Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

President Trump's "Fake News" Weak Sauce

There's something really stupid about President Trump' latest iteration of the "fake news" war cry--he's not actually the straightest shooter in the rifle cabinet. Just take a look at the two Time magazine covers in the above pic. The one on the right is an authentic Time cover, which depicts an orange-hued cartoon Trump with his yawp barbarically open in the process of a "meltdown". The one on the left, however, is a mock-up featuring an air-brushy Trump photo and snippets of The Apprentice television show puffery, which was copied, framed and hung at several of Trump's golf resorts. The melty Trump is the real news version. The puffery is fake, and yet, it is the version of Trump that he wants people to see. So, fake or not, it's the one he (or the toadies and yes-entities under him) run with.

This is par, to use an apt metaphor, for Trump's particular course. Trump is no stranger to using fake news and celebrity to self-promote for gain. He really has used fake news considerably to advance himself--I mean, he made his mark with the "birther" nonsense, right? And promoted the sick idea that Ted Cruz's dad helped assassinate President Kennedy. He's been entirely open about his admiration for The National Enquirer and Infowars, which are not, strictly speaking truly great and reliable news sources, and is literally a political entity today in large part because of the efforts of Breitbart and Fox News

His war against the media has been duly noted, but it should be also noted that there have been outlets that have been extraordinarily solicitous of him. Among some of Trump's followers, though (and I don't mind calling them followers--there are supporters, who are just regular conservatives or Republicans who hope he does ok, and then there's the cultists for whom Daddy can do no wrong), the war on "fake news" includes violence ideation on mainstream media whilst actually being a consumer of literal fake news.

It's no wonder, then, that Trump's insistence on rejecting stories that don't flatter him with the cry of "fake news" entered Tuesday's press briefing, with some vociferous pushback from Brian Karem (May his Twitter followers increase and his reputation grow from this day on!) But what is uniquely galling about the briefing was that, after calling out "fake news", Sarah Huckabee Sanders invited people to check out Project Veritas' (James O'Keefe's) latest thing to try and debunk all of CNN. An edited taped talk with a CNN health producer who doesn't cover politics.

I don't know how you decry fake news with one breath, then advertise James O'Keefe with the next, but this is a pretty special administration, and they do special things. I do know that O'Keefe's relationship with CNN is probably weird.  Also, yeah. O'Keefe.

This president has been trying to play fast and loose with the idea of what "real" is. He's been trying it out with his "leaks are real, news is fake" line, by which he implies that leaks of inside information should be stopped (by plumbers, one wonders?) and yet, somehow, once this inside true info is filtered to the various news outlets, it somehow becomes made-up--I still aver one can not have this both ways: it's either made-up, or a leak!

But what I think what Trump and his folks have done is create a lot of smoke to try and obscure real news, and if there wasn't already hints of fire, this smoke is quite alarming.  But if Trump wants to use"fake news" to wave away the Russia investigation, it remains that two congressional investigations, an FBI probe, a special prosecutor, and the consensus of the US intelligence community are not about the news media or ratings, and are completely real. And even if one story here or there needs to be retracted for sourcing reasons, this does not invalidate all that has come before--in fact, what CNN has done by owning up to an error and accepting the resignations of three journalists is called accountability--and wouldn't I just love to see Trump and Co held to the same standard of "tell the truth or leave" as the media, the much maligned media, just displayed?

Trump's whinge, now filtered through his press office and the surrogates talking him up on Fox News, about biased fake media, aren't anything new. But they are far off the mark, and maybe transparently so. It pains me to see well-respected people like Brit Hume and Sean Hannity undermine their credibility in his dubious service (I am half-kidding, but I leave to my reader to determine the extent of my jest).

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