Trump’s Not Just At War with Media, He’s Also Fighting Objective Truth
If you ever talked to a Trump supporter it’s not hard to understand why they believe in ridiculous conspiracy theories like QAnon. QAnon is the latest right-wing conspiracy theory. It involves a worldwide cabal of pedophiles, including President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Tom Hanks. And to add more crazy into the mix, QAnon followers also believe Trump is working with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to bring down the conspiracy. And QAnon himself is suspected to be JFK Jr., who faked his death.
I’ve been to a Trump rally and heard Orly Taitz, the woman who was determined to prove Obama had faked his birth certificate, recite such nonsense. She claimed that Obama was using the social security number of a person born in the 19th century, even though they didn’t have social security numbers back then. As I stood there, I asked myself the rhetorical question, “How can they believe this crap?”
It’s because they live in a hermetically-sealed universe. They get their news from right-wing AM radio, FOX News and neo-fascist websites like Breitbart. Any other outlet has branded “the liberal media” or more recently “fake news.”
But there is a method to the madness behind the fake news label. Trump wants his fanatical followers to believe everything he says, and discount anything said by the mainstream media.
This is disturbing on several levels. Firstly, it’s a cult technique, I’ve read enough books and watched enough documentaries on cults to recognize their tactics. One of their first tactics is getting their initiates to believe everything the cult’s charismatic leader says. (Trump has told his reporters not to believe what the press is reporting.)
That’s how Jim Jones got close to 1,000 people to commit suicide, it’s how David Koresh got his followers to let themselves get consumed by fire and it’s also how Marshall Applewhite, founder of the Heaven’s Gate UFO cult, got his followers to castrate themselves and eventually commit mass suicide.
Relying on Trump as your only source of information is a bad idea. According to the Washington Post study, he’s told about 4,200 lies since he entered the White House. That’s an average of 7.6 lies per day.
But Trump lies for a reason. He’s using a Nazi tactic. They believed that if you repeat a lie enough times it becomes the truth. Like many people in America, I underestimated Trump. His governing and diplomatic skills are a disaster, (his White House has a 34 percent turnover rate, which is an objective indicator of an organization in chaos.) However, Trump is a master media manipulator. Apart from using the big lie technique and frequent repetition, he also uses a psychological technique called “gaslighting.” (This was a term I had to learn about.)
Gaslighting is a technique used by abusers and torturers where they get their victims to believe their lies. In short, they know they’re lying, but they want their victims to believe the lies.
This situation happened in an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where Captain Jean-Luc Picard is captured by the Cardassians. Picard’s tormentor shows him four lights, but won’t stop torturing him until he says there are five lights there. At the end of the episode, Picard said that he began to see five lights.
Trump lies incessantly because he wants his followers to believe him. That’s also why he calls the media fake, because they’re trying to report the truth. But Trump supporters have convinced themselves that the New York Times and CNN, which are the gold standards of American journalism, are fake, and Trump, the most dishonest president in modern history is telling the truth!
And what are the outlets the president likes? FOX News, arguably the worst station in history. This week they ran a picture of Patti Labelle in a story about the death of Aretha Franklin! A 2012 Fairleigh Dickinson University study showed that regular FOX News viewers actually knew less about current events than people who didn’t watch any news at all. According to the study, most FOX News viewers still believed that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 9/11 plot, which is simply not true. Is it any wonder that some Republicans still believe Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim?
Trump is not only at war with the news media, he’s at war with objective reality. At this stage, Trump could convince his supporters that the sun comes out at night, and it’s dark during the day and they would believe him. And they also believe that he didn’t work with the Russians to win the 2016 elections, even though there is a mountain of evidence from intelligence analysts, journalists, computer specialists and even the Russian media and government, proving this! God help us.