Donald Trump, Fake News, Birtherism and the Russian Ruse
On Thursday Donald Trump, after months of avoiding large press conferences gave the press over an hour of unfiltered, pure main line Trump-isms. Despite what you may have seen in clips or in shared short Youtube videos, Donald Trump was in impressive form. Defiant, but about as coherent as Trump gets, and supposedly intent on setting the record straight.
The narrative Trump is currently pedaling gives the media so much power, it’s almost shocking. Supposedly, Putin is testing the US, because the media hasn’t been nice enough to Trump and Putin can see that the mean media will never let Trump have good relations with Russia. So, his response? He won’t tell us… to clarify, he won’t tell us IF he will respond.
He also assures us that, as far as he knows, no one in his campaign or inner circle was in contact with Russia. As far as he knows. For Now. Oh, and he stipulated that was “other than” Flynn and Manafort. Of course. He also added a “very” to the front of the “fake” in “fake news”, because… I don’t know.
I truly recommend that you stomach your way through this press conference, it’s worth watching. Notice the way that Trump plays members of the press against each other. It’s also worth watching how he maneuvers and pivots through questions, deflecting whenever necessary and attacking at moments that would catch anyone by surprise. To that end, he said something that struck a nerve with me.
In discussing how divided the nation seems to be, in our current political climate where over 80% of republicans approve of his job performance, as compared to under 10% of democrats, Trump said this: “I didn’t divide this country, this country was seriously divided before I got here.” This statement struck me as odd at first… mostly because the latter part of the statement is true. The country was seriously divided before he got there… if there is the White House.
However, the statement stuck with me, and slowly it dawned on me that this- like many other statements the President makes on similar topics- completely ignores the role he has played in creating the problem he is supposedly attempting to fix. He actively sought to divide this country, and in the process helped fuel the birth of a movement, while also helping to normalize “fake news” narratives as valid. Now, he tries to pretend he had no hand in dividing the country. That’s the equivalent of dropping a bomb with a timer on it, walking away and then claiming innocence because you weren’t present when the bomb exploded.
Before the Obama election, “fake news” was essentially articles that went viral which were either tabloid level writing, so glaringly fake in nature that they were rarely taken seriously, or at worst, a very well written piece of satire, usually from The Onion, being passed around by unwitting and unsuspecting readers. However, somehow things changed during the 08 election. Fake News took on a whole new level of life from 2008–2016, and Donald Trump was instrumental in blurring the line between the real and fictitious news, to great personal gains it would seem.
in 2008 Fox News began incessantly ranting and raving about Death Panels, and secret Muslim terrorist plots to take over the US government infrastructure. Amidst all of these already scandalous and wild “fake news” stories, now pushed by a real media organization, the crown jewel of them all was conceived. With Donald Trump leading the charge, we watched as actual news organizations explored the question of whether or not a naturally born American Citizen with a very visible life record was in fact a Kenyan Muslim Terrorist.
As proof, Donald Trump spent years talking about a meticulous search for a real birth certificate. He went on, ad nauseum, about the things his “investigators” had unearthed. His tone then, implying that his access to information- thanks to his large wealth and success- should be sufficient proof of validity. None of these documents ever surfaced, he slowly backed away from the claim, until finally, and sheepishly -like a spineless coward forced to admit their own weakness- he stated that Obama was born in America.
Now, with the same confidence, conviction and bluster that he proclaimed Obama a Secret Kenyan Muslim, Trump claimed that his Electoral College victory was the largest since Reagan. He was finally rebuffed on it, and once again -like the spineless, weasely, coward that he is- admitted that he was wrong, then excused himself by saying, “someone gave me those numbers.” Finally, after this strong show of credibility he once more shamed the media, for what he called a “ruse”. Russia is a ruse he says. And the news is fake.
He knows, because he gets briefed on the truth, and the news reports lie about the things he sees, he claims. Not about the content of conversations… or the fact that people are leaking accurate information… Those things are true. Somehow, reporting on them however makes them fake. What I find fascinating is that Donald Trump- who used his influence in the media, and his cozy relationship with billionaires to bully his fake news narrative of a falsified birth certificate onto the national stage, then literally used that fake news narrative to launch his political career- is now supposedly decrying fake news while actively sending out Tweets rife with fake information, and having his surrogates literally lie on national television about things that never happened. Were it not for his profiting from financial loopholes, and media influence -both problems he claims to want to fix- he’d just be someone’s senile grandfather, who watches Fox News all day and all night. Instead, he’s the Liar in Chief, and we have to maintain constant watch… in case he “forgets” which button goes to the DVR, and which goes to the Nuclear Codes.