The Times on Trump’s insistent lying

The Times editorial board has a think piece on what to do about Trump’s relentless lying. They use that word a lot. As I mentioned a week or two ago, newspapers don’t do that lightly – they don’t do it at all unless they’re very sure they can back it up. This piece treats Trump’s lying as not even in doubt.

Mind you, they start with an odd claim.

Donald Trump understood at least one thing better than almost everybody watching the 2016 election: The breakdown of a shared public reality built upon widely accepted facts represented not a hazard, but an opportunity.

The institutions that once generated and reaffirmed that shared reality — including the church, the government, the news media, the universities and labor unions — are in various stages of turmoil or even collapse.

Including the church? First of all, what church? There is no singular “the church” here. But much more to the point, what do churches and other religious institutions have to do with a shared public reality built upon widely accepted facts? Nothing. Churches & co are about myths, or stories, or fictions, or lies. They’re also about rituals and community and the like, but they rest on a shared story.

But that’s a side issue.

The rise of social media has been great in many ways. In a media environment with endless inputs and outlets, citizens can inform and entertain one another, organize more easily and hold their leaders accountable. But it also turns out that when everyone can customize his or her own information bubble, it’s easier for demagogues to deploy made-up facts to suit the story they want to tell.

That’s what Mr. Trump has done. For him, facts aren’t the point; trust is. Like any autocrat, he wins his followers’ trust — let’s call it a blind trust — by lying so often and so brazenly that millions of people give up on trying to distinguish truth from falsehood. Whether the lie is about millions of noncitizens voting illegally, or the crime rate, or President Obama’s citizenship, it doesn’t matter: In a confusing world of competing, shouted “truths,” the simplest solution is to trust in your leader. As Mr. Trump is fond of saying, “I alone can fix it.”

If the solution is trust…then why trust a nasty bully like Trump? It’s not as if he’s good at putting on a convincing performance of trustworthiness. He performs anger and belligerence. That’s what seems to draw people, not trust.

He is not just indifferent to facts; he can be hostile to any effort to assert them. On Tuesday, Chuck Jones, a union boss at Carrier Corporation, toldThe Washington Post that Mr. Trump was wrong when he claimed to have saved 1,100 of the company’s jobs from moving to Mexico — the real number will be closer to 730. Rather than admit error, the president-elect instead attacked Mr. Jones, a private citizen, on Twitter, saying he had done a “terrible job representing workers.”

In other words, Mr. Trump’s is a different kind of lying, though it has been coming for some time.

Sure; it’s a different kind of lying because he’s a different kind of guy. He’s exceptional in so many ways – ignorance, pugnacity, rudeness, cruelty, corruption, greed – it’s no surprise that he’s exceptionally dishonest and proud of it, too.

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