Robert Reich writes, “Conservative talk-show hosts, right-wing media, and Trump himself are on a campaign to discredit traditional sources of facts and analysis – scientists, economists, criminologists, government data, and mainstream media -- and substitute their preferred reality.”
Reich offers some examples:
1. The CIA and FBI say Russia interfered with the election to benefit Trump. But Trump disagrees. And Breitbart News (until recently under the watch of Trump’s strategic advisor Steven Bennan) dismisses the CIA report as “left-wing fake news.”
2. Almost all scientists agree climate change is real and is caused by humans. But Trump disagrees. And so does Scott Pruitt, his nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
3. The F.B.I. and virtually all criminologists agree that the rate of homicides in the U.S. has plummeted in recent years. But Trump says it’s soared. So does Fox News.
4. Most health policy analysts agree that Medicare’s costs are rising both because the costs of health care are rising and the American population is aging. But Paul Ryan and many Republicans in Congress say Medicare itself is to blame.
5. Government data show the rate of illegal immigration has declined sharply over the last ten years, and that undocumented immigrants commit proportionately fewer crimes than native-born Americans. But Trump claims the opposite is true, and both Breitbart and Fox News agree with Trump.
6. Most economists and policy analysts don’t think that tax cuts to the rich result in better wages for most people. But Trump’s economic advisers contend otherwise.
“On almost every major issue to be addressed over the next few years, Trump and the rightwing media are already feeding Americans big lies, and trying to discredit traditional sources of truth.” When Americans accept what is clearly false as fact, “[it] poses one of the greatest threats to our democracy.”
Trump “. . . doesn’t try to get it right. He doesn’t assume that people care about the truth or that the truth is important. He will repeat blatant untruths (e.g. Arab Americans celebrated after 9/11, President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, he won by a landslide, we don’t know whether Russia hacked us), and then try to bully those who dispute him. Rather than engage on the facts, Trump insults, demeans and bullies the messenger. Critical voices — even “Saturday Night Live” — are, in his view, “losing” business (even when they are not), because for Trump, financial success makes one good and truthful while financial distress means one is bad and a liar.”
Wielding Claims of ‘Fake News,’ Conservatives Take Aim at Mainstream Media