This appears to confirm, as I have argued, that Trump remains trapped in the mental universe he inhabited during the primaries. That was a place where the size of his crowds at rallies actually did portend victories over less colorful and entertaining opponents who failed to create a mystique to rival his. It was a place where he really could win through sheer media dominance alone, because the bigotry, xenophobia, and all around depravity and wretchedness that drove that dominance — and with it, the name recognition that allowed him to blot out his rivals — did not alienate large numbers of Republican voters in the manner he is currently repulsing key general election constituencies. Trump now appears determined to prove that the same formula — which basically constitutes whipping up white backlash through rousing rallies and a continued emphasis on ethno-nationalism (leavened a bit by pretend minority outreach gestures) — can work in the general.
One other explanation for Trump’s latest moves comes courtesy of CNN’s Brian Stelter, who suggested this morning that Trump may be positioning himself to launch a new media enterprise after a November loss. Bannon and former Fox exec Roger Ailes (who is also advising Trump), Stelter noted, would be just the team for Trump to do that.