Mr. DeSantis’s office closely coordinated with Fox producers to create flattering segments, according to emails obtained by The Tampa Bay Times. His achievements in Florida — especially his handling of Covid — were heralded as heroic acts of governance in the face of leftist opposition. Fox programming centered on themes and villains that Mr. DeSantis had built his brand on fighting: transgender athletes, Dr. Anthony Fauci and all things “woke.”
But after Mr. Trump’s first indictment, the priorities of the conservative movement and its media ecosystem shifted.Influential conservative talk radio hosts rallied behind Mr. Trump. Even commentators who liked Mr. DeSantis, such as Mark Levin, took on the indictments as a personal mission that seemed to override other priorities. Another right-wing personality, Glenn Beck, who used to warn about the dangers of Mr. Trump, went on Tucker Carlson’s now-canceled show on Fox, put on a MAGA hat and declared that “the America that we knew, the fundamental transformation that started in 2008, is finished.”
But when Mr. Trump announced he was running for president on Nov. 15, top officials at the Republican National Committee knew they needed to stop pumping out the Trump emails. They wanted to avoid giving the appearance that they were playing favorites in the G.O.P. primary and therefore risk compromising their official neutrality. An analysis of the past 10 months of fund-raising emails from an online archive shows that between Mr. Trump’s announcement on Nov. 15 and late March the R.N.C. sent only one email that mentioned Mr. Trump in its subject line.
But on March 29, when rumors were swirling that the former president would soon be indicted in Manhattan, the R.N.C. ended its moratorium.
That first indictment poured rocket fuel into Mr. Trump’s online fund-raising machine. Mr. Trump had been averaging $129,000 raised per day in 2023 until that point, according to federal records. In the next three weeks he averaged more than $778,000 per day.
And the grassroots moved.
More than half of Republicans — including 77 percent of self-identified MAGA Republicans — said the indictments and investigations against Mr. Trump were an attack on people like them, according to a CBS News/YouGov poll taken soon after the most recent indictment. And 86 percent of Republicans felt the indictments were an attempt to stop Mr. Trump from campaigning.