Being silenced by the White House must have been devastating. We are left to wonder if, deprived of video contact with Mika Brzezinski and Jake Tapper, Kellyanne suffered clinical symptoms of withdrawal.
Presidential historians and veteran Washington correspondents say President Donald Trump’s first month in office — which has been marred by numerous scandals and vicious attacks on the press — is more “chaotic” and “bizarre” than any administration’s first month in history.
In a tongue-in-cheek article published Sunday, a Swedish newspaper ran through a series of the worst problems it could find Friday in the country. More serious stories cited by the article, now published in English on the paper’s website, included a man dying in hospital after a workplace accident, and police chasing a suspect for allegedly driving under the influence.
In an alternate universe imagined by Danziger, there is a bizarro New York Times — perhaps known as The Trump Times — that publishes only the kind of “alternative facts” pleasing to the president: Massacres in Bowling Green, terrorist refugees in Sweden, millions of fraudulent voters, and gigantic inaugural crowds. Just be happy you don’t live there, yet.
Donald Trump’s first solo press conference as president had all the trappings of a perfect late night comedy sketch: bizarre rants about Michael Flynn and Russia, the usual lies about his “huge” electoral victory, and plenty of unhinged moments involving what Trump called “real leaks, fake news, and the dishonest media.”
President Trump’s bizarre press conference on Thursday, which saw the president openly berate the White House press corps and suggest an African American reporter was friends with the Congressional Black Caucus, likely did little to assuage fears about Trump’s erratic behavior. It was, in a word, a mess.
Presidents from both parties have always enjoyed partisan cheerleaders in the press who will defend an administration from attacks and enthusiastically support its agenda. But what the Trump team is trying to assemble is something else entirely. It’s trying to build its own self-sustaining, hermetically sealed information bubble so that Trump, his aides, and his supporters don’t have to acknowledge everyday facts.
This current crisis of confidence is about an entire White House philosophy of dishonesty driven by Trump himself. And that certainly includes Trump TV surrogates such as Spicer and Miller, who are quickly amassing resumes built around pushing daily falsehoods. If news producers are avoiding Conway, they should also be pondering the worth of hosting Spicer and Miller.
Science is the most useful tool we have to adapt to climate change and avoid its worst outcomes. But it requires critical thinking and a big-picture perspective to ensure we consider all available evidence. With so many people scrolling through social media feeds for news rather than reading entire articles, facts and clarity can become elusive. It’s up to us all—media and consumers alike—to dig deeper for the full story.
Donald Trump lies and reporters fact-check him, then he and his team spin the lies to blame the “biased” and “dishonest” media. Trump’s team wants to create a world where no one knows what to believe, where facts and reality are irrelevant, and all that matters is what Trump says matters.
The good news is Conway’s awkward “massacre” fabrication was quickly and aggressively debunked, and her reputation may have suffered a long-term hit. The disturbing downside: The Conway incident isn’t a random, dismissible incident. As the Trump White House has proven repeatedly, making things up is becoming the rule, not the exception.
The problem with torture is that people will say anything to make it stop. There is abundant evidence of this behavior in Washington, where the fear of political death also makes people say anything. Only electoral torture — the threat of losing power — can account for the readiness of the White House and the Republican Congress to say anything.
Authoritarians love walls. That will be his scrawl across America. It will make an enemy of our neighbor, Mexico, but who cares? That may be his foreign policy in a nutshell. We’re living in Donald Trump’s reality now, and the “truth” is what Trump says it is.
While the media spent the last week spilling digital ink over inauguration numbers, the new administration was diminishing women’s health and safety around the world, chipping away at health care for millions of Americans, and pouring money that could feed and insure children into a useless garbage heap along the border.
Every time I hear another lie come out of Trump’s mouth — about his inauguration crowd (smaller than Barack Obama’s and the Women’s March), voter fraud (it didn’t exist), the media’s accusing him of attacking the intelligence community (he compared them to the Nazis) — I feel as if I’m back in junior high school trying to break up with the boy my mother warned me wasn’t stable.
Yes, Trump’s a dishonest conspiracy theorist. But he’s also much more than that. He’s a remorseless liar and a grievously insecure man who seems to feed off spite and revenge. It’s not a political strategy, it’s a character defect. Especially for someone like Trump who appears to have no deep ideological moorings.
If we cannot trust these people to tell us the truth on minor matters that can be easily checked, what confidence can we have that they will be square with us on substantive matters where the truth is not a Google search away? What confidence can our allies and adversaries have? The answer is, none. That should scare you.
Thomas Jefferson was so dismayed by political deceptions that he coined a word for it. “Twistifications” referred to a brew of willful misinformation, tortured logic, and artful language designed to sway credulous audiences. Can President Trump get away with his multiple misdirections and twistifications for 1,460 days of intense scrutiny?
Journalists are hesitant to use the blunt word “lie” to describe the statements of politicians. But this hesitance has drifted into acceptance of the George Costanza Rule of Lying: a statement cannot be termed a “lie” unless there is demonstrable evidence that the speaker truly believes it to be false. Since reporters can’t read minds, it is virtually impossible to meet this standard.
State officials in charge of the Nov. 8 election have said they found no evidence of widespread voter fraud and there is no history of it in U.S. elections. Even House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the most senior Republican in Congress, said he had seen no evidence to back up Trump’s claims.
In the first official White House press briefing of the Trump administration, Spicer manipulated the press and tried to delegitimize criticism with falsehoods. But the method — without Saturday’s yelling and direct attacks on the media — went down much easier with his targets.
Previous presidents found that facts could be frustratingly “stubborn” or even “stupid” — but as Danziger observes, Donald Trump and his advisers feel free to invent their own “alternative facts,” always in the service of a larger lie.
According to a handful of lawyers specializing in First Amendment and press issues, Trump is primed to use his office’s great power to intimidate, obstruct, censor, spy on, and silence the media. In the most visible instances, bullying, the president faces no restrictions on his speech, regardless of its truth or who he victimizes.