Trump is effectively a professional wrestling heel (i.e., villain). He lies, demeans his opponents, cheats and then insults anyone who disagrees with him. When he gets caught conducting his foul business, he announces that he is the real victim. Trump is a master salesman who keenly understood how to sell his particular brand — which consists of racism, sexism, nativism, misogyny, ignorance, violence and crude behavior — to his fanbase of human deplorables, who installed him in the White House.
Trump is a political con artist and a skilled showman. His reality TV-inspired spectacle is highly compelling to the lost, lonely and angry people who saw in him a role model and a human happiness pill. For those (and other) reasons, Donald Trump was able to defeat Hillary Clinton, in quite likely the most bizarre presidential election in our history. Trump continues to use those traits and skills to remain popular among Republicans and his other supporters. More than a year later, I worry that once the true scale of Trump and his cabal’s treasonous behavior is made publicly known, the Republican Party’s leadership, and Trump’s backers in the media and among the public, will continue to defend him — or simply not care. Today’s American conservatives value partisanship more than patriotism. America’s democracy will be forever broken. Short of a great reckoning, repairing it may be impossible.
Which hurts civilization more: no one believing anything, or everyone believing lies? If we fail to take immediate action to protect our news and information ecosystem, we may soon find out. We are careening toward an infopocalypse — a catastrophic failure of the marketplace of ideas. I am even more deeply concerned about the future of our democracy now than I was in mid-2016, when I was one of the few raising the alarm about social media creating an explosive breeding ground for misinformation. Facebook and its brethren have begun to take this threat seriously, but the next threat — the distortion of reality itself — is fast approaching.
And then there is the incessant lying, in which Bauer said that Trump “will insist on pushing out whatever narrative he would like the press corps and public to believe, regardless of that narrative’s relationship to the facts.” The White House staff is learning the habits of an autocratic leader, not of democratic governance. Feed the president’s ego, smear the opposition, deny the facts and don’t worry yourself over the victims. By behaving in this fashion, they sacrifice their own integrity, and worse, contribute to the decline of democratic norms and civil debate. Don’t waste your pity on them; they chose to work for Trump. Worry about the White House as an institution instead. They’re trashing the place, and it may never regain its former luster.
Enumerating the atrocities of current Fox News opinionators is far too much work for one individual such as the Erik Wemple Blog. Let’s just highlight Sean Hannity’s dive into the Seth Rich conspiracy; Hannity’s work as, essentially, a White House aide on behalf of President Trump; Hannity’s participation in a video promotion for candidate Trump; Hannity’s use of subpar polling to prove that Trump is rocking; most other things that Hannity does; and a whopping percentage of the programming on the morning show “Fox & Friends,” plus the hypocrisy and dishonesty of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
It’s easy to just chalk all this up to Fox News being Fox News. But Fox News is the main source of news for 19 percent of 2016 voters, including 40 percent of Trump voters. There’s academic evidence that Fox News is more powerful than we ever imagined. It’s a network that allows conspiracy theorists to make hay out of baseless lies. And to top it all off, there is evidence that the hosts see their jobs as advising Trump — talking directly to him — and that Trump sees them as his main information source. This is why it’s important to keep track of what Fox News is doing. While Russians may have used clever trolling tactics to sow distrust in the American political process, Fox News does this out in the open, and it does it with a megaphone every single night, directly into the living rooms and the minds of millions and millions of Americans.
The demented rightwing thinking isn’t just confined to Fox & the echo. Here we see CNN often has far-right morons on their shows as a guise to offer balance:
My analysis today gets more into religion with the passing of Billy Graham. We might well be living in the last days. The battle lines may be sparked by conflict erupting in the Israel-Syria region, with a proxy war breaking out between America, Russia, China & a likely soon-to-be nuclear power Iran. Should such an Armageddon come to pass, it’s possible America could be in such a weakened state from our divisiveness & devaluing our democratic values, we could become easy prey to our enemies. I find many liberals tend to dismiss the enemy threats or somehow think we can ignore the very real dangers in the world. I personally find it absurd to think global warming is more an imminent threat than the confluence of nuclear weapons with enemy states & terrorism. But conservatives who once knew better, I’m sincerely finding they’re being given over to a spirit of lies & deception. When virtually an entire party has lost the ability to grasp reality, their solutions will be equally misguided. Let me share some scripture to ponder:
Deception In The End Times
Most Relevant Verses
“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.
