The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part III: The Tweet

trump-tweet-enemies

Part I in this series began with a random choice of a New York Times anti-President hit piece of the day. This is the one of truths that the mainstream media wants to pretend  doesn’t exist: the intentionally, relentlessly negative, innuendo-filled reporting regarding the Trump administration, with the goal of alarming the public, undermining its trust in the government, weakening his Presidency, or bringing it down entirely. Just to be up to date, let’s look at today’s front page…and what do we find? “A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates.”  The article includes a prominent graphic titled “Donald Trump’s Connections in the Ukraine.” But the article itself, and any research into the individuals shown in the graphic, show no association between Donald Trump and the Ukraine whatsoever. We see…

Andrii V. Artemenko: Ukrainian politician with a peace plan for Ukraine and a file alleging that its president is corrupt.

Felix H. Sater: Russian-American businessman with longstanding ties to the Trump Organization.

Michael D. Cohen: Trump’s personal attorney, under scrutiny from F.B.I. over links with Russia.

Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign manager with pro-Russian political ties in Ukraine now under investigation by the F.B.I.

There is no evidence or even allegation that Artemenko has even spoken to Trump. Sater was involved in helping businessman Trump seek deals in Russia, and that is all the article tells us about him. Cohen is Trump’s lawyer, and a lawyer’s clients are not “linked” to other clients, unless you think Patty Hearst was “linked” to O.J. Simpson through their mutual lawyer, F. Lee Bailey.

Then there is Manafort, who is not  in the Trump Administration, and was fired from the campaign before the election. Back when he was the campaign manager, Politifact did a “check” on him, and found that he had done political consulting work for Ukrainian politicians. Among the international clients Clinton consultant James Carville lists on his website are politicians in Argentina (lots), Columbia, Bolivia,  and yes, the Ukraine, that’s just “some” of the them, meaning that some of the others either don’t want to be known or wouldn’t make Carville look good if they were known. Was Hillary Clinton “associated” with everyone on Carville’s client list? (Also a Carville client: the late Senator Ted Kennedy, serial pussy-grabber and un-prosecuted negligent homicide suspect). Of course not, but that’s the degree of “association” with the Ukraine that the Times article pins on the President, once you get past the front page headline and graphic. The photo over the online version of the article even shows President Trump, who is barely mentioned in the substance of the piece at all, except in such references as “Mr. Trump’s lawyer.”

Might all of these “associations”—this use of guilt by association would be too attenuated even for Joe McCarthy–eventually add up to something sinister, and a scandal that involves the Trump administration? Sure, anything is possible. THAT would be news. THAT would belong on the front page. THIS story, however, is a dog’s breakfast of innuendo, speculation, “hmmmm..” and nothing. It is fake news…not fraudulent in its facts, fraudulent  in its presentation, placement in the paper and intentional suggestion that what is known justifies suspicion of the President. The defenders of the ongoing journalist attacks on the President continue to argue that fact-based smears and rumor-mongering stories published in major news sources are not “fake news,” and after a story like this, I have to wonder about their honesty too. There is only one way this kind of smoky article makes a front page above the fold.

Now on to the Tweet Heard ‘Round The World. As discussed in Part II, the President was performing  a public service when he told the newsmedia to its reporters’ smug  faces that they were biased, hateful, incompetent and dishonest. Somebody had to do it. Their supposed “watchdogs” like CNN’s Brian Stelter won’t do it, because he is too busy bashing the President himself while defending his pals.

It would be much better if someone in academia, or a prominent journalist pointed out how terrible a biased and untrustworthy news media is for the nation, but this is the Left’s attempted coup, after all. Try finding an objective authority in academia or journalism. So the leader of the nation, on national television, has to tell the self-congratulatory journalists that they are failing their duty to the nation, which is to inform the public. They see their duty as bringing down a President their Progressive Masters hate.  In other words, the President is saying, essentially..

The follow-up tweet elaborated by specifying just how much of a betrayal this is, saying,

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

Look at this as the second slap. Better yet, look at it as the journalism version of Ronald Reagan slapping the Soviet Union with the well-deserved label, “The Evil Empire.”  Many commentators, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, traced the beginning of the unraveling of the Iron Curtain to Reagan’s brutal frankness.

