- Friday, 12 July 2019 19:00
- Estonian Life No. 28 2019 - Laas Leivat
According to the Washington Post Donald Trump has told more than 10,000 lies as of the end May 2019. Some may argue that not all of these could be labelled as lies. Many would take them as exaggerations, opinions, simple misstatements, innocent ignorance of the facts, distortions of the ‘deep state’ etc.
But even by eliminating two thirds as not being lies in the strictest sense, the sheer amount is still a bewildering avalanche. Other monitoring efforts also indicate the falsifications to be in the thousands since Trump’s swearing in. Trump’s lies have nurtured a whole new business sector, the fact-finding industry which points out his misrepresentation of facts.
His ‘base’ shakes it off, attributing it to his style, a refreshingly differently approach to politics, than the stuffed shirt, elitist posturings of Washington’s political nobility and accuses Trump’s opponents of being sanctimonious hypocrites. However, even without any unbiased, scholarly research of the topic, Trump has lied much more often and viciously than any other politician. (A University of California psychologists has concluded that fully 50% of his lies are cruel.)
Trump;’s obvious disdain for his opponents to whom lying is expected, is matched by the utter contempt he has for his base, which he bamboozles with equal callousness. But the ‘base’ doesn`t seem to be concerned about being conned in the same arrogantly dismissive way.
Recent research by Media Matters has grouped four distinct lies: 505 times about immigration; 402 times about economic accomplishments; 143 times about exaggerated military spending; 127 about Trump himself being persecuted.
Media Matters also found that major media outlets regularly repeat Trump`s falsehoods on their own Twitter accounts – on average 19 times a day. Nearly one third of major media’s tweets about Trump`s remarks referenced his lies; two thirds of the time Trump`s falsehoods went unchallenged; this means that 407 times over a three week period this past spring major media amplified his dishonest or misleading claims.
In 2018 researchers at the University College London and at Princeton University reported on the increased frequency of Trump’s lies from about five falsehoods a day during his 100 first days in office to nine a day during the spring of last year. With observations of other studies they concluded that people undergo ‘emotional adaption’, reacting to their own falsehoods strongly at first with this response weakening over time.
With respect to the lack of concern his base shows for his deliberate misrepresentations, other research has shown that people adapt not only to their own dishonesty but to that of others as well. His base support certainly has not diminished.
It’s interesting to note that Trump’s base does not feel victimized. They don’t see their loyalty as deserving of the truth. Veracity, it seems isn’t important to them. They’re quite comfortable with having Trump blatantly shape their understanding of what’s hogwash and what isn’t. Truth is no longer perceived as the truth but as what Trump says is true.
Laas Leivat, Toronto