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I Think I'll Watch The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Again

Trump Didn't Say That

The title would be applicable at least once a week. In a comment on some current-event-related post a while back, Janet said "Don't make me defend Trump." I find myself in that position a lot. So do enough people, I guess, that the Babylon Bee did a post about it

It's maddening. I really haven't changed my negative view of Trump. But the unrelenting effort by Democrats to destroy him by, apparently, any means necessary, makes me at least a little sympathetic toward him. Or at least toward the truth which is such a frequent casualty in this war.

I'm thinking right now of the insane bit of controversy that's happened over the past few days. Trump wondered out loud whether disinfectants should be studied as possible measures against COVID-19. That was immediately turned into "Crazy Trump Tells People to Drink Disinfectant." And then they warned people not to do it. As if the idea would ever have occurred to anyone without the help of the press.

If you want to read a careful account of what Trump actually said and the way it was handled, read this piece by Andrew McCarthy: The Times Inflates Trump's Foolishness Into Monstrousness

How depressing is the erosion of the principle that when the president of the United States speaks, it means something, that it’s not just stream-of-consciousness that willy-nilly gets revised or reversed or treated like he never really said it. Just as depressing, though, is the media’s abandonment of straightforward fact reporting, in favor of unabashed alliance with Trump’s political opposition.

Why do blind partisans and demagogues have such sway these days? Because no one can trust the reporting of institutions we used to expect would give us an accurate rendition of the facts being debated....

When the president speaks publicly, he should stick to what he is in a position to convey factually, not hypothetically. Especially when it comes to scientific and medical information, as to which he is quickly out of his depth.

At the same time, no matter how much the press abhors Trump, no matter how sincerely believed its conviction that he is a dangerous man who will induce people to do dangerous things, reporters worthy of the name do not have license to portray Trump as living down to their worst fears when he has not. If he says dumb things, they should report that he said dumb things. That’s bad enough (and since they’re clearly hoping to hurt him politically, nothing stings like the truth). The press destroys its own credibility, however, by reporting the president’s ill-advised remarks as if they were culpably, recklessly irresponsible remarks.

I don't care much about Trump's political fortunes for Trump's sake, but I do care about the transformation of most of the national press into a weapon for his enemies, because it means that the institutions which are supposed to inform us, and are always eager to preen themselves upon their own importance, have more or less abandoned that duty where domestic politics is concerned. When I said "Democrats" earlier, I meant the word to include most of the media. As McCarthy says, "No one can trust the reporting." And as a journalist of another time used to say, "That's the way it is." 

TrumpSaysEatYourGrassAnd by the way Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet.

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Thanks for this. I couldn't stand the unceasing negativity and dishonesty when "conservatives" took this tack with Obama, and this is pretty much the same thing in reverse.

You're welcome. Maybe I can refrain from posting about it for another month or so. :-)

It's wrong when anybody does it. But this is more serious, because the NYT and others have the power to shape reality for half the country. And it's the half that includes the people with the most power and prestige. The right-wing stuff exists in a sort of ghetto, albeit quite a large one that includes Fox News.

Do you think part of this has to do with trump continually attacking the press? I don't know when we have had a president who constantly lashed out at anyone who has anything negative to say about he or his white house. And while all politicians lie to some degree, it seems to be trump's hobby to fabricate and re-fabricate, just really to say whatever he feels like saying regardless of the consequences. I have no sympathy for him at all.

You say that, Stu, as if it were okay for the press to lie because Trump is attacking them. There is no excuse for the press, whether liberal or conservative lying ever. The truth is damning enough in this case and by their constantly twisting everything he says, they are driving a nail in their own coffin. Why aren't they out there putting some great Democratic plan to help mend the country out there. They throw away every possible opportunity nto do something positive in their attempt to discredit Trump, and it's going to backfire.

AMDG

Well, there's certainly a "cycle of violence." And Trump is certainly a big-mouthed jerk. But the media/Dems have been trying to destroy him since the day the election results came out. Whatever Trump says doesn't justify the media, the self-anointed guardians of truth, falsifying what he does say.

