The Associated Press headlines: “Trust and truth under Trump: Americans are in a quandary.” Well, the AP is, anyway:
[A] year into Donald Trump’s fact-bending, media-bashing presidency, Americans are increasingly confused about who can be trusted to tell them reliably what their government and their commander in chief are doing.
Many would say that we are a year into the liberal press’s fact-bending, Trump-bashing orgy. But that doesn’t seem to occur to the AP. This is one of those articles where the AP quotes six or eight seemingly random people from across the country. You always wonder how they come up with “truck driver Chris Gromek,” “Democrat Kathy Tibbits of Tahlequah, Oklahoma,” “Victoria Steel, 50, of Cheyenne, Wyoming,” and so on. This article’s cast of characters seems reasonably well-balanced, but the AP’s commentary isn’t. This is how the AP sees the “warping of facts.”
Though Trump’s habit of warping facts has had an impact, it’s not just him.
Is it also the AP’s, the New York Times’s and the Washington Post’s habit of warping the facts? Just kidding. That isn’t where the AP is headed.
Widely shared falsehoods have snagged the attention of world leaders such as Pope Francis and former President Barack Obama. Last year, false conspiracy theories led a North Carolina man to bring a gun into a pizza parlor in the nation’s capital, convinced that the restaurant was concealing a child prostitution ring. Just last week, after the publication of an unflattering book about Trump’s presidency, a tweet claiming that he is addicted to a TV show about gorillas went viral and prompted its apparent author to clarify that it was a joke.
That last item about the gorillas is the only one the AP mentions where “fake news” is anti-Trump or anti-conservative. This is what they want to talk about:
Trump tends to inflate the significance of what he’s done. He claims his tax cuts are the biggest in history, his accomplishments surpass those of all previous presidents, and his election victory was a “landslide.” None is true.
He still insists there were millions of illegal votes cast in the 2016 election, even though there’s no such evidence.
Even on matters existential, Trump makes things up.
Taunted on Twitter by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump responded Jan. 3 that his own nuclear button “is a much bigger and powerful one than his, and my Button works!” There is no such physical button.
The AP still believes that the rest of us thought there was an actual red button on the Oval Office desk, and that this “button” is somehow important. That is remarkably obtuse, and probably one of many reasons why so many people don’t trust the AP.
Trump often bypasses the vast information-gathering apparatus that reports to him in favor of getting his reality from TV, or sometimes just his gut. That has led him to conclude wrongly that a rare riot in Sweden over a drug crime was instead linked to refugee extremism. He also falsely claimed that Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower in the campaign.
These are actually examples of where Trump, while characteristically imprecise, was far more accurate than his critics. Refugee extremism (as well as garden-variety crime) is a huge problem in Sweden, and we know now, or think we do, that Obama’s FBI and NSA used fake news collected on behalf of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to spy on Donald Trump and others associated with his campaign. The fact that the spying was not exactly “wiretapping” is true, but trivial. Trump was right.
Like Pontius Pilate, the AP thinks it is being profound when it asks, What is truth? But isn’t this where we came in? This Time magazine cover appeared shortly after Rathergate; that is Scott in the lower left, seen from behind, in a photo taken in my house:
Competing claims to veracity have been a major part of political life for centuries, if not millennia. There is nothing new about the fact that voters have to sort out competing claims and decide what they think is right. What is somewhat new, at least in the last 15 years, is that left-wing outfits like the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS and ABC don’t have the field to themselves. It is curious to see the AP puzzling over this fact in 2018, and doing its best to associate the public’s lack of confidence in the media–“8 percent in 2016,” as the AP acknowledges–to the nefarious Donald Trump.