The National Association of Evangelicals invited President Reagan to speak at its annual convention, and explain his position on the Nuclear Freeze issue. On March 8 of 1983, he concluded his remarks by saying,

“So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride — the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”

Democrats, scholars, and the news media erupted with outrage: what incompetent, bellicose  and arrogant diplomacy!  The Soviets weren’t too happy either, but they were listening. Vladimir Bukovsky,  a political prisoner in the Soviet Union at the time of the speech, has said that Reagan’s words of the speech  became “incredibly popular” behind the Iron Curtain, and struck at its heart by forcing the Soviet Union to confront what it had become.

The spin is that Trump’s tweet attacks “freedom the press.” It does not, any more than Reagan’s words attacked the people of the Soviet Union. The “Fake News media,” by which Trump means the biased and partisan news media that place its political preferences and the agendas of its journalists above the ethical duty to accurately and objectively inform the public so it can competently discharge the obligations of citizenship in a constitutional democracy. The descent of the news media into untrustworthiness is the real threat to freedom of the press, because it renders it worthless. The purpose of that First Amendment guarantee is to ensure that the government doesn’t try to manipulate the public by controlling what the public knows. What good is that guarantee, if journalists, using the First Amendment as cover, set out to distort the truth for their own agendas?

That is what the mainstream news media is doing now, in an order of magnitude escalation of what it has been doing for decades. That is a betrayal of the public trust. It makes competent democracy impossible. It risks Soviet, Big Brother-style totalitarian government. It destroys the ability of the public to know what sources to trust, and how to find the truth. It divides the nation, and creates separate “facts” that make consensus and even civil conversation impossible.

One cannot  credibly argue that the news media has not been engaged in this conduct. At moments of candor, journalists admit it, and show pride in it. Chuck Todd, NBC’s “Meet the Press” host, described the role of journalists as “the referees of  politics,” and no fellow journalists disagreed. What qualifies Todd or any reporter to be a referee?  Sean Davis nailed the flaw in the news media’s arrogant misconception of its own role:

In politics, once you get beyond the narrow legal areas where there are very clear rules and very clear authorities who can judge compliance or non-compliance, the real referees are voters. Not reporters. Not candidates. Not judges. The real referees, the individuals tasked with determining what gets put on the scoreboard, are voters. It is, after all, their votes that determine the winner at the end of the contest.

And that fact is exactly why Chuck Todd so desperately wants to be viewed as a referee, rather than an observer who just happens to have a camera in front of him and a media operation behind him. He wants you to think he’s the one calling balls and strikes. He wants you to think he’s the expert on the rules. He wants to be the one to tell you what’s out of bounds and what isn’t. And the reason he wants that is because he, like so many other reporters (he is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the only political reporter to have significant ties to the Democratic Party), has skin in the game.

It is also impossible to credibly argue, except from the perspective that deceiving the public is necessary for “the greater good,” the totalitarian argument, that this conduct is anything but harmful and dangerous. It is impossible to credibly argue that the American public isn’t being grievously harmed.

Is the term “enemy” too strong for an institution and a profession that causes such harm to the public? In a way it is: enemy properly means a party that intends harm,  and journalists do not intend to harm the nation or the public. Neither, however, were the leaders of the Soviet Union “evil.” In both cases the effects of the conduct being criticized by a President were  indistinguishable from the effects if the intent were malign. That justifies the shocking language, because it is a catalyst to self-realization.

To preserve the essence of a free press, that free press must be responsible, honest, fair and trustworthy. Senator McCain to the contrary, it is not the President who is undermining the First Amendment, but the news media that is abusing it.

In “Falling Down,” the shattering  climax occurs when Michael Douglas’s character, a simple man who snaps after one indignity too many and goes on a murderous rampage, is finally cornered by police…

 

That is the harsh moment the mainstream news media must face, and soon. The President’s tweet should help them face it, but make no mistake. Right now, the journalists are the bad guys, and that’s terrible for America.

 

 

 

28 Comments

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28 responses to “The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part III: The Tweet

  1. The news media, and some of the public, don’t understand that the right of freedom of the press doesn’t mean that how they choose to use that right, is right.

