Why the Trump campaign is complaining so much about NBC’s Savannah Guthrie

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Town hall moderator Savannah Guthrie is the target of a conservative firestorm now. | AP/Evan Vucci

The Trump campaign and allies are now “working the refs” after the president’s brutal town hall.

Some 28 years ago, then-Republican National Committee chair Rich Bond explained to a group of Washington Post reporters why he and the Bush-Quayle 1992 campaign complained so much about the press. Some of it was sincere frustration, “But there is some strategy to it,” Bond said. “I’m a coach of kids’ basketball and Little League teams. If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs.’ Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.”

Working the refs — that is, yelling at the media so they give you a pass next time for fear of looking biased, or sparking another outraged reaction — is not solely a tool of the right. But it’s especially effective on the right, given that reporters really do tend to be more liberal than the general population in their own personal politics.

And ref-working was in full force on Thursday night after NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie conducted perhaps the toughest interview to date with President…


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