Trumpists Claim They’re Winning War on Covid-19
I studied journalism, public relations and media in college. Public relations is based on propaganda. The founder of the PR movement was Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud. After developing psychological warfare techniques in World War I, he took his efforts to Madison Avenue and thus birthed public relations, which is a mix of psychology, advertising and journalism.
The Nazis were also masters at propaganda. The quote “If you tell a lie enough times, it becomes the truth,” has been attributed to Adolph Hitler. And that’s the scary thing about propaganda, you can make people believe anything. I often tell people that if you gave me a $20,0000per month PR contract, I could make you believe the Devil is Mother Teresa.
A long time ago, I identified that FOX News was also using the same tactics as the Nazis. So I wasn’t totally surprised when I read in Gabriel Sherman’s, “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” that former FOX News head honcho Roger Ailes had also studied Nazi propaganda tactics.
Getting People to Believe Lies
The repetition of lies is how you get people still believing President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Right-wing media has repeated it a million times, so it’s stuck in people’s minds. And they’ll still believe it, no matter how much rock, solid information they have. It’s become a zombie lie that refuses to die.
The Nazis were also masters at propaganda. The quote “If you tell a lie enough times, it becomes the truth,” has been attributed to Adolph Hitler. And that’s the scary thing about propaganda, you can make people believe anything. I often tell people that if you gave me a $20,000 per month PR contract, I could make you believe the Devil is Mother Teresa.
President Donald Trump, a skilled media manipulator, also recognized this and built his political career on the ridiculous birther lie. I suspect that like former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, he knew it was a lie, but it played well with Republican crowds. Birtherism tied into their racist hatred of everything about Barack Hussein Obama.
But even before his birther stunt, Trump relied on propaganda. He’s used it to convince investors to lend him billions of dollars, which he often failed to pay back. He also used it to convince buyers to purchase his properties, which often turned into poor investments.
Along with reality show producer Mark Burnett he managed to BS a lot of Americans into believing he was a successful tycoon who could run the country. (At the beginning of “The Apprentice” he was so broke, producers had to install new furniture to spruce up his office, according to comedian Noel Casler.)
Trump used the success of “The Apprentice” to con enough Americans into making him president. And see how that’s turned out? Massive corruption, hourly scandals, 90,000 dead Americans and now the nation is an international laughing stock.
Winning the War on Covid-19
But Trump is sticking to his age-old formula with the coronavirus pandemic. He thinks he can BS his way out of this. And he’s been doing this since the outbreak of the disease. Even though he received multiple warnings about the disease, in February he called it a hoax and claimed it would go away.
Three months later and with thousands of fatalities, the Trump administration seems to have decided that it can convince Americans it won the war on Covid-19 by snowing them with lies.
Here are a few disturbing examples. According to MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, the Trump administration is contracting with an outside firm to gather coronavirus data. But this task is already handled by the Center for Disease Control. Trumpistas have already pushed out the false narrative that hospitals are inflating the death toll. Unfortunately, many MAGA cultists have already lapped this up.
Media Matters did a deep dive into the effects of FOX News frequently repeating this unproven rumor.
“A poll conducted mid-April showed that a plurality of Fox viewers — 45% of frequent viewers and 37% of occasional viewers — believe that fewer Americans have died of COVID-19 than official reports say. The poll also found that a majority of Americans who never watch Fox, 59%, say more people have died than reported — a clear indicator that Fox’s misinformation is wrongly convincing viewers that the COVID-19 death toll has been inflated,” said Media Matters in a May 13 article.
However, back on Earth 1, many medical experts believe the disease’s death toll is undercounted. This idea makes a lot more sense since we still haven’t accounted for people who may have died at home while they were on lockdown.
Faking the Facts
Florida is another example of how right-wingers are trying to create an alternative reality about the coronavirus. Florida scientist Rebekah Jones claims she was fired after she refused to provide false data about the coronavirus.
“After FLORIDA TODAY first reported Jones’ removal from her position in charge of the Florida COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard she created, she confirmed, as reported by CBS-12 in West Palm Beach that she was fired because she was ordered to censor some data, but refused to ‘manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen’,” according to a May 15 Florida Today article.
The same situation occurred in Georgia, where the state put out figures that had obviously been altered, according to a May 18 Washington Post article.
“The dates had been re-sorted to create the illusion of a decline. The five counties were likewise re-sorted on each day to enhance the illusion,” said Dana Milbank.
Trump and his supporters are obviously trying to promote the idea that they’re winning the war on Covid-19. This isn’t public relations, it’s veered into the field of perception management when you try to get people to believe a false event.
However, you can’t fight Mother Nature. She has a nasty habit of bringing humankind to its knees and reminding them who’s in charge. My brother pointed out that Hitler realized he couldn’t beat the forces of nature when his troops got bogged down during an invasion of Russia — in the middle of winter. (Even the Russians don’t like the Russian winter.)
Trump’s going to face the same fate in his PR war against Covid-19. People won’t believe the war is over if the death toll keeps rising. He’s going to realize that pissing in the wind, only makes him wet.