  2. Warren

    Jack, your exegesis of the President’s statements and Tweets is infinitely more sophisticated than we have any reason to believe the President means or intends. In a previous post, you chided some in the media for abetting a “psychotic break they are sure is coming and can’t wait to occur.” I’d submit that many, if not most, political journalists are positively terrified of such a break. They have seen Trump’s behavior up close and they are alarmed. That said, if we accept this interpretation of the press egging Trump’s bad angels on, so to speak, I’d submit that Trump is guilty of the same with regard to the media. He has no interest in “preserving the essence of a free press” or making the media more responsible. Come on. He *loves* the notion that the media is *his* enemy — hence the fig-leaf of calling them the enemy of the people. You may be right that political journalists deserve such a drubbing (personally, I disagree), but the notion that Trump is doing so in the interest of preserving a free and independent press and prompting more ethical journalism is utterly absurd. Reagan was a true believer in democracy and I have no doubt he wanted the demise of the Soviet Union far more than he desired the Soviet Union as some sort of foil that would make him and his country look better by comparison. Trump’s motives are far less high-minded and more instinctual. He doesn’t want good journalism; he wants journalism that makes him look good.

  3. Chris

    Now on to the Tweet Heard ‘Round The World. As discussed in Part II, the President was performing a public service when he told the newsmedia to its reporters’ smug faces that they were biased, hateful, incompetent and dishonest. Somebody had to do it.

    But isn’t Trump–a pathological liar who sees sources such as InfoWars, World Net Daily and Breitbart as the height of journalistic excellence–ethically estopped from being that somebody?

    As for the Soviet Union comparison, I’m sure you can see what’s wrong with comparing law-abiding citizens of our own country to a hostile nation without me having to explain it to you.

    • He’s President from the United States. That’s all the authority he needs. Nor has he ever said that those sources are the height of anything. They are three that don’t go out of their way to bash him. Being human, he naturally would rather read compliments than contrived insults.

      • Chris

        You’ve previously said that senators who have engaged in unethical conduct are ethically estopped from criticizing others for the same conduct, so I’m not sure why the same does not apply to presidents. But I suppose I’ve never been entirely clear on how ethics estoppel works.

        And I would say that any praise for InfoWars disqualifies someone from criticizing the media. Trump has said Alex Jones–a man who says that Sandy Hook was a government hoax and that no actual children were killed–has an “excellent reputation.” Even if every critique of the media he has made is true, he should be ashamed of making them, and deserves criticism for having the gall to do so.

        • Warren

          I agree with Chris. I think what’s head-spinning for some of your readers is how at odds your defense of Trump’s statements seems to be with your previous criticism of him. I get that you want to respect the office of the President and that you want the President to succeed. But this is not mutually exclusive with finding fault with *this* President who, hostile media or not, continues to spread falsehoods on a daily basis and comports himself in a way that causes reasonable people to wonder if he is mentally stable.

          Impugning Trump out of pure hatred or partisan scare-mongering is plainly unethical. I don’t see Chris, for instance, doing that, though, and I think he’s representative of a not insignificant part of the President’s detractors. We don’t hate him. We’re worried about what he may do to the country, and we’re concerned that his erratic deportment denotes erratic thinking and will lead to erratic action.

          • 1. I have always defended Trump, and any politician, from unethical attacks. He gets more than most, and since his election, a full-on attempt at destruction. That isn’t criticism, or journalism.
            2. Still, Trump is not the issue. The media conduct that he correctly flagged is the issue. His own problems don’t change a thing.

            • On point one, this is while they’ll never accept reality, because they’ll never accept the depths of depravity the Left has gone to in their unprecedented post-election melt down. When it seems that 90% of the attacks on Trump have some solid unethical component to them, you are compelled to fight against those attacks. And hence it looks like you are defending Trump, when you are really defending truth and ethics.

              I’d love for the day we can focus on Trump’s flaws from a fair and rational angle instead of putting out the Republic-killing asininity that erupts daily from the Left.

        • You surely can see that A President’s off-hand words are neither the same nor subject to the same standards as a news source. Anyone who get their news from an elected official, as with a comedian or a grocer, is an idiot.

          Moreover, in a situation where there is no one else who is calling a profession to account, you complaint looks like a desire to cover up inconvenient facts. Again, the President does the public—and, if it was not so far gone, journalism—a service for flagging this.

          I don’t care to hear Dr. Phil call out another TV doctor as a fraud and a quack, but if he’s the only one who will do it, and he’s right, then we will not let the imperfect be the enemy of the good.

          Again, Trump’s lies are not lies, and are almost entirely non-material to anything. The media’s lies and misrepresentations do far more damage, including crippling it as a source of debunking Trump’s lies when the matter.

          Check out the stupid Sweden controversy.

