by Lyle Harris Sr.
This section is devoted to studying the impacts of the Trump Administration.
What can we say? Shocking! Terrible! How could this happen? When will it end?
That’s the question for all of us when we examine data from The Washington Post’s Fact Checker that shows President Donald Trump made that many false or misleading claims since his first year in office — nearly 22 false claims a day. Fact Checker has a database that tracks and examines every suspect statement. Trump’s fourth greatest day for false or misleading claims was March 3 when he reached 104.
Falsities recently: 131 times that he claimed he had passed the biggest tax cut in history, 126 times he lied by saying his border wall is already being built, and 116 times he has said the U.S. economy now is the best in history. The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. He hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year. So far in 2019, he’s averaging nearly 22 lies a day. Again, what does this mean to us, the citizens and voters?
This is how it works. Fox opinion commentators and Trump work together: Fox cites Trump’s statements as “fact,” and Trump cites Fox for evidence of his information.
Mark Sumner of the Daily Kos staff lays out the system very well: “Fox and Trump engage in a circular pattern, one in which each cites the other for ‘evidence.’ Trump can say anything — anything — and know with certainty that Fox will be there to catch him within the hour with multiple statements in support of his position, no matter how distorted, bizarre, or simply wrong. If Trump decides someone is on the outs, Fox will chase them. If he claims a ‘win’ that doesn’t exist, Fox will support that claim.”
Works Both Ways
Sumner adds that the system works both ways. If Fox claims something about an economic policy, “within minutes, Trump has tweeted, repeated it, screamed it at a rally crowd.” Trump quotes Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity or Jeanine Pirro as support for his statements. Those three are Fox political opinion leaders and not credible sources for accuracy or responsible commentary.
“Trump regards Fox with the kind of reverential awe generally held for the Pope and senior scientists — both of whom Trump abhors,” Sumner writes.
Jennifer Rubin, an opinion writer for The Washington Post, reported that Tucker Carlson, the prominent Fox commentator, had made radio recordings some years ago in which he joked about having sex with a teenage beauty pageant contestant in 2007. The recordings, discovered by Media Matters for America, show Carlson “degrading women and flippantly discussing child rape in old radio interviews.” Other parts of the audio showed Carlson calling his critics a “mob” and he refused to apologize for or even disown comments that included calling Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys” and women “primitive.”
Fox News Toadyism
Rubin added, “The Fox News organization is now inextricably tied to hateful, racist, hurtful speech, not to mention complete toadyism to President Trump and utter lack of journalistic standards. It doesn’t get an invitation to join polite company.”
Margaret Sullivan, a media columnist writing in the Post, said that Fox, which attracts more viewers than MSNBC and CNN, “specializes in fear mongering and unrelenting alarmism.” Key comment: “At crucial times, it (Fox) does not observe basic standards of journalistic practice: as with its eventually retracted, false reporting in 2017 on Seth Rich, which fueled conspiracy theories that Hillary Clinton had the former Democratic National Committee staffer killed because he was a source of campaign leaks.” She also pointed out that Fox carried “racist lies about President Obama’s birthplace,” relating to the false claims that he was not a U.S. citizen.
Conservative Political Action Conference Speech
And Glenn Kessler, writing in the Post, responded to Trump’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, in which he said that “Socialism is not about the environment, it’s not about justice, it is not about virtue. Socialism is about only one thing: It’s called power for the ruling class.” Kessler wrote, “Be wary of politicians crying socialism. There is no one-size-fits-all label, given that a concept developed in the 19th century has morphed over time and evolved in successful and disastrous ways. Just because something has the word ‘socialist’ in it does not necessarily mean it leads to dictatorship or economic ruin.”
So how are people reacting to the audacity and recklessness of this president? In New York City on Manhattans’s Upper West Side, Trump had six apartment towers, all with his name splashed in gold on them. Since 2016, the boards of the buildings have decided to remove the name “Trump” from each one.
Lyle Harris Sr., a former reporter in Washington D.C., is Journalism Professor Emeritus, Western Washington University.