Using a double negative in this next statement, evangelicals may not only be not immune to accepting all these current deceptions, lies & conspiracies, but they might be the primary targets. We’re engaged in this eternal battle between good & evil, & with God’s guidance those of faith can get back on the right side. It first requires a recognition we’ve lost our way. We see it in the way conservatives en masse have fallen for the obvious lies & deception from the echo, including Fox fake-news & extreme far-right talk radio & social media groups. We see it playing out when conservatives repeatedly believe the outlandish propaganda delivered here to America from Russian bots. We can see it in the CPAC gathering this week, once the bastion of principled conservatism, having now fallen for the lies & deception from deceitful speakers who enthrall that bamboozled audience (& where we just saw a NRA spokeswoman accuse the media of loving mass shootings & the NRA head resort to recent standard Trump-echo talking points of bashing the FBI, see cpac-has-always-been-out-there
There are numerous individual examples of conservatives given over to a mindset of lies & deception, which I’ve been reporting on for years. See this lovely lady in a video being ignorant of facts, where it was proven she was forwarding false ads from Russian trolls, yet she used colorful four-letter words in denying it. If she’s married, please pray for her husband: internet-research-age
When people act like cretins, should they be ignored? Does talking about their misdeeds merely give them oxygen? Maybe so. But the sliming — there is no other word for it — of the survivors of last week’s Florida high school massacre is beyond the pale. Here is the often-appalling pundit Dinesh D’Souza, outright mocking the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, after they showed their disappointment in a state legislature vote on assault weapons on Tuesday: “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.” Recall for a moment: These are teenagers whose friends were brutally murdered a week ago.
“Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen,” wrote the aide, Benjamin Kelly, speaking of González and David Hogg (whom I interviewed last week). That was, of course, a lie. But the conspiracy theory had already spread far and wide: “This chick was coached,” echoed one Twitter user. “Democrats used an innocent girl as a pawn.” The trashing of these students — whose determination and passion are nothing but admirable — removes a rock to reveal several varieties of maggots. One is the “say anything to get attention” crowd that sees nothing as beneath them. You know their names. Scores of other conspiracy-mongering videos littered the platform and gained traction on right-wing sites that regularly spread misinformation. Legitimate disagreement over policy issues is one thing. Lies, conspiracy theories and insults are quite another.
In another link youtube-stoneman-douglas, a ridiculous conspiracy theory about one of the students was shared 100’s of 1000’s of times on social media before being removed, showing yet again whatever level of deception the conservative base is operating under, they not only believe the lies, but they help spread the lies! The students are even getting death threats from the now radical-right: fla-shooting-survivors-mother-
I send out dozens of related articles twice per week in these part 2 sections, proving the deceptive depravity coming from the echo that influences the political right. How could such sick thinking as exposed in their echo-rhetoric not be considered untrue & deceitful? The steady stream of lies are indisputable, yet somehow conservatives are falling for them repeatedly. I don’t see how it’s possible we can interpret many of these so-called conservative viewpoints as anything other than pure evil. That would include the messaging from Trump & his administration, his pundits & political enablers, the echo, the Russian disinformation & the GOP base. It also includes unquestioned faith in a leader who has abused women, bullies anyone he doesn’t like, operated his businesses like a con man, looks the other way as a foreign enemy attacks our democracy, & governs based on the twisted propaganda seen on Fox fake-news. And that it seems to have consumed the mindset of many if not most conservatives, it almost seems this widespread spirit of deception has some supernatural force behind it, perhaps even demonic. I don’t say that lightly, but there must be some explanation for this swift transition from rational to radical conservatism. I’ve always considered myself conservative & I always shared/related to their viewpoints, both politically & theologically, but I can’t identify with these conservatives anymore. In fact, I don’t even know these people. At least not the people they’ve recently become. I sincerely don’t understand what’s happening, but I’m seeing those I once respected as pragmatic/compassionate conservatives defined by love of country & love of the almighty God, suddenly have seemingly lost their moral principles, if not their minds. This is truly getting scary.
