Good news on Trump: the American press is not taking this lying down

If ever the United States of America needed a fourth estate, it’s now. The man-child in the president’s seat is completely out of control even by his own standards. Given his history of vendettas against those who oppose him, it would be easy — understandable, even — for the press to just hunker down and wait four years for all this to be over.

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It’s to their enormous credit that they are not doing that. The most respected newspapers and magazines in America are writing boldly and uncompromisingly about the man who every day brings the presidency into disrepute.

Here’s a brief selection:

The New York Times plainly states that Trump is a fluent, habitual liar who knows nothing else:

Trump does not simply have “a running war with the media,” as he so indecorously and disrespectfully spouted off while standing on the hallowed ground before the C.I.A. Memorial Wall. He is in fact having a running war with the truth itself.

Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged.

Indeed, one of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science.

The Washington Post explores the source of Trump’s public announcements:

Over the past 12 or so hours, President Trump has made two major policy pronouncements via Twitter. On Tuesday night, he said he may “send the Feds!” to combat the “carnage” in Chicago, and on Wednesday morning, he said he planned to launch a “major investigation” of voter fraud.

Both of these things can pretty easily be traced back to one source: Trump’s television.

The Boston Globe describes how extreme narcissism is at the root of everything Trump does:

Every day of his presidency so far provides yet more evidence of Trump’s acute narcissism; of his inability to control his impulses, husband his anger, or feel genuine empathy for others. After a campaign full of lies, exaggeration, and boastful proclamations, he is acting the same as president. Even after reaching the pinnacle of political power, Trump seemingly cannot tolerate any person who questions his achievements. His response to criticism or to any statement that dents his ego and self-conception of himself is the same as it was during the more than 18 months he ran for president: rage, anger, and a scorched-earth response.

While Trump’s initial temper tantrums have been over the pettiest and most trivial imaginable stories, imagine what his response will be when the stakes really matter.

The New Yorker on the sudden relevance of George Orwell’s 1984 (which is very well worth reading in its entirety):

An unbidden apology rises to the lips, as Orwell’s book duly climbs high in the Amazon rankings: it was far better and smarter than good times past allowed us to think. What it took, of course, to change this view was the Presidency of Donald Trump. Because the single most striking thing about his matchlessly strange first week is how primitive, atavistic, and uncomplicatedly brutal Trump’s brand of authoritarianism is turning out to be. We have to go back to “1984” because, in effect, we have to go back to 1948 to get the flavor.

There is nothing subtle about Trump’s behavior. He lies, he repeats the lie, and his listeners either cower in fear, stammer in disbelief, or try to see how they can turn the lie to their own benefit. Every continental wiseguy, from Žižek to Baudrillard, insisted that when they pulled the full totalitarian wool over our eyes next time, we wouldn’t even know it was happening. Not a bit of it. Trump’s lies, and his urge to tell them, are pure Big Brother crude, however oafish their articulation. They are not postmodern traps and temptations; they are primitive schoolyard taunts and threats.

The point is not that these things are being written: it was inevitable that there would be people writing such things about such a president. The point is that that they are being written by the respected end of the mainstream press. It’s as though the Telegraph, Guardian, Independent and Spectator were writing these things in Britain.

America needs this. Thank you, journalists, for doing your job. Keep it up!

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17 responses to “Good news on Trump: the American press is not taking this lying down

  1. Spoken like a true one-sided progressive.
    Fake news is fake news because its one-sided, much like your take on Trump.

  2. Sorry, Christ Centered Teaching, I am not clear what your point is.

  3. Will any of these messages sink through to those who voted? I mean, its not like its new that Trump has demonstrated his bent towards lies and ignorance (and these are demonstrably true things; facts don’t care what your political interests are.)

    Trump is a monster, for sure; the real problem is that people voted him in; theyu’ll still be there in 4 years. Its entirely possible they voted for Trump, not even liking him, but just as the flaming barrel into the current system.. fine; but certainly Trump will not help them, so they will still be angry in 4 years, and who knows who we’ll get then…

    But all the online outrage didn’t prevent Trump; all the mainstream media .. won’t reach the people who voted for him. Bot sure what can reach them.. but they need to be reached out to, because .. when They come for Trump (and they will have to), I hope for peace ..

  4. “Will any of these messages sink through to those who voted?”

    For many of those who voted for Trump — no, you are right, these messages will never sink in.

    But I think there are plenty of people who voted for him but are now disgusted with what they are seeing, and there will be plenty more. And of course not everyone needs to be convinced — just enough people. I know some of them myself, and I have friends who know many more of them.

