] comments will hurt him don't know the temperature of the American ppl," Ingraham said Monday on Twitter.

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Limbaugh, Erickson and Ingraham -- all hosts of popular conservative radio shows -- were far more charitable than the staff of the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine that boasts an influential audience inside the Beltway.

Bill Kristol, the magazine's editor who has been no friend to Trump throughout the campaign, said he disagreed with Erickson and Ingraham.

"Anyone who think (sic) comments of [Trump] won't hurt him has no confidence in the American people," Kristol tweeted. Stephen Hayes, a senior writer for the Weekly Standard and a Fox News contributor, said that anyone surprised by Trump's proposal hasn't "been paying attention."

"If it pleases you," Hayes said of the proposal, "you're a bigot."

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Most of the Republican presidential hopefuls who spoke out on the proposed ban were unequivocal in their denunciations.

The most tepid response came from Ted Cruz, who said he disagreed with the ban, but declined to criticize Trump. Other GOP leaders, like House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Vice President Dick Cheney, denounced Trump's proposal.

The most positive response to the ban came from Ann Coulter, the incendiary conservative author who has been Trump's most outspoken media cheerleader.

Responding to the proposal Monday on Twitter, Coulter said: "GO TRUMP, GO!"

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Bill Kristol was among right-wing pundits who supported Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country.

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