          • Warren

            You surely can see that A President’s off-hand words are neither the same nor subject to the same standards as a news source.

            No, but they are indicative of the way he thinks and the way he conducts himself. Most of the President’s day consists of meeting with people and hashing policy out by discussing and listening. If his conduct in public is indicative in the slightest of the way he runs these meetings and his capacity for listening, advising, and opining, then people are right to worry!

            And forget Dr. Phil. I, for what it’s worth, do not think Donald Trump is mentally unbalanced. I *do* think that he shows every sign of having a very negligible attention span, difficulty expressing himself clearly, a tendency toward trivial tangents, and, frankly, a certain weirdness. Calling out private citizens for lacking mental health credentials is a straw man when they’re not actually saying the President is crazy. The fact that he sometimes *appears* to these private citizens as crazy should at a bare minimum cause folks to be at least a little concerned about his maturity and fitness for office.

            • Tippy Scales

              Yes, Jack, the Sweden thing is a perfect illustration. Trump often says things off the top of his head, and during his speech, White House staff later said he wasn’t talking about an attack “last night,” but a Tucker Carlson interview the previous evening in which a guest talked about Sweden’s spike in crime since opening its borders.

              An honest media wouldn’t solely focus on the verbal misstep; this would be a perfect time to ask: What is happening in Sweden? Once the White House cleared up what the president was talking about, the media should then take a close look at that: Is he right? Has there been a spike in crime after tons of immigrants flooded into Sweden?

              Rather, the dishonest press is arguing semantics: “There was no terror attack last night in Sweden.”

              It’s become a national embarrassment.

          • Other Bill

            How many states was it Obama campaigned in, fifty-seven? With absolute impunity?

          • charlesgreen

            “Trump’s lies are not lies, and are almost entirely non-material to anything. The media’s lies and misrepresentations do far more damage,”

            I really do not know what to say in response to this statement of yours. It boggles me.

            But hey, let me try anyway.

            The now-president Trump has told “you-pick-your-word-for-its” many times, and often doubled down on it. Here are just a few examples.

            –Can you seriously say anything good about someone who respects Alex Jones, a man who denies that children were killed in Sandy Hook?
            –Need I mention birtherism? Over and over and over. Was that a verbal slip?
            –Did he not say he was going to appoint a special prosecutor for Hillary on Day 1?
            –Did he not say he was going to sue all those women?
            –Did he not claim he saw thousands of cheering Muslims on 9-11?
            –Do you think calling Ted Cruz’s father a co-assassin of JFK was a verbal slip?
            –Is he visually impaired that he can’t tell the size of two crowds from photos?
            –Do you believe that he’s the least anti-Semitic person anyone’s ever met when he pointedly refused to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day? Or that that was another slip of the tongue?
            –Did he not today just back off his promise of last week that a “revise and replace” bill from the White House was almost complete? (Then why is he suddenly saying ‘we’ll take the House’s plan”?)
            –Try searching for the Trump-Pence campaign page where they promised to designate China as a currency manipulator on Day One. You’ll find a “404 Page Not Found” error message.
            –Did he not say, during his campaign, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Where is it? Is that not a lie?
            –Did he not say he’d get rid of gun-free zones on Day One? “My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.” Was that a verbal slip? How is that not a lie?
            –Did he not say Obama founded ISIS? And then when asked whether he meant it metaphorically, or in a roundabout way, he doubled down and said no, he was the founder. What do you call that?

            HOW ARE THESE NOT LIES? And given that there are so many, with so many being very specific in nature, and with him doubling down frequently, it seems to me that if you want to maintain that “Trump’s lies are not lies” then what the hell are they? Mumblings of a madman?

            Bush was well known for malapropisms, and he got razzed for them, but everybody knew that was just George’s way of talking. This is not what Trump is doing. This is Mad Hatter stuff.

            Consciously or unconsciously, he is committing an assault on language, logic and reason. And if he can get someone as sharp and literate as you to say things like “Trump’s lies are not lies,” then I submit that as Exhibit A that he also contradicts your claim that the press is more dangerous than he is. He’s got you saying stupid stuff – ergo he’s a ton more dangerous than Chuck Todd.

            And regarding damage done: you’ve claimed many times that Obama was divisive. After one month of Trump, look at us! How’s our relations with Europe going just now? How is Turkey feeling about us? Ukraine? Have we pissed off Mexico enough? It took Obama years to get us this divisive, if you buy that narrative.