  5. At the same time I think it’s hilarious that American “media” and “news” are taking this unprecedented stand NOW… as if the past decades of American politics and presidency have been gilded in truth, honour, and decency. It truly is the biggest circus we’ve ever seen, over there.

  6. No-one is claiming that politics has has ever been 100% truthful. At least one of the pieces I read explicitly makes that points, and lists specific examples of previous presidents lying — Nixon about Watergate, Reagan about Contras, Clinton about Lewinsky. But Trump is not an extrapolation of a previous trend, he is off at right-angles to reality.

  7. David Starner

    Saying that this have always sucked so why are we complaining now is always a refuge for scoundrelry. Even if it were so, calling on high standards now helps make higher standards for the future.

    And there’s an interesting counterexample from Trump’s own administration. When Pence went to Hamilton, the actors spoke to him from the stage, saying “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.” Pence did the same thing most any previous president would have; when the press pushed the question, he blew it off as no big deal and said that he would work for us all. (And I don’t say this as a Pence fan.) Trump got outraged and demanded an apology. That Trump not only takes offense but shows offense at people disagreeing with his administration is part of the concerning parts of this administration.

  8. You are only giving one side of the subject matter.
    This is common nowadays.
    The same thing makes Fake News fake.
    Only telling one side of the story, leaving out the part you don’t like.

  9. David Starner

    It is universally common thing to give one side, and always has been. Attempts to neutrally report the news are a particular practice and philosophy, and have their own problems, like treating the words of liars, abusers and those with fringe, unscholarly ideas as being equal in value to the other side.

    What makes Fake News fake is that it’s fake. When most people are talking about “Fake News”, they’re talking about news that’s simply and clearly false. Treating it as “one side of the story” can be part of the problem; “Obama was born in Kenya” is not one side of the story, it’s just false.

    And if you think there’s important parts left out, feel free to mention them. It’s basically impossible to argue that you’re being fair if someone refuses to say what their problem is with what you’re saying, making vague insinuations quite frustrating; on the flip side, you’ll never convince anyone with vague insinuations, whereas pointing out facts can convince people.

  10. His Columbia University yearbook clearly states he was born in Kenya. His birth certificate is a copy with 9 errors. If he were not both a black man and sitting president, he never would have been allowed to remain president. Not false. Not vague.
    That’s fact.
    And perhaps it will now come to light as such.
    Suppression of facts is fake news, biased reporting, not the whole story. Propaganda and lies.

  11. Dear “Christ Centered Teaching”,

    Your comment is still here for one reason: my long-standing policy that the only comments I delete are spam. Your total disregard for truths that are easily discoverable, not to mention your borderline racism, is the very opposite of Christ-Centered. The attitude of people like you in comments like this is the direct reason that commenters like Robin Jubber write things like “You believe in God, and I favour evidence”, as though it’s a given that Christianity and respect for evidence are opposites.

    So do me a favour: if you post here again, please have the decency to do so under a different name — one that doesn’t bring Christianity into disrepute. And if you insist on posting under this name, at least be good enough to hyphenate the compound adjective “Christ-centered”.

  12. I did enjoy the way he was able to spot nine errors in a birth certificate that had fooled all the experts, but didn’t know the difference between “one-sided” and “false”. I guess that’s what they call “niche skills”.

  13. As a note, I’ve consistently appreciated SF writer John Scalzi’s political posts, over the last year, and his most recent is on-topic.

    It’s been two weeks since I’ve written about Trump here! And what a two weeks it’s been! Herewith, not-especially-well-organized thoughts on a fortnight of a not-especially-well-organized administration:

    1. I mean, these are remarkable times, aren’t they? There are moments in life when you are very truly aware that you are living in history — things that will prominently be in history books fifty or a hundred years down the line — and there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind we’re right smack dab in a middle of some bona fide history, people. It’s kind of exhilarating! Mind you, I’m hoping it’s the exhilaration of a nation reawakening to a commitment of democratic principles, rather than the exhilaration of a consumptive’s moment of clarity before they finally hork out the useful portion of their lungs. But either way, it certainly is a time. …

  14. Thanks for the link, NickS.

  15. Mike,
    Thats okay that you think so.
    Your long on conjecture and short on facts anyhow.

  16. That’s “You’re long on conjecture and short on facts”.

    And that’s “that’s”.

  17. Pingback: Why Trump matters to me: I love America | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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