The unveiling of the Ministry of Truth
By Anna Daniels
There are 1,457 days left in the Trump presidency, assuming that he doesn’t get bored and quit, is impeached or that the skies rain glass upon us all.
Trump’s inaugural address “(Liberal) Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” made it clear that he is only interested in his adoring base–the 46% of the voting public who narrowly installed him in the White House. The strategy among his handlers is clearly to let Trump be Trump while they roll up their sleeves and dismantle our democratic institutions.
The massive Women’s March in Washington on the first day of the Trump presidency was successful on many levels, not the least of which is that it got under Trump’s thin skin–bigly. The half million or so people who showed up were not Trump’s adoring base.
Welcome to the world of ‘alternative facts’
When Sean Spicer, Trump Press Secretary, gave a press briefing on Saturday evening after the Women’s March, he stopped short of pounding the podium while he delivered what is easy to imagine as a spittle inflected speech “Ours is bigger!”
Trump’s obsession with the size of his crowds and his poll numbers (when he is winning) is no secret. He uses every public appearance to continue to remind his audience that he pulled off a huge win when everyone (the press) said it was impossible.
Trump realizes that the best defense is a strong offense. Spicer went after the press for under-reporting the size of Trump’s inaugural attendance while inflating that of the Women’s March. The reality of course, is that attendance at the Women’s March eclipsed that at the Trump inauguration.
Spicer threw down the gauntlet, promising that this presidency would vigorously take on the press and call out their putative lies. Trump has already provided the set up for this by describing the mainstream media as the opposition party. This plays well to the base and the Trump administration is counting on this going forward.
It is also extremely dangerous– Kellyanne Conway is already chirping that Spicer presented alternative facts. How many in the mainstream media will be willing to say that “alternative facts” are what reasonable, sane people call “lies”?
There should be no doubt that our new Ministry of Truth will go after individual reporters, specific media outlets and the press in general. The first shot out of the gate was small lies that are easily refuted. Will the press refute them? Will the press ultimately find the courage to stop attending Spicer’s press briefings?
The scrubbing of data
While the public debate continues over whose
d@ck crowd is bigger, behind the scenes the scrubbing of data and websites is occurring. The federal government provides indispensable data. This includes budget and economic information to Congress (Congressional Budget Office) as well information to the public at whitehouse.gov . Trump has called the Department of Labor’s unemployment statistics a hoax.
So while Spicer and Conway push alternative facts to the public, the actual facts that the public, the media and Congress rely upon are being disappeared.
It is abundantly clear that it falls to the public, to the citizens, as we saw in yesterday’s Women’s March and to the press, which is still struggling to find its spine, to provide a narrative that is not only fact based but broadly accessible.
There are 1, 457 days left in the Trump presidency. Trump already has a legitimacy crisis. We are getting clear signs of what he intends to do.
What are we prepared to do?