“Trump is not making a narrow, surgical, legally feasible case to enhance his chances to still be living in the White House come January 21. (That’s … improbable.) He’s not doing this, either, to win the argument. (It’s almost mathematically impossible.) He’s doing it, say political strategists, longtime Trump watchers and experts on authoritarian tactics, to sow doubt, save face and strengthen even in defeat his lifeblood of a bond with his political base.
And it’s … working. Seven in 10 Republicans, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll earlier this week, believe the election was stolen from their candidate.
It is overall for Trump both a culmination and a continuation: a grand finale of sorts of the past five-plus years, in which he’s relied so much on so much unreality—and also a runway, a kind of topspin toward what’s to come once he leaves Washington, D.C., and presumably decamps to Mar-a-Lago to initiate a post-presidency that is all but assured to be unlike any other. The stakes are sky-high, and the collateral damage to America’s democracy could be lasting and profound, but Trump is doing what Trump has always done. He’s spinning a myth to serve his own interest. He’s doing what he believes he needs to do to put at least himself in the best possible position for the future after yet another failure.”
“Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was confronted by a CBS reporter as he stepped off a plane. “What is your response to the New York Post story about your son, sir?”
To his credit, Biden dismissed the question, but that’s not really the point. The story the reporter was referencing, which was peddled to the Post by Rudy Giuliani, is absolute bullshit. The staff journalist who wrote the story even reportedly refused to put his name on the byline out of concerns that it was bogus and unreliable.”
“the goal of people like Giuliani was to get the press to cover a story not in order to convince people that it’s true, but to amplify a false narrative and divert attention — and maybe drive the public to exhaustion. It’s a strategy that Steve Bannon colorfully dubbed “flooding the zone with shit.””
“Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society released a working paper studying mail-in voting disinformation campaigns. Using a quantitative and qualitative study of millions of tweets and tens of thousands of Facebook posts and news stories about mail-in voter fraud — the persistent but debunked idea that people are illegally using mail-in ballots to meaningfully sway elections — the study found that President Trump was largely responsible for spreading that disinformation.
In particular, the study found that the president himself, on Twitter as well as through press conferences and interviews, was the main source of falsehoods about mail-in voter fraud. In turn, right-wing media organizations and media organizations in general abetted the spread of that disinformation by uncritically parroting it without full context.
The intention is to get people to believe mail-in voting is faulty precisely as 80 million people are set to vote by mail this year, due to the coronavirus. Uncertainty about the mail-in voting process has the potential to subdue voter turnout and undermine faith in the outcome of the upcoming election.
This is hardly the only disinformation campaign being led by Trump this year. A recent Cornell study found the president to be the largest driver of coronavirus disinformation as well. In conjunction with lies about mail-in voting, these two campaigns not only jeopardize the health of millions of Americans but also stand to sway the election results.”
“It’s quite the list, but this level of lying and misleading isn’t new to Trump. According to the Washington Post, Trump has now made more than 20,000 public false or misleading claims since he assumed office.
As my colleague Matt Yglesias has argued, there’s something more to this than just lying — it’s bullshitting. Here’s Princeton University philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt, explaining the concept:
“For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”
It’s not just that Trump is lying. It’s that Trump doesn’t seem to care at all for the truth. What he says is only meant to make him look good.”
““Obamagate” is a convoluted mess of conspiracy theories untethered to reality. It is a deflection from the utter catastrophe unfolding daily because of the Trump administration’s disastrous coronavirus response.
That may not matter. Trump has used the “witch hunt” strategy since the start of his presidency, and, when it comes to his base and his allies in Congress and the administration, it works.”
“Truth decay encompasses four trends, each of which is relevant to what we’re experiencing now.
The first is increasing disagreement about facts and data. An example in this context would be the disagreement about the safety of vaccines and whether people will take them once they’re made and distributed.
The second trend is the increased blurring of the line between fact and opinion. This is caused a lot by commentary in cable news or social media, places where facts and opinion are mixed together and make it really hard to determine what’s real and what’s someone’s opinion or analysis.
The third trend is the increasing volume of opinion compared to fact. You’re just seeing a lot more opinion out there. If you’re looking for facts, you have to work pretty hard to dig through all that commentary before you can actually find the raw facts you might be looking for.
Finally, declining trust in key institutions that provide information. We’re experiencing this now with the government and the media.
Put together, people are not sure what’s true what’s not, and they don’t even really know where to turn to find factual information they’re looking for.”
“Dr. Anthony Fauci, for example, seems to be the guy providing the media and the public with the necessary facts about the coronavirus right now. But because the president undercuts him and disagrees with a lot of what he says, he’s become somewhat of a polarizing figure. If you’re a Trump fan, you might not be a Fauci fan, and vice versa.
At such a crucial time, how is the expertise of someone like Fauci or other public health experts not innately trusted?”
“people like to confirm their own beliefs. They don’t necessarily want to hear information that disagrees with their views, and it leads people to reject information from experts that doesn’t fit their narrative.”
“I’m skeptical this moment will lead to only facts coming from the top and an extra effort from the bottom to seek facts. Tens of thousands of Americans have died, millions have fallen ill, and yet there doesn’t seem to be a change. The US isn’t rising to the moment.”
“this is a national failure because it prevents us from making progress on the big issues that our country needs to confront if we want to continue being a prosperous nation and maintain the position we have in the world.”
“All politicians garner fact-checks, but Trump is so dishonest that CNN’s Daniel Dale has a beat composed exclusively of keeping track of all the nonsense the president spouts, routinely generating headlines like “Trump made 96 false claims over the last two weeks” and “Trump makes at least 18 false claims in ranting Fox & Friends interview.”
The sheer range of things Trump lies about — including recently claiming that the prime minister of Canada edited a version of Home Alone 2 to remove a Trump cameo — is mind-boggling and goes way beyond any kind of normal political process.
Part of Trump lying about everything is that he frequently says things specifically about Iran that are not true. Back in July, for example, Trump tweeted about the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal that misstated the amount of money involved, misstated the duration of the deal, and fabricated secret Iranian violations of the agreement. It was not particularly clear at the time why Trump was lying about this stuff. But he lies so routinely about everything that people scarcely bother to inquire about what might be driving those specific lies.”
“As the former CIA director, Pompeo distorted intelligence about Russia to fit Trump’s preferred narratives. Then, as secretary of state, he misled the public about his role in the Ukrainian aid holdup that led to Trump’s impeachment.
Pompeo, too, engages in routine misstatements about Iran specifically, including lies about Iranian nuclear research.
This is important because Pompeo has become the public face of the administration on this issue. Although Pompeo does not engage in the range of dishonest statements that Trump does, his more focused dishonesty does include statements on Iran.”
“I hope there was some kind of good reason to bomb that Baghdad airport and some kind of plan to deal with the aftermath. But all we really know is that the people in charge of explaining to us what happened and why aren’t worthy of our trust.”
“Three years after Kellyanne Conway introduced the doctrine of ‘alternative facts’ on his own program, a light went on for Chuck Todd,” Jay Rosen wrote. “Republican strategy, he now realized, was to make stuff up, spread it on social media, repeat it in your answers to journalists — even when you know it’s a lie with crumbs of truth mixed in — and then convert whatever controversy arises into go-get-em points with the base, while pocketing for the party a juicy dividend: additional mistrust of the news media to help insulate President Trump among loyalists when his increasingly brazen actions are reported as news.”