By Steve Woodward
The tweet was snarky, as is to be expected. It speculated that President Donald Trump cancelled a scheduled trip to Poland, not because of the looming threat of Hurricane Dorian, but because he is lazy and needed an excuse to spend the holiday weekend playing golf, as usual.
Imagine the false outrage had Trump made the trip to Poland? The twitter-sphere would have condemned him for abandoning the homeland amid yet another climate change-generated natural disaster. Dorian is Trump’s Katrina!
Over on Facebook, we’ve encountered a chorus of whiners reacting to Trump’s forthcoming appearance in Fayetteville, NC (Sept. 9), on the eve of a special election for a U.S. congressional seat in NC-9. The outrage centers on a narrative that Trump’s 2020 campaign is saddling municipalities with unprecedented costs, closing in on $1 million, for additional security and other logistical needs when he rolls into to town for his signature rallies.
Naturally, no one mentions how the campaigns of sitting presidents seeking re-election handled these costs in the past. George W. Bush and Barack Obama were called out for similar fiscal “abuses”. Obama used Air Force One to travel with then Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for a 2016 joint campaign appearance, but a Bush era ethics lawyer had no issues with the arrangement.
It’s an unavoidable problem, Richard Painter said in an interview with ABC News, for presidents who are simultaneously commanders-in-chiefs and the leaders of their respective political parties.
“I don’t think this is controversial,” Painter said. “A president that won’t campaign for his own party isn’t the leader of his own party. If someone claimed that President Bush was abusing taxpayer money to campaign, we would have laughed at that.”
But in the era of Trump this type of reasoned analysis is no longer possible. The narratives build one upon the other in the media’s endless quest to diminish him and marginalize his administration and supporters. His campaign doesn’t reimburse? Of course not, as a businessman he was famous, or so it goes, for refusing to pay contractors what they were owed. Everybody knows that (because it has been repeated for three years running). He’s lazy because he plays rounds of golf despite working more hours than any president since perhaps Abe Lincoln (never mentioned), and granting more media access than any president ever (not even close).
Authors Gary Marcus and Annie Duke explain how unrelenting fake news perpetuates Trump delusion syndrome in a piece they co-authored for The Wall Street Journal, which lays out how the Left and its compliant media hold the truth hostage so effectively. It is a simple matter of exploiting behavior.
In a world of information overload and distraction wrought by technology and daily life as we know it “we tend to assume that whatever we hear is true.” Admittedly, this is an objectionable generalization but it is not aimed at readers of this blog. It is aimed at the growing sector of society identified by Rush Limbaugh as the “low information voter.”
The authors site numerous studies that have demonstrated how vulnerable human beings are to being snookered. A 2017 study by faculty at New York University examined around 500,000 social media messages. Subtle words such as “hate”, “destroy” or “blame” accelerate the spread of these messages by 20% per emotional word.
“Fake news tends to avoid nuance or neutral language and frequently adds layers of emotion and moralizing — all of which makes false items spread much faster than the real thing,” Marcus and Duke wrote. They conclude a war can be waged on fake news by teaching “information literacy” across all age groups.
In WSJ August 31 – September 1 editions, the newspaper profiles prolific novelist Salmon Rushdie. His 14th just-published novel is a contemporary version of a 17th-century classic, “Don Quixote”. His motivation for writing it partially draws on the fake news and reality TV phenomena from which almost no one readily escapes.
“We live in a moment in which truth is stranger than fiction,” Rushdie says, “and so the fiction has to decide how strange it needs to be in order to get close to the truth.”
This week’s fictional thread, which inevitably will work its way back to the Trump White House, is that Hurricane Dorian is another in a series of monster storms delivering “unprecedented” fury.
“The truth is that the storms that are hitting the Caribbean with this intense magnitude are historic, unprecedented, and these storms are manmade storms,” contends Emory University Prof. Tiphanie Yanique in a televised interview with the independent news hour Democracy Now.
The guest and her interviewer, both clearly in lockstep with the climate change narrative, failed to address a well documented chronology of Category 5 hurricanes. The first Cat 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin was recorded in 1924, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), followed by 34 more through this year. Only four have hit the United States as a Cat 5 across 95 years.
Now, test your information literacy as you read this concluding sentence: The most intense Cat 5 hurricane to make U.S. landfall hit the Florida Keys on Labor Day 1935. President Roosevelt was blamed, along with climate change.