            I watched 60 minutes or one of those shows the other night, with a story about how Canada is humanely admitting refugees from a part of the world we bear some responsibility for having tossed into a mess. We, by contrast, are behaving in the same reprehensible way that we and Britain did when the Jews were getting tossed out of Europe – closing our borders, turning away ships, interning races, and blustering about immigrants taking jobs.

            Tell me again how Martha Raddatz et al are causing more harm than this man-who-unfortunately-is-President. I do not see it.

            • Chris

              –Did he not claim he saw thousands of cheering Muslims on 9-11?

              I’m singling out this one, charles, because in this blog post Jack not only called that a lie, but a “Nazi lie:”

              https://ethicsalarms.com/2015/12/01/trumps-new-jersey-muslims-9-11-celebration-lie-justifies-a-nazi-label/

              Now he tells us that not only is it unfair to compare Trump with Nazis (fair, but contradictory to his earlier stance) but that it isn’t even fair to call him a liar (which he is).

              Jack, this wouldn’t be so frustrating if I didn’t respect and admire you so much. Few bloggers–perhaps none–have gotten me to examine my own biases so thoroughly.

              But I think your huge shift since the election has caused you to make many arguments which are rooted in the bias toward the office of the presidency. This can be a good bias at times, but in this case it is making you pass off several of Trump’s most damning character defects as mere quirks that we just have to accept and live with. It’s forced you to argue that we should hold our president to a lower standard than past presidents, than the media, than protesting citizens–lower than virtually any other human being on earth.

              I don’t believe that. I believe the president should be held to a higher standard. And I believe that by lowering this standard, Trump has done unenumerable damage to the office and to our country. I believe that every day he remains in office does more and more damage to it. I believe everything you said about Trump throughout the campaign was true, and does not matter any less now that he is president. In fact, it matters much, much more.

            • fattymoon

              Thank you, Charles. Again, I don’t have the smarts, but you and some others here do. Jack is (apparently) going batshit over Trump, and I don’t know why.

              Hey, Jack! Get your mind off this and play me game already.

          • Chris

            You surely can see that A President’s off-hand words are neither the same nor subject to the same standards as a news source. Anyone who get their news from an elected official, as with a comedian or a grocer, is an idiot.

            If a president implies that a terror attack happened “last night in Sweden,” I don’t think it takes an “idiot” to believe him. He’s the president. Shouldn’t he know when and where terrorist attacks have occurred?

            Of course, it would take an idiot to believe Trump when he talks about terrorist attacks, since his administration has made several of them up already. But that’s a rule for Trump, not a rule for presidents. At least, before. Now Trump has set the precedent that you shouldn’t trust presidents to know whether or not a terror attack has occurred the night before in a foreign country. That is a terrible precedent, and shows the damage Trump is doing to the office.

            Moreover, in a situation where there is no one else who is calling a profession to account,

            Of course there are others calling the profession to account. You, for instance. Of course, none have the bully pulpit the president has. But that only means he needs to be more responsible with his words. I don’t care how irresponsible you think the press is, calling them “the enemy of the American people” is no better than a Lefty protester using the same language to describe Trump, and if you think it is, you’re employing a double standard.

            Again, Trump’s lies are not lies, and are almost entirely non-material to anything.

            His lie that millions of illegals voted is material to voter ID laws. His many lies about terrorism is material to his travel ban and a possible future Muslim ban. His lies about the rising crime rate are relevant to crime policy. His lies about immigration are relevant to immigration policy.

          • Greg

            The media coverage of “Donald Trump’s lies,” and most recently of the stupid Sweden controversy, conflates several different categories of statements and treats them all as being equally serious. For example, let’s suppose Trump tells this story at one of his rallies:

            “I was out on the boat – last week with Bill Clinton – just off the coast a few miles away from Mar a Lago – one of the great resorts of the world, by the way — and pulled in a 9-foot sailfish, the biggest sailfish ever caught. The biggest in those waters. It was a hell of a fight – gigantic fish almost pulled me overboard, one of the hands grabbed me and saved me really, kept me from going in – (Trump mimes himself almost falling into the water and being pulled back, to comic effect) – a Cuban immigrant by the way, a legal one and America can be proud of him.”

