Donald Trump’s War On Truth Is A Threat To Our Democracy
President Donald Trump has a notoriously horrible relationship with the truth. Whether he’s touting imaginary inaugural crowds or peddling conspiracy theories about massive voter fraud, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to believe any word that comes out of the White House. And this week, it didn’t get any easier.
Our president decided to start his morning off on Tuesday with two blatant lies:
I don't know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy – yet Obama can make a deal with Iran, #1 in terror, no problem!
“I don’t know Putin”
Here are transcripts of Trump bragging about his relationship with Putin, and here is video proof:
“Have no deals in Russia”
Donald Trump Jr. admitted to the Trump organization’s dealings with Russia:
In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said Trump’s businesses “see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
“And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble,” he said.
The lying didn’t stop there. Later on in the day, Trump met with 3,000 sheriffs and repeated his false claim that “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” Trump then said people weren’t aware of this because “the press doesn’t tell it like it is.”
This is also a blatant lie. As The Washington Post notes:
The country’s murder rate is not the highest it’s been in 47 years. It is almost at its lowest point, actually, according to the FBI, which gathers statistics every year from police departments around the country.
This day of lies comes after Kellyanne Conway cited the “Bowling Green Massacre” in an interview with Chris Matthews to defend Trump’s Muslim immigration ban. The problem is, that attack never happened. In an effort to defend herself, Kellyanne later claimed she “misspoke one word.” That defense was almost immediately disproven, as it was revealed that she cited the same fake terrorist attack in an interview with both Cosmopolitan and TMZ…in the same day. Seems more like a deliberate lie than a minor misstatement.
This is nothing new. We’ve grown to expect this from the Trump administration. But why tell should easily disprovable lies?
Speaking to the U.S. Central Command on Monday, President Trump went off his prepared remarks to make a truly stunning claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks.
“You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening,” he said to the assembled military leaders. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”
This is much different than Trump’s usual attacks. Normally, his attacks are centered around the media’s negative coverage of him personally. This attack, makes the accusation that the media is deliberately avoiding the coverage of terrorist attacks for some insidious reason. It almost paints the press as anti-American.
After these remarks, The White House released a list of 78 terrorist attacks. The list, which oddly omitted terrorist attacks committed by non-Muslims, was picked apart by the media. The New York Times and CBS News presented their coverage, revealing that they did indeed cover most of the attacks on the list.
At times, this can all be very disorienting. We have a president that doesn’t make his decisions based on a commonly agreed upon set of facts, and continuously leads his followers down that same path. It’s as if President Trump isn’t capable of being straightforward and he just impulsively spews out whatever comes to mind. It’s important to try and make sense of it all. Perhaps there’s a method to the madness.
I don’t believe the Trump administration’s compulsive lying and attacks on the media are mutually exclusive. And I don’t think its all just some tactic to distract as many believe. It all appears to be part of a broader war on truth being carried out by Trump and his allies.
Trump understands that his biggest source of leverage with the GOP establishment is his loyal base of support. By discrediting the media in the eyes of his supporters, he’s able to create his own reality where everything is going well. And by spouting lies that his supporters believe, he is able to split the usual paradigm where there is a commonly agreed upon set of facts by the majority of Americans.
With this tactic of discrediting the media and spreading disinformation, Trump is able to keep his followers in an almost blind state of support. Now, when a Trump supporter sees an article they don’t like or disagree with, even if it isn’t an opinion piece and based solely on facts and credible sources, they holler “FAKE NEWS!” This leads to even higher levels of division and disorientation among the population. Trump’s tactics appear to be working across party lines.
- 49% of voters considered the Trump Administration truthful, to 48% of voters who consider it untruthful
- The news media is considered untruthful by a 53%-majority of registered voters, to only 39% who find them truthful
- “The partisan split on this topic is clear — 89% of Republicans find the Trump administration truthful, versus 77% of Democrats who find the administration untruthful. Conversely, 69% of Democrats find the news media truthful, while a whopping 91% of Republicans consider them untruthful.”
Trump is successfully dividing the country with his obsessive spread of disinformation while simultaneously corroding the people’s trust in the media.
I don’t have to tell you the damage this can do to our democracy. This lack of belief in fact lead to the wrong people being voted into public office. And once they get there, major forms of corruption can go unchecked if half the country is blinded from it through their various lenses and echo chambers (Breitbart, Fox News, etc).
When one side of the political spectrum doesn’t “believe” in something that is based on a 97% scientific consensus like man-made climate change, can find a way to look at an inaugural crowd and claim there are millions of people there, and can say with confidence in their voice that 3 million people voted illegally with absolutely no evidence, what’s next? Will we one day be debating whether or not the sun rises in the east?
While this divisiveness and confusion continues, this allows Trump to carry out his agenda that, in many cases, hits his working class supporters the hardest. Meanwhile, his most loyal fans continue chanting “Trump!”
All we can really do to try and combat this in our day-to-day lives is try and speak to and understand people from different viewpoints and spread truth as far and wide as we possibly can.