Trump’s ‘alternative facts’ make a sham of the truth
by Peter Weinberger
It’s no secret that politicians running for office will bend, stretch and even totally discard the truth in an effort to get elected. Unfortunately, the mud-slinging in 2016 took us to a new low. But candidate Trump is now President Trump, so I was hoping the need to focus on real issues would outweigh the need to point fingers. Guess I just underestimated our new commander in chief.
One thing that became clear from the inaugural events and news this week. President Trump was so surprised at the size of worldwide protests directed at him, he did something he’s very comfortable doing. He blasted the media.
In this case, the venom was even stronger as he declared a “running war” with the press. All this for publishing accurate numbers on the dismal crowd sizes at his inaugural events. Looks like we not only have “fake news” to deal with, but “alternate facts” direct from the White House.
This approach is unheard of for any modern American president, especially given his falsehoods were so obvious. What we all lost here was something immensely valuable to any country: credibility. No longer is disinformation used for just banana republics and dictators. There is a new player in this field, and he’s all ours.
What President Trump does not see is how aggressive use of falsehoods will hurt his own agenda. Credibility with the American public is key to his success.
And right now it’s sinking…and sinking fast. Here are some examples.
President Trump said the press created a feud between him and the intelligence community. Not true. He has repeatedly criticized it, even calling the CIA’s report on Russia “ridiculous.”
The president said of his inauguration crowd, “It looked honestly like a million and a half people, whatever it was, it was, but it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.” Many of you have seen the two photos comparing the crowd at Obama’s 2009 inauguration to the president’s last Friday. Needless to say, there’s a stark difference. The latest estimate was 1.8 million to 800,000.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer was also quick to support the president’s false claims. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period—both in person and around the globe,” he said. Did these guys look at the video? Nielsen reported that viewership in the United States for the Trump inauguration was about 25 percent less than Obama’s in 2009, and fell far short of Ronald Reagan’s record (42 million) in 1981. Online viewership mimicked that of television.
President Trump lost the popular vote by more than three million over Hillary Clinton. The new president quickly blamed the problem on unauthorized immigrants voting illegally. The truth is he actually received more Hispanic votes (28 percent) than Mitt Romney (27 percent) in 2012. If anything, the support was better than expected.
The problem with his voter fraud claims is the president has presented no evidence whatsoever. So instead of moving forward from a tough election and approving the results, the president wants to launch an investigation to support his claims. It’s an investigation that basically has already been completed finding no widespread wrongdoing.
Even Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina said it’s time “he knock it off,” adding, “This is going to erode his ability to govern the country.” You think?
It remains to be seen how or if President Trump will change his approach when dealing with the public and the press. So far, he has proved the “shoot the messenger” approach is alive and well, especially when he alters the facts.
The hard part is judging what our new president will do when the facts just don’t show him in a “winning” light. In the meantime, let’s hope the president rereads his oath of office.