Democrats have giddily circulated their own research indicating that Barnette is leading the field in the Senate race by about 10 percentage points, but that survey was conducted before Trump issued a statement reiterating his support for Oz and suggesting that Barnette’s past had not been thoroughly examined.
Much of that scrutiny is taking place within the conservative media, fueled in some instances by allies of McCormick and Oz, who have been promoting hastily assembled opposition research about Barnette in recent days.
During Thursday night’s program, Hannity singled out Barnette’s history of offensive tweets, including Islamophobic and homophobic ones, and said she could not win a general election. Oz, who is of Turkish descent, is a nonpracticing Muslim.
Hannity later wrote a series of tweets aimed directly at Barnette, beginning with: “As you know my staff has reached out to you repeatedly in the last 48 hours, it’s great to FINALLY get a response from you. Why have you been ignoring their calls and texts?”
Articles in the conservative news media have zeroed in on aspects of Barnette’s biography. Salena Zito, a Pennsylvania-based columnist for The Washington Examiner, raised questions about Barnette’s military service record; The Free Beacon’s Chuck Ross wrote about how Barnette’s campaign manager hung up the phone on him when he grilled her on the subject.
Mike Mikus, a veteran Democratic consultant based near Pittsburgh, said the ferment among conservative news outlets reflected the fact that to win a modern Republican primary, “You don’t need the traditional press.”
For instance, the campaign of Doug Mastriano, a leading Republican contender for governor of Pennsylvania, rarely responds to queries from mainstream news organizations, and has barred journalists working for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the state’s most influential source of political news and commentary, from its events.