            And let’s suppose that the next day the New York Times prints a front page story hysterically denouncing this story as a lie. When we read the article, we may find out that Trump’s story was any of the following:

            1. An outright lie: Trump has never caught a sailfish in his life.

            2. An exaggeration to make Trump look better: The exaggeration may be relatively slight (the sailfish wasn’t 9 feet long; it was 8 feet, which is still an awfully big fish) or gross (it was a 4-foot sailfish, which is puny).

            3. An enhancement to make the story more entertaining: Trump is actually a terrific fisherman. He didn’t need any help and never came close to falling into the water.

            4. A statement that Trump made without regard to its truth or falsity: The hand has a Hispanic accent but Trump has no idea whether he is a Cuban immigrant or not. He added that part to the story because it supports one of his pet policy positions. Actually, the hand is an American citizen born in Miami, and he is of Guatemalan ancestry, not Cuban.

            5. An ignorant, lazy but honest error: The captain flattered Trump by telling him that his sailfish was the biggest ever caught in those waters, and Trump never bothered to look up the facts in a reputable reference source. Actually Trump’s fish was a full foot short of the record.

            6. Mis-remembered: The way he remembers it, he was fishing off Mar a Lago that day, but actually he was 1,000 miles away, off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

            7. True, but Trump’s thoughts are so much faster than his tongue and his syntax is so garbled that the story gives a false impression: Trump actually caught the fish 5 years ago while fishing with Tiger Woods. Trump didn’t mean he caught the fish with Bill Clinton last week. He meant that he just now had a fleeting thought about an interview with Bill Clinton that he saw last week on TV, which reminds him that he once read in the New York Post that Clinton had gone deep-sea fishing with Ron Burkle, which reminds him of his own triumph with the sailfish. As Trump so often does, he was sharing his train of thought, in a disjointed way, with his audience. The surprising thing is that, often, his gestures and tone of voice convey his meaning clearly to his friendly audience, even though it is completely lost on a hostile press and in transcripts.

            8. Either true or false, depending on your point of view: Trump was actually fishing near the Bahamas, 100 miles away from Mar a Lago, which he considers pretty close but the Times considers pretty far. The Times accuses Trump of lying in order to attract fishermen to his resort at Mar a Lago and boost his own profits.

            9. True, but said in a context that creates an unfortunate impression, at least in the mind of a hostile press: After the sailfish story, Trump segues into a story about the movie, Jaws, where the protagonist shot a great white shark with a high-powered rifle (“a great, great thing,” says Trump, “and there are a lot of good people in this country – second amendment, NRA – Obama and Clinton wouldn’t let you shoot a shark like that — but now that I’m president you and good Americans like you will have the freedom to do that”), which leads the Times to accuse Trump of shooting sailfish and supporting people who shoot endangered great white sharks and other species of endangered fish and possibly having shot endangered fish himself and maybe even having shot endangered whales and dolphins.

            10. True in every detail, but the Times is calling it a lie anyway: The Times says the story creates the false impression that the fishing is good near Mar a Lago, which Trump is implying in order to boost profits from his resort, but the truth is that big sailfish over 7 feet long are rare in those waters and Trump’s record-setting catch was a fluke.

            The Times will be equally outraged no matter which category Trump’s story falls into. But most people who are not blinded by Trump-hatred don’t consider these lies (or “lies”) to be equally outrageous. And in any case, sane people understand that lies about catching fish really don’t matter, and the Times ought to calm down and devote its front page to something important.

            The stupid Sweden controversy seems to be a combination of 7, 9 and a bit of 5. What Trump said was this:

            “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris.”

            By the words, “last night,” Trump didn’t mean, “This happened in Sweden last night.” As in statement 7 above, he meant, “Last night, I saw a woman interviewed on Fox about Sweden.” That’s what his clarification says he meant, and I find that explanation completely plausible, since it has been widely reported that he sits around all night watching TV news, especially Fox. As in statement 9 above, the context of his statement, abutting references to places where terrorist attacks have taken place, created the unfortunate impression that he was referring to a terrorist attack in Sweden, which had not happened. And as in paragraph 5, he probably doesn’t know anything much about what’s really happening in Sweden, other than what Fox say, which he relies upon completely without checking with any of the better-informed sources readily available to him as president. Unlike the example that I gave in paragraph 5, though, Trump probably is correct this time: Sweden really does seem to have created some serious problems for itself by taking in large numbers of immigrants.

