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Why fact-checking may be futile against Trump's black hole of lies

October 16, 2020 in Blogs

By Salon

Donald Trump has publicly lied at least 20,000 times since taking office, according to the Washington Post. He does this in part because he has shown himself to be mentally unwell, if not a sociopath. But he also lies because he is a fascist authoritarian. For such leaders, lies are a way of assaulting reality and truth as a means of achieving unlimited power. These explanations are not discrete. They overlap with one another.

In a season of massive death, Donald Trump and his regime’s lies about the coronavirus are a public health emergency – one which has killed at least 216,000 people in the United States.

Donald Trump and his regime’s lies have also severely damaged America’s prestige, alliances and global power. The country’s enemies have also been emboldened by the Trump regime’s lies and overall lack of consistency in foreign policy and principles.

Most important, Trump and his regime’s policy of lying (in conjunction with wanton cruelty and other evil) has undermined American democracy. A common understanding of reality is the foundation of a health democracy. The Trump regime’s lies and those of its agents are rotting that foundation.

In “The Death of Truth,” Michiko Kakutani explains that the damage Trump has done to the country’s institutions and foreign policy will take “years to repair.”

“And to the degree that his election was a reflection of larger dynamics in society—from the growing partisanship in politics, to the profusion of fake stories on social media, to our isolation in filter bubbles—his departure from the scene will not restore truth to health and well-being, at least not right away,” Kakutani writes.

Why is Donald Trump such a powerful and effective liar? Why has the mainstream American news media largely surrendered to his lies, and by doing so normalized them? Would more aggressive fact-checking have blunted Donald Trump and his regime’s strategy of lying? What explains why the mainstream American news media as a whole refused — and for the most part, continues to refuse — to describe Donald Trump and his regime accurately as being fascist and authoritarian?

In an effort answer these questions, I recently spoke with Eric Alterman, a columnist at The Nation and the author of more than 10 books, including the bestseller “What Liberal Media? The Truth …read more


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