Most people would hesitate before telling easily disprovable
lies like these, much as shoplifters would hesitate if the store
owner is looking at them. Most people are fazed if caught in an
outright lie. But in these cases and others, Trump never blinked.
As part of his indispensable campaign coverage this summer, David
Fahrenthold (and Robert O’Harrow) of The Washington Post offered
an astonishing documentation of Trump being caught in a long
string of business-related lies and simply not caring.
The news media are not built for someone like this.
Our journalistic and political assumption is that each side to a
debate will “try” to tell the truth — and will count it as a
setback if they’re caught making things up. Until now the idea has
been that if you can show a contrast between words and actions,
claim and reality, it may not bring the politician down, but it
will hurt. For instance: Bill Clinton survived “I did not have
sexual relations with that woman,” but he was damaged then, and
lastingly, when the truth came out. To close the loop, knowledge
of the risks of being caught has encouraged most politicians to
minimize provable lies.
None of this works with Donald Trump. He doesn’t care, and at
least so far the institutional GOP hasn’t either.
How can the press gird for action? Here are three early
indications from the news.
A very good read, including this note from one of Fallows’s readers, on dealing with a narcissist:
The Times got in trouble by trying to make sense of his words.
It’s an easy mistake for people in a word-saturated medium to
make, but anyone who’s dealt with a narcissist knows you never,
ever believe what they say — because they will say whatever the
person they are talking to wants to hear. DT is a master at
phrasing things vaguely enough that multiple listeners will be
able to hear exactly what they want. It isn’t word salad; it’s
overt deception, which is much more pernicious.
But the Times fell for it. I’m watching the same mistake get made
over and over again, but I don’t know how to help journalists get
out of the trap. If we are going to survive the days ahead,
someone needs to teach reporters the difference between naming
narcissism vs. dealing effectively with a narcissist.
Case in point, The New York Times staff seemed buoyed by Trump’s claim during his interview that he would keep “an open mind” about “pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.” It was bullshit. He was simply telling The Times staff what they wanted to hear.
★ Monday, 28 November 2016