In this blog I’ve promised to expose propaganda as we come across it – although frankly, there is too much propaganda coming out of the Trump White House than one poor blogger can keep up with. For that would be a full-time job, and I’m not paid to blog. But I did think it would be worth it to at least look at the question of why the Trump administration made the unfounded allegation a couple of weeks back that the news media was not covering terrorist attacks.
For those who forget, Donald Trump alleged in a speech before American veterans during the first week of February that terror attacks are happening ‘all over Europe’ but they’re not being covered by the ‘very, very dishonest press.’ After which his spokesman Sean Spicer released a list of 78 terror attacks since 2014 that the press allegedly had not covered.
It turned out – and I know this comes as a shock – that the very, very dishonest Trump administration was totally lying about the press coverage that allegedly did not happen. First of all, the list included not just terror attacks in Europe but attacks in the Americas, Africa and other countries and continents around the world. It also included incidents in which no one was killed. But most importantly, as noted by Politifact, the ‘list includes widely covered incidents’ such as the ones in Paris and Brussels and Berlin and Orlando and San Bernadino, incidents which arguably received too much coverage rather than too little coverage.
Trump subsequently made another claim, in front of a group of Sheriffs meeting at the White House, that the murder rate was ‘the highest it’s been in 47 years,’ which is another ‘pants on fire’ lie. As once again reported by Politifact, ‘the number of murders declined by 42 percent between 1993 and 2014, even as the U.S. population rose by 25 percent over the same period.’
So why would the Trump administration come out with these obvious and easily disprovable lies?
And the answer, of course, is to scare us all to death.
Ever since before the Republican National Convention, but especially since it, Trump and his minions have been pushing this dark, dark narrative that our country is on the verge of disaster and that ‘only Trump’ can fix it.
It’s the same reason that the media focuses so much more on the danger from sharks than we do from cows. We have a visceral reaction to sharks. But not cows. It turns out, however, that cows kill roughly five times as many people annually as do sharks. The numbers are something like this:
- Sharks kill roughly 5 people a year;
- Cows kill roughly 22 people a year;
- Hippos kill roughly 2900 people a year;
- Mosquitos kill roughly 725,000 people a year.
But if a shark is found swimming anywhere near a public beach, our media is all over it. And we’re all agog.
It’s this appeal to visceral fear (among other things) that motivates the Trump administration to lie without compunction about things that they clearly know are false.
Now, if the Trump administration were good liars, we would really be in trouble. But they’re such inept, obvious, terrible liars. They keep lying about things that are so easily disprovable. Trump himself is still clearly still fixated on the size of his election victory, and makes claims like:
- That 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the November Presidential election (and that they all voted for Hillary).
- More recently, that ‘busloads’ of Massachusetts were driven up to New Hampshire to vote illegally in that state.
- And at his crazy Thursday press conference last week, that he won the biggest electoral college landslide since Ronald Reagan.
The British Tabloid ‘The Star’ has identified 57 lies by the Trump administration just in the first three weeks of their existence. Even Teen Vogue got into the act by identifying all the lies told by the Trump administration just last week.
Yes, Teen Vogue!
Trump’s complete aversion to the truth was on full display last Thursday at his indescribable press conference. The one where he was supposed to announce the nomination of Alexander Acosta, the Dean of Florida International University College of Law, for the post of Secretary of Labor. This press conference devolved into more than an hour of ranting on Trump’s part, where among other things, he claimed that:
- That his administration’s implementation of his anti-terrorism executive order, ‘was perfect.’
- That the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously decided not to reinstate Trump’s travel ban, has had its rulings overturned by the Supreme Court ‘at a record number.’
- That Hillary Clinton ‘gave’ Russia 20 percent of the uranium in the United States.
- That ‘jobs have already started to surge’ since his election (citing investments by Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Intel).
- That there was no press coverage of the fact that Hillary received some questions prior to one of the debates from former CNN contributor Donna Brazile.
- That the media had ‘a lower approval rate than Congress.’
All of these things turned out to be not true. They have all been debunked by both Factcheck.org and Politifact.com, as well as the ‘failing’ New York Times and Washington Post (among other legitimate news sources).
These are just the items that can be fact checked. Some of Trump’s other claims were truly ludicrous (although technically a matter of opinion). For example:
- Trump claimed that ‘there’s never been a President elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done.’
- Trump claimed that his Administration is running ‘like a fine-tuned machine,’ despite ‘the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved.’