            • charlesgreen

              Ah ha ha ha ha!!!
              I have to say, I don’t agree with all this, but a damn fine bit of entertaining, and elucidating, writing.
              Well done, and thank you!

            • Chris

              The media coverage of “Donald Trump’s lies,” and most recently of the stupid Sweden controversy, conflates several different categories of statements and treats them all as being equally serious.

              Kind of like conflating several different categories of false and misleading stories into the category of “fake news.”

              I must say, Greg, your Donald Trump impression is uncanny, and you’ve completely nailed his speaking style. But I don’t think I agree that the media would treat all of those different “fish stories” as the same. And of course, it’s much more important for the president to speak clearly and honestly about acts of terror than about fish.

              And as in paragraph 5, he probably doesn’t know anything much about what’s really happening in Sweden, other than what Fox say, which he relies upon completely without checking with any of the better-informed sources readily available to him as president.

              That seems damning enough, doesn’t it? A president who refuses to stay informed should not be president.

              Trump probably is correct this time: Sweden really does seem to have created some serious problems for itself by taking in large numbers of immigrants.

              Interestingly, there was a terror attack involving refugees in Sweden last month. But it was perpetrated by a white supremacist gang, and the intended victims were refugees.

              http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/three-neo-nazi-suspected-bomb-attack-against-refugee-centres-sweden-1604686

            • Charles is right: wonderful post. Comment of the Day.

            • Margie

              That was remarkable, Greg. I think you nailed it!

  4. luckyesteeyoreman

    Jack, that little clip from “Falling Down” perfectly equates “D-Fens” (Douglas) to the was-country’s Left camps and the Left’s propcast media. Well chosen!

  5. Troy

    Jack, this post reminded me that Marcus Aurelius and Confucius both said that the first responsibility of leaders is to call things by their proper names. C.’s point was that people have a hard time facing and naming hard truths, but once the truth is out there the people more or less know the proper way to respond. The truth of his point is illustrated by your explanation of the impact Reagan’s hard truths had on the Soviet Union. Speaking hard truths was also the strategy adopted by communist dissidents like Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn, Havel, and Walesa to good effect.

    What to do when a leader speaks hard truths and falsehoods (i.e., Trump)? How does one distinguish between the two? I think Aurelius and Confucius thought that hard truths would resonate with much of the people and cut through the b.s. I wonder if Reagan’s words would have been as influential were the communist dissidents not already somewhat organized and speaking hard truths inside their regimes. Perhaps a leader cannot do it alone, but needs their words independently confirmed. If so, that would confirm your point of the danger to society of a press that puts an agenda ahead of identifying and speaking truth, and the value of . . . blogs.

  6. E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

    So many comments have already been made — with many more to come, I’m sure — that I’m just making one observation.

    On the Trump Tweet posted at the beginning of the article, I read:
    1,600 responses
    1,649 re-tweets
    5,592 “likes”

    This at 4:48 pm on February 17. So just assuming for the sake of discussion that the 1,600 responses were vitriol, the 1,649 re-tweets were ways to disseminate more vitriol, then what percentage has already gotten the message? The “likes” have it — by a significant margin — though the media — and they call Trump narcissistic — will never get or even register that message, now will they?

  7. Isaac

    It’s interesting that in the previous Trump thread, the goalpost shifted as the conversation went on. At first there were multiple people literally comparing Trump to Hitler, but eventually it was tacitly admitted that this was silly, that the REAL problem with Trump was his horrible dishonesty, un-presidential bearing and temperament, and communication style.

    It was then argued (I believe by Chris) that the above faults could still be reason enough for impeachment. This is why I still subscribe to my (adopted) theory of mass liberal cognitive dissonance. I will continue to probe my friends on the Left for more information.

    So here’s a question…if Trump’s biggest problem is that he’s a crazy old man, and he factually and objectively is not any kind of literal Hitler…why are liberals NOT willing to ride this out like good citizens, and reap the eventual benefit? Why try so hard to derail him in violent fashion, before he can screw anything up and vindicate your position?

    It’s a safe bet that the riots, protests, violent beatings of Trump supporters, and harassment of his family members is not helping. If Trump is so bad, why not actually “go high,” leave him alone (at least to the extend that previous Presidents have been left alone,) and let him fail? Then you can say, “I told you so.”

    I have my own theories about why the Left is not willing to be patient, and why it is so important for them to bring Trump down in flames YESTERDAY, by any means necessary. But I’d like to hear what they themselves have to say.

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