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Monday, October 19, 2020

The Firehose of Falsehood

Vladimir Putin & Donald Trump in Helsinki, 16 July 2018 (10) Trump isn't nuts, he's trying to make you nuts, writes Mark Follman at Mother Jones.  Excerpt:

Trump may well be a dangerous psychopath, but he isn’t crazy. He doesn’t spread lunatic conspiracy theories because he believes them. Not for a moment does he actually think that Joe Biden secretly arranged the murder of Navy SEALs in a scheme to stage the takedown of Osama bin Laden. When Trump shared those claims recently on Twitter, his motivation was, as always, to provoke, entertain, confuse, “trigger the libs,” and change the subject from his own failures. . . .

It’s worth looking again at the big picture here, one Mother Jones began documenting shortly after the 2016 election: Trump is using the autocrat’s playbook. Vladimir Putin’s, to be specific. As contributor Denise Clifton wrote more than three years ago, Trump’s deluge of demagoguery and lies “echoes a contemporary form of Russian propaganda known as the ‘Firehose of Falsehood.’” With Election Day nearing, the comparison has never been more apt.

In 2016, the nonpartisan think tank RAND published a study of the tactics and techniques used in Kremlin-controlled media. The end goal of what the researchers called “a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions” was to entertain, confuse, and overwhelm the public. (The entertainment component can serve as inspiration for loyal followers—for example, a string of broadcast traveling stage performances showcasing a greatest-hits of outrage and outrageousness.)

Look back at just about any point in Trump’s presidency and it’s evident how he has fulfilled four defining features of the Kremlin playbook, as identified in the RAND study:

  • High numbers of channels and messages”: Trump by no means controls the American media, but he has access to an unprecedented version of state-controlled television in Fox News, along with enormous unfettered reach through Facebook and Twitter (which further feeds all manner of news outlets).
  • Rapid, continuous and repetitive”: There are countless instances of Trump repeating a lie or line of attack multiple times during interviews, press conferences, and campaign rallies.
  • Lacks commitment to consistency”: In one recent example, Trump pushed for more coronavirus aid from Congress before railing against it and then calling for it again, in a span of less than 24 hours. In another, he turned his back on aid for wildfire-stricken California only to quickly reverse his position.
  • Lacks commitment to objective reality.” This one is pretty self-explanatory, but just in case… here are 20,000 examples.

Follman's well-written essay is worth reading in full.  Bottom line:  don't give up, don't look away, keep hope alive and VOTE HIM OUT!



Frank said...

Well I thought that was more or less obvious. The fact that he has mastered the technique and has it down to an almost perfect routine sometimes baffles me. I guess that is where the psychopathology comes into play. But what is the motivation of the narcissistic sociopath/psychopath? Self-aggrandizement? That is something for a lengthy analysis which may not be as relevant as the question "How did the GOP buy into the ruse, even if their motivation was/is to hold onto POWER?" Were there not enough intelligent politicians in the GOP to realize they would be going down with the ship of fools? (Is "intelligent republican" an oxymoron?)

Russ Manley said...

Oh it's always been obvious, and they knew all knew they were making a devil's bargain with Trump. I remember a few months after the election, some GOP Congressman, I forget his name, was caught on audio tape telling a gathering of his peers, "He's an assole, but he's *our* asshole." So they all knew what they were doing, and they did it anyway: support and promote a complete incompetent without a shred of moral character because he could whip up the crowds and vote the GOP-ers into office. Brazen cynical power-grabbing. Filthy.

Even Ted Cruz, the last holdout, who *swore* he would never support Trump, finally at the 11th hour before the election came crawling on his hands and knees to kiss Trump's ass. He couldn't stand the thought of being left out.

I have said on the BT ever since it started - when W was still in office - that the Republican Party is unfit to govern. They have now proven it beyond all shadow of doubt, in many ways, and chiefly in their lying support for a would-be dictator. He and they deserve a crushing defeat at the ballot box, and I sure hope the country gives it to them.

Frank said...

In 2014 I wrote "Why I will never vote republican" (https://reluctantrebel.blogspot.com/search?q=why+i+will+never+vote)and that is unlikely to change till the day I die.

Russ Manley said...

That post reads well and rings as true today as it did then.

But when I pulled it up, your blog followed it with your June 2015 post about celebrating the victory of marriage equality after the big Supreme Court ruling. In that post, you also noted that nothing would change the minds of the four conservative justices who voted against it.

Well now the balance of the court has shifted bigly, and some rightwing guys are already talking about "overturning Obergefell." I just don't even want to think about that. But even if Trump is booted out, and please God he will be, the Court is a huge unknown quantity now.

I actually thought in 2015 - Fine, now I can let the Blue Truck just dwindle down to nothing, the struggle is over. Will we really have to fight that battle all over again? I do hope not.

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