In an interview segment following a series of film revealing Trump surrounded by his appointed teams and republicans who support him unqualifiedly or at rallies, or with foreign gov't officials, telling all sorts of lies, citing some of his tweets, Judy Woodruff hosted a talk between three people who talked of what this means: an assault on common reality prevents all effective action against tyranny. He is erasing common ground.
The segment can be watched here:https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/whats-happened-to-the-truth-under-president-trump
You can listen to it here:https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/whats-happened-to-the-truth-under-president-trump#audio
As I listened and (on the PBS site)( watched I remembered President Obama's comment at a South African memorial service for Nelson Mandela where he said you cannot negotiate with a man who when presented with a lecture says it's an elephant.
I plucked out the transcript where Peter Wehner discussed what is happening to truth and reality in the US today:
Judy asked Peter Wehner what is different from previous administation's games with truth, mislead people, tell lies at times
and Peter Whener who worked for three previous Republican administrations:
Well, what’s different is that we don’t have a run-of-the-mill liar in the White House. We have a pathological liar.
This is a man who lies on personal matters, political matters, domestic, international. He lies morning, noon, and night. And it just is never — never-ending. So that’s one thing. We have never had a president who is so pathologically — lies so pathologically, and lies needlessly often. That’s one.
The other thing is the number of people in this country who believe in the lies, who have accepted them. This has tremendous damaging effects on the political and civic culture of the country. A self-governing nation can’t run if you can’t have a common set of facts, if you can’t agree on common realities.
What you have got is a man in the White House who is engaged in not just an assault on truth, but an effort to annihilate truth.
It’s true. It’s not just the lies. It’s that he’s trying to destroy the categories of truth and falsity.
And that’s really why he goes after the media, right, because the media has always been the institution in American life that has kept presidents accountable when it comes to what’s true and what’s not. And he knew from the outside of his presidency that he had to delegitimize the media, so he could get away with this kind of thing.
And this has an enormous seepage effect in the life of a country.
Pete Wehner, as we look back over the last year-and-a-half of the president in office, are there moments, are there statements of — where something wasn’t borne out by evidence that you think in particular stand out?
Yes, there are several. I mean, there’s so many, it’s hard to — I would say the Charlottesville event was very important, when he said that there were good people on both sides.
I think the attacks on the Mueller investigation are extremely important, because this is an investigation trying to discern truth, and he’s trying to destroy it. The one where he said that Hillary Clinton one because three million illegal votes were cast.
I will tell you one that might strike people as trivial, but I think, in retrospect, was extremely important, that was the original lie at the dawn of the presidency of Donald Trump. And that was the crowd size, when he insisted and sent his press secretary out to insist it was larger than Barack Obama’s.
In one sense, people will say this is a trivial matter. What is it? Who cares?
The reason it mattered is that this was right out of the box, not just a lie, but it was an assault on empirical, demonstrable facts. There were pictures that showed the difference.
And that was the tell, as they say, in poker. That said that this guy was something different. He was going to go after truth in a way. And it’s been a sustained, relentless assault on truth.
Pete Wehner, finally, what does this mean for our democracy? People talk about a democracy is built on a foundation of accepted truths, reality.
What is this doing?
It is hurting democracy. It’s weakening the foundations.
And that’s why people have to stand up and speak out. Democracy is about persuasion, right, not coercion. And you can’t persuade people if you can’t agree on facts, you can’t even agree on common problems.
Beyond that, when you enter this realm, it deepens polarization, it deepens the sense of political tribalism. All of the anger, all of the divisions are made worse.
But I would say a couple of things. Viruses create their own antibodies. And the public can do something about this. You can do it in your individual lives. People can do it in social media. They can make a commitment not to put party loyalties ahead of the truth when they’re in conflict.
They can vote against…
I think you are starting to get a reaction. I’m sure you’re getting a reaction against it, because people understand both the disorienting effect of this — that’s one thing
But there’s something else going on as well, which is everybody knows in your individual life you can’t live if you don’t have a common understanding of truth. And that’s true in a national life as well.
I think Donald Trump, the effect of all of this is exhausting on the public. I think they’re embarrassed, as was said earlier. And I think they’re ashamed of what’s happening. And I think there will be in 2020 and maybe in 2018 a reaction against.
This is not as if America has a terminal disease and nothing can be done. Individual lives matter. If one person does something, it may not, but if a lot of people act together, you can change the political and civic culture. That’s happened before, and it can happen again.
I was prompted to try to share and (I hope) help distribute this news program when I read Trump's statement at a rally directed at the representatives of the news media there to report on the event:
"What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what is happening." Disbelieve all tapes and visual photos and films where you see Trump behaving like a crook, liar, trying to repress all news about his criminal behavior to all sorts of people, his treasonable behavior over his income since he's been president, things he's done that under the constitution break the law and undermine the US republic, while attacking groups of people he deems his enemies, or simply don't vote for him, who his economic and social policies are intended to hurt or destroy.
Posted by Miss Drake