Untold consequences

Why Trump’s lies matter:

It’s bad enough that President Trump has relentlessly minimized the coronavirus threat for nakedly political reasons, disastrously hampering the federal government response to the crisis, with untold consequences that we can only guess at.

Determined not to be outdone by his own malice and depravity, Trump is taking new steps that threaten to make all of it worse. He’s telling millions of Americans to entirely shut out any and all correctives to his falsehoods. He’s insisting they must plug their ears to any criticism designed to hold his government accountable for the failures we’re seeing, even though such criticism could nudge the response in a more constructive direction.

And even though getting it wrong means death. He’s actively, openly telling lies to get people killed – not in a war or a rescue mission or a space flight but simply to soothe his own throbbing ego.

He’s on a tear about news media corrections of his Google nonsense.

note Trump’s declaration that in a larger sense, the media is not being truthful at a time of crisis. Trump is using his megaphone to tell the American people not to trust an institution they must rely on for information amid an ongoing public health emergency, all because that institution held him accountable for his own failures on this front.

His wounded vanity up against the survival of millions of people? No contest.

Early on, Trump raged at the media for supposedly hyping coronavirus to rattle the markets and hurt him politically. Here, too, Trump told the American people not to believe the press even as it accurately informed them about a severe public danger that Trump himself was busy misleading them about.

The big story here is that we’re now seeing just how catastrophically unsuited Trump’s brand of autocracy truly is in the face of a crisis like this one. As Anne Applebaum details, Trump’s enforcement of a loyalty code against civil service professionals, and his retaliation against them for exposing inconvenient truths, paved the way for Trump’s pathologies to hamper the response, because “Trump has very few truth-tellers around him anymore.”

As the pandemic spreads. Awesome.

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