, 04.15.2020 10:46 AM

Trump is good at one thing – lying

Donald Trump hasn’t had many achievements.

Now, before the Spring of 2020, he and his cabal would point to the economy and the stock markets, of course. Trump would regularly say he was the reason the economy and the markets were going up.

But, in politics, if you are dumb enough to claim credit for things on their way up, you have to take the blame when they go down, too. And things are way, way, way down.

The stock markets have lost trillions in value – $7.3 trillion on the S&P 500, alone, since its mid-February high. And the world economy? We’re no longer in a global recession, some economists say – we may well be hurtling towards a depression, with millions of lost jobs to go with it. Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller says a climate of fear is sending us that way.

So much for your supposed economic achievements, Mr. Trump. They’re gone. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic – and the Trump regime’s abject refusal to prepare for its arrival on American shores – the economy and the markets are goners for the foreseeable future.

But about one thing Donald Trump can still claim some credit. And it is indisputably his: disinformation. He remains the world-champ at that.

Entering the crowded field to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, Trump and his team knew he had many more negatives than positives – credible allegations of racism, law-breaking and sexual misconduct. They knew those things would be reported on, and amplified by his political opponents.

So Trump decided to shoot the messenger.

“Fake news,” more than anything else, became his rallying cry from the earliest days of his presidential campaign. Any reporter or news organization who dared shine a critical light on Trump would be demonized. “Fake news” – along with kvetching tweets about “witch hunts” and “failing” and “money-losing” news organizations – insulated Trump from attacks.

It worked. Within the Republican base – a group who remain wildly enthusiastic about Trump, his missteps on coronavirus notwithstanding – antipathy towards the news media is widespread.

Asked if fake or made-up news was a problem in the United States, a whopping 90 per cent of self-identified Republican respondents to a Pew 2019 poll said it was “a very big problem” or a “moderately big problem.” Said the Pew pollsters: “Republicans are about three times more likely than Democrats (58 percent versus 20 percent) to say that journalists create a lot of fake news.”

Braying and screeching about “fake news,” as a political strategy, has been Donald Trump’s greatest political achievement. It has protected him from serial scandals that would have destroyed the fortunes of any other politician.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Donald Trump’s fake news strategy hasn’t diminished. If anything, it has grown worse.

On March 6, he said that “anybody who wants a [coronavirus] test can get a test.” False.

On March 12, he said his administration’s coronavirus response “is one of the best.” False.

On March 15, he said “we have tremendous control” of the virus. False.

On March 23, he said an anti-malaria drug was “approved” to fight coronavirus. False.

On March 30, he said his administration “inherited a broken test” for coronavirus. False.

Trump said on April 1 that the U.S. had implemented a travel ban “way before anybody else.” False.

On April 6, he said the Obama administration “didn’t even know [swine flu] was happening.” False.

You could go on and on – and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden actually did, in a devastating ad that documented Trump’s lies growing exponentially during the pandemic, along with the number of Americans killed by the virus.

But among Trump’s political core vote, none of it matters. While several polls show Biden as many as ten points ahead of Trump nationally – and Trump’s popularity underwater with most Americans – the GOP base is still with him. Last week, a CNN poll found that an astonishing 88 per cent of Republicans approved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

In recent political history, then, there has never been a politician who has complained so loudly, or so often, about “fake news.”

And nor has there been one who has benefitted more from being the principal source of fake news.

Before the pandemic, and now during it, “fake news” remains Donald Trump’s main – and only – achievement.

17 Comments

  1. jsa says:

    the fate of the democrats lies in the capable hands of dr. tedros adhanom ghebreyesus… good luck!

  2. Steve Teller says:

    The first person who says “but all politicians lie” gets a punch in the mouth.

    From a safe 6-foot distance, of course.

    • Fred from BC says:

      “The first person who says “but all politicians lie” gets a punch in the mouth.”

      That doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the seemingly endless barrage of lies from a news media we *used to* be able to trust to report nothing but the facts. Those days are gone, sadly…

    • Peter says:

      But there is an a general sense in which all politicians do lie these days, all the time. Also all advertisers, banks that claim your personal financial health is their primary concern, sportscasters who say this or that player is lousy, etc. I can’t believe the number of ads I’m seeing from companies claiming to be my personal partner in fighting the virus. Thanks to social and even traditional media, the word has expanded in meaning dramatically in recent decades. It used to have a much more restricted meaning and also was <i<prima facie defamatory and unparliamentary, etc, and therefore much more damning. Now it’s come to mean error, exaggeration, puffery, boasting, opinion, etc., especially in political debate. Most of the things Warren refers to would not have been seen generally as lies thirty years ago. That may explain why the accusation has little effect on opinion polls no matter how often and widespread it is showered. Perhaps that will change when the Oxford Dictionary adds ” any statement made by Donald Trump” to the definition in its next edition.

    • Steve,

      With respect, I guess we’re not following the same Canadian and American politicians.

  3. Shawn says:

    And every progressive is high on licking China’s communist parties ass.

  4. Peter says:

    If I were an independent American voter and presumably wary of everybody, I might well be thinking more negatively about Trump these days because I would be worried about whether he’s too erratic and arrogant for the challenge and put off by the endless mutual “gotcha” games he and the media play. I would be particularly concerned that he was the wrong man to facilitate the pragmatic, non-partisan federal-state cooperation that is so crucial to a collective national effort. But I wouldn’t be the slightest bit impressed with Dems who just tried to tell me they would have done things differently and better, or seemed only interested in calling Trump names and rotely opposing everything he said and did. They might even pull me the other way. Everybody, including me, was wrong about what they said and thought as recently as a month ago. On March 3rd, Cuomo claimed NYC had everything under control, in part because they had “the best doctors in the world”. Slightly more than a month later, he’s a poster boy for Churchillian resolve in the face of existential adversity. Sorry, Joe, I do not believe for a moment you would have done better and I never will. So far, I remain to be convinced you would be doing better as we speak. I’m listening, but if all you have to give us are endless variations of Orange Man Bad, maybe not for that long.

    And if I were honest, I would realize I was complicit in the sunny, overconfident assurances all national leaders gave us. If any politician or health professional in February or early March had told me the situation demanded cancelling all travel, closing borders, shutting down almost all commercial and social life and confining most of the public to solitary isolation, I would not have believed or supported them and I would have said that was excessive, unnecessary overkill. I guess in modern parlance that makes me a liar. Any fellow liars out there?

    • Peter,

      It’s a pretty safe bet that most of us, me included, thought the initial blanket closure was probably an over-reaction. But then I’m no doctor or other healthcare practitioner.

      • Peter says:

        True, and we’re in their hands now. But they aren’t united in what should or must be done either. There are a lot of differing and in some cases quite varied expert opinions out there on the nature of the virus, how it spreads , how many deaths it may cause, how to protect against it effectively and what can treat it. In particular there seem to be more voices questioning whether the total shutdown is necessary or even wise. Things like mortality projections and concerns over ventilators seem to be shifting almost weekly. Plus they understandably have a narrow focus. They are focused on how to stop a pandemic, not on people losing their houses and livelihoods. But somebody has to worry about them too. The hard truth is that there is a lot they do not know and there is a big difference between an expert and a clairvoyant.

  5. JIM Johnson says:

    Trudeau is no slouch in the lying department, probably worse.

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