Has our political party & our faith suddenly been hijacked by the elected political leader presiding over what resembles a demonic cult, who by any definition is a dishonest moral degenerate, while the flock buys into demonstrably false rhetoric being directed by echo talking heads like insanity Hannity & so many others concocting their own demented false realities? Or is the path they’re taking being directed by forces beyond human influence? Is whatever spell conservatives have been placed under somehow convinced them to abandon godly principles by making a pact with the devil himself? As a faith believer I’ve been long taught who is the father of lies. So it’s only rational to wonder if this constant barrage of lying stems from one primary source. The Christians I know don’t even realize they’re being deceived, which I hope & pray these harsh comments can serve for some as a wake-up call. A contrarian message to be sure, but serious concerns that needed expressed. Many will ignore, dismiss or not want to hear it, but they need to hear it. Such words are a dramatic departure from my normal political opinions, but this might be getting at the root of where our troubles are really originating from. I mostly avoid commenting on my faith in these commentaries, as I think it’s best for all of us to respect that healthy separation between church & state. And it’s abundantly obvious my opinions have split from most of my evangelical brethren, but I felt led to share. I’m very worried in the direction the GOP, our country & our faith have been heading.
Rev. Billy Graham, whose death at 99 was announced Wednesday morning, helped define nearly a century of evangelical Christianity. Over the course of his life, Graham was believed to have preached the gospel to more people than anyone in world history, with an estimated cumulative live audience of 215 million people from 185 countries. But in other ways, the prominent figures of the modern religious right could not look more different from Graham. At once theologically orthodox and deeply outspoken on issues of human rights (most notably against segregation), Graham defied the now-ubiquitous “left-right” paradigm. A traditional evangelical, he unified his politics and his theology: a perspective centered on both the individual human person’s need for the gospel of Jesus Christ, in all its difficulty, and a deeply held compassion for those who fell short or sought grace. In an increasingly politically and religiously divided country, Graham’s sincere faith was a far better model for evangelical Christianity than that of his successors.
For contrast, consider Graham’s son and the heir to his commercial ventures, Franklin Graham, whose deeply political (and pro-Trump) stance contrasts sharply with his father’s approach. While Billy Graham distanced himself from the Moral Majority-era Christian right, Franklin embraced them wholeheartedly. As white evangelical Christianity in America comes to look more and more like Christian nationalism — a blend of GOP policy platforms, jingoism, white supremacy, and Christian rhetoric — it’s worth recognizing Billy Graham’s legacy as a spiritual leader who balanced a stringent, even uncompromising approach to his own faith with a ferocious independence from the American political arena. While today, faith and politics seem irredeemably intertwined (after all, 81 percent of white evangelicals famously voted for Trump), for Graham, political activism was — with the exception, as he himself recognized, of his disastrous friendship with Nixon — secondary to the faith principles he espoused.
In 2007, Graham defended his decision to distance himself from Falwell’s Moral Majority and its political successors: I’m all for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice. We as clergy know so very little to speak with authority on the Panama Canal or superiority of armaments. Evangelists cannot be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle in order to preach to all people, right and left. I haven’t been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future. A religious leader whose convictions informed his politics, and not the other way around, Graham showed America that theological convictions and a deep religious faith could exist for their own sake, and not be made subordinate to Republican partisan aims. And in an increasingly religiously polarized America — in which political and religious identity have all but fused — a spiritual leader who rejects those binaries is exactly what we need. We need, in other words, another Billy Graham.