Fake truth and alternative facts

By Reade Brower | Jul 27, 2017

“We take our colors, chameleon-like, from each other.”

--- Nicolas de Chamfort, writer (1741-1794)


Leaders come, leaders go. Their effectiveness is “in the eye of the beholder,” and the people they serve become final judge and jury.

Our country is being led by President Donald Trump, while our state leader is Gov. Paul LePage.

They share a similar style: brash, tell-it-like-it-is, rile up their political base and bully those who don’t agree by calling them names, humiliating them with words and debasing them with whatever ammo is at their disposal.

Both have proven that, for now, their style is not without merit: our governor won re-election and our president won in a stunning upset last November over his Democratic rival.

Both men have created mantras that bash their enemies, including the mainstream press, which they both seem to see as enemy number 1. They wage a continuing assault about how unfair the media is, complaining that they are constantly under attack for what they say and what they do.

They are quick to point out when the media get something wrong and the word “watchdog” to describe the media is laughable to them and their supporters. The constant mantra of “fake news” continues, unabated, over and over – the theory is that if you say something enough, people will believe it to be true – whether it is or isn’t becomes immaterial.

I see it a little differently; I understand the media sometimes overstep boundaries, but for the most part, they report on what our leaders say and do, on what is.

Accountability is a two-way street, as is the “fake news” mantra.

What about fake truth and alternative facts? Kellyanne Conway’s statement about alternative facts raised eyebrows. Photos of the Obama crowd at his inauguration compared to the crowds at Trump’s inauguration show one thing – alternative facts apparently make the photos irrelevant in the eyes and tweets of Trump.

Clinton's winning the popular vote by 3 million is part of the fake truth; it is a fact, but somehow Trump does not accept it as so what is it – fake truth?

In my generation, they called it “double-speak” when a person said one thing one day and another the next. This is being refined, redefined and brought to a new level.

Recently, Trump went on a tweeting rant, sharing his frustration with the American people about the Republican-led Senate’s lack of ability to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Trump was insisting that his loyalists let Obamacare flame out, but was specific in declaring that Republicans would not "own" an implosion of Obamacare after the Senate's failure to act last week.

However, in 2013 he said the opposite when he tweeted “NO GAMES! HOUSE @GOP MUST DEFUND OBAMACARE! IF THEY DON’T, THEN THEY OWN IT!”

Both tweets were his own words, spoken by his own fingers. Fake truth -- contradictory statements meant to confuse the issues, meant to disorient the public, meant to alter the story to meet today’s purpose.

The danger isn’t “fake news,” the danger is “fake truth” and “alternative facts.”

Fake truth and alternative facts – how do they relate to the Trump definition of loyalty? Is loyalty a one-way street called Trump? Apparently so, based on the change of direction with first Comey, and now Sessions (first praising their abilities and integrity, followed by just the opposite when the president didn’t like something they said or did).

"Working at the pleasure of the president" seems like a contradiction in terms -- who could enjoy working for Trump?

The danger isn’t the mainstream news media reporting on what our president and governor are doing and saying; the danger is their attempts to muzzle and discredit the press for the sole purpose of controlling the storyline.

Sean Spicer’s recent resignation and Trump’s recent threats to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, along with his throwing his hand-picked attorney general, Jeff Sessions, under the bus for recusing himself from the Russian investigation, become more “fake truth” – Trump trying to convince the American public that what was good is now bad, and what was bad is now good. This will continue to work with his solid base, but the boat he’s on is taking on water and unless he fixes the holes with good old-fashioned “truth and nothing but the truth,” the ship will continue to sink.

The question is: if the ship continues to take on water (the ship is a metaphor for Russian interference investigation, his taxes, the implosion of his health care initiative, his loyalists deserting him or being fired), will our president go down with the ship as a good captain would, or should we expect him to pardon himself and continue to throw his minions under the proverbial bus?

If history is a precursor, one might guess the latter.

Reade Brower can be reached at: reade@freepressonline.com

Disclosure: Reade Brower is owner of these newspapers. The opinions expressed in his columns are his own, and do not represent those of the newspapers, or their editorial boards.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Jul 27, 2017 11:01

"George W. Bush had the War on Terror.  Donald Trump has the War on Truth.

In the past  month, the last few scientists have exited the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) Science Division. The OSTP is staffed at approximately a third of the level it was during the Obama administration; President Trump has yet to name a head of the office. Last week, the State Department’s top science and technology adviser, Vaughan Turekian, resigned amid a swirl of rumors that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was planning on shuttering his entire science and tech operation. There have been a number of non-scientist appointments in posts with major scientific elements, including the appointment of Samuel Clovis to be undersecretary in charge of the Agriculture Department’s research, education and economic efforts. Clovis, who has virtually no science background, will oversee efforts on vital issues ranging from the spread of diseases to the effects of pesticides.

As giant chunks of Antarctica snap off the continent’s ice pack and weather patterns continue to confirm the conclusions of 97 percent of the scientific community that anthropogenic climate change is real, Trump has surrounded himself with people such as Clovis and Pruitt who simply disregard the facts, putting all of us at risk."

-David Rothkopf, author of “The Great Questions of Tomorrow," and visiting professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Jul 27, 2017 07:15

"Trump has somehow managed to weaponize gibberish and tortured syntax, creating chaos all around him with one of his most frequently-wielded tools: consummate drivel...  He’s like a Jabberwocky terrorist...  His ability to drown out reason with a steady, pernicious flow of babble and blather effectively demoralizes everyone within earshot. He brandishes nonsense like a flamethrower, basically torching his listeners with an unstoppable barrage of disconcerting and creepy, cryptic crap."

-Lori Fryd, Contributor

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