Now, whether Trump’s administration is running like a ‘fine-tuned machine’ is, of course, a matter of opinion. The opinion of virtually all observers who don’t work directly for the administration, whether Democrat, Republican or something else, was that the administration is a managerial disaster zone in which almost everyone is jockeying for power.
But the most incredible exchange of all was with a Jewish reporter (Jake Turx) from the hitherto unknown ‘Ami Magazine,’ which exchange is set forth below. Trump is looking for a ‘friendly reporter’ and calls upon Mr. Turx, who says this:
‘Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zayde,’ which is Yiddish for ‘grandfather’ and often a word of great affection.
At that Mr. Trump nodded slightly, and said, ‘thank you.’
‘However,’ Mr. Turx continued, ‘what we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to——’
At that, Mr. Trump interrupted, saying it was ‘not a fair question.’
‘Sit down,’ the president commanded. ‘I understand the rest of your question.’
As Mr. Turx took his seat, Mr. Trump said, ‘So here’s the story, folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.’
Mr. Turx tried to interject, realizing how the encounter had turned. He said he had wanted to clarify that he in no way meant to accuse Mr. Trump of anti-Semitism but instead intended to ask what his administration could do to stop the anti-Semitic incidents.
But Mr. Trump would not let him speak again, saying, ‘Quiet, quiet, quiet.’ As Mr. Turx shook his head with an incredulous look on his face, Mr. Trump accused him of having lied that his question would be straight and simple.
Mr. Trump said, ‘I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me. …’
He went on to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, during his visit to the United States on Wednesday, had vouched for Mr. Trump as a good friend of Israel and the Jewish people and no anti-Semite.
Mr. Trump concluded that Mr. Turx should have relied on Mr. Netanyahu’s endorsement, ‘instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.’
‘Just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is,’ Mr. Trump said.
As noted in the New York Times, it was ‘the second time in two days that Mr. Trump was asked to denounce anti-Semitism and offer American Jews a dose of reassurance. In his joint news conference with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Trump responded to a question about anti-Semitism by breezily recounting the size of his Electoral College victory and then reminding the reporters that his daughter, Ivanka, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and their three children — Mr. Trump’s grandchildren — are all Jewish.’
So, Trump literally said that he was the ‘least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.’ And the ‘least racist’ person. This was in the same news conference in which he requested April Ryan, the White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, to ‘set up a meeting’ with the Congressional Black Caucus when she asked him a question about whether he was planning to meet with the caucus.
For those who’ve forgotten, in the Second Presidential Debate with Hillary Clinton, the Donald also proclaimed that ‘Nobody has more respect for women than I do.’
Then, in his completely unnecessary rally in Melbourne Florida on Friday Trump invented another non-existent scandal, just like the ‘Bowling Green Massacre.’ This time something terrible was supposed to have taken place in Sweden, except the Swedes knew nothing about it. Cue another meme. It turns out that Trump had heard some story on Fox News that claimed that things were not going well in Sweden. There is where President Obergropenführer is getting his information: from Fox News.
People used to argue that liberals took Trump literally but not seriously and conservatives took him seriously but not literally. Now that he’s President, we’re supposed to take him both literally and seriously.
How can anyone take this guy literally? And what do our conservative friends think when they hear something like this, something which only a literal imbecile would take to be true?
By now, it’s completely obvious the Trump is not at war with the Democrats or even with the media, but more simply with the truth. This has been pointed out by commentators who are cleverer than I am, such as John Oliver and his team at HBO.
 To be fair, Politifact also reported that there was a bit of an upward spike between 2014 and 2015 in the national rate, and that there has been a spike in some cities, especially Chicago (which is a special case having to do with the police essentially abandoning the inner city because they felt unfairly attacked after the Laquan McDonald case.)
 We are on the verge of potential disaster, of course, but primarily because of the Trump administration, which is unhinged in so many ways.
 Sometimes the claim has been that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, and sometimes it’s been that 3 to 5 million illegal immigrants voted, but in any case, in either scenario Trump believes that they all voted for Hillary.
 When challenged on this clearly erroneous statement – since Obama, Bill Clinton and Bush I all had won bigger election victories – Trump asserted that this was the ‘information [he] was given.’
 It was so crazy that Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino, the home page of the New York Post, and Fox News’s Shepard Smith respectively described the press conference as ‘insane,’ a ‘marathon rant’ and ‘a press conference for the ages.’ And these are not in any respect ‘liberal’ news sources.
 This proclamation on Trump’s part literally got the majority of the crowd at the second debate to laugh out loud.