And just from the point of view of effectiveness, it's very doubtful that they are effective with large segments of the population. I literally do not take at face value anything negative that they report about Trump. Like Andrew McCarthy said, you just plain can't trust the reporting.

I see Trump as engaged in b.s., or, my preferred term, jive, a lot of the time. In ordinary life smart people ignore half of what a person like that says.

Btw it's not quite accurate for me to say I "sympathize" with Trump. That implies some kind of positive feeling that I don't really have. Let's just say I think his anger is justified to a great degree. Anybody would be angry at being misrepresented that way.

I don't think they lie, I think they make more of something that he said than is really there. That is not quite the same as lying.

You don't have to rely on them anyway, they constantly show videos of him speaking that show exactly what he said. While claiming the exaggeration of his disinfectant comments, they showed him speaking.

Meanwhile at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic FOX news and many members of the GOP (again, shown in video to say this) repeated many times that Democrats wanted there to be a pandemic so trump would not be re-elected. This at the same time as they were saying don't worry there's no pandemic coming. Half of that is lying, and the other part is stupidity that allowed for more deaths. Now many of these same people say that our economy is more important than people dying, again, they are shown in video to say this. You know what, I could care less about the economy when I compare it to people dying. These same people probably all say they are Christians.

Two wrongs don't make a right. That's why whataboutism, from either side, is not only a waste of time but profoundly unhelpful.

I hadn't seen Janet's comment when I posted my earlier one.

I don't have time to add much more, but will say this: in the transcript I read, Trump did not in any way so much as hint that people should inject themselves with or drink disinfectant. It was a goofball remark at worst, clearly speculating. There is a point where distortion and omission amount to lying. Instances of the press doing this with Trump have been documented over and over and over. They've always done it with people they disagree with, but it's been over the top with Trump.

"You know what, I could care less about the economy when I compare it to people dying."

That's not really much of an argument. Would you support lowering the speed limit to 20 mph? There's absolutely no doubt that it would save lives. Tradeoffs are inevitable.

"Why aren't they out there putting some great Democratic plan to help mend the country out there."

I read a comment somewhere earlier today saying that people should vote for Biden because he will try to unify the country. I actually laughed out loud.

Yes. Saying that Trump is going to try to cancel the election was an obvious attempt to bring us together.

Part of my frustration here is the lack of a candidate that I can respect.

AMDG

In ordinary life smart people ignore half of what a person like that says.

Problem is, some people just aren't very smart. One reason a president needs to embody prudence.

Yes Rob, I know that whataboutism is a bad way to go about replying to such a discussion. Mac told me once that it is good for me to present my much more left-wing perspective into things, so just doing my part. :)

A good and prudent candidate that we can respect fully would be nice. Sorry that this will not happen in 2020.

I still think that trump is the worse possible candidate from humanity, excluding perhaps serial killers.

I see so much resemblance between Trump and Biden.

If you’re looking for someone who passes the “decent human being” test, you’re going to have to vote 3rd party this year. Biden is every bit as bad as Trump. But he’s a professional politician and so is a lot slicker than Trump.

"I still think that trump is the worse possible candidate from humanity, excluding perhaps serial killers."

That strikes me as more than a little unhinged. DT is worse than cartel bosses? Russian mobsters? KKK leaders? Radical Marxist professors? Anarchists?

Thinking of candidates worthy of respect: the only ones among the recent crowd of Democrats that I respected were Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang, neither of whom had the least chance. (Some of them I didn't know enough about to have an opinion. Couldn't tell you most of their names.) I would believe either of them if they said they wanted to unify the country. When most Dems (e.g. Biden) talk about unity they just meant that everybody has to do (and think) as they say.

Another great bit of unity-talk from Biden: telling a black group that Republicans "want to put y'all back in chains." That's just contemptible.

The only Republican that I really liked from the past couple campaigns was Kasich. Probably could have lived with Huckabee too, although I haven't followed him at all since he dropped out of politics.

~~Another great bit of unity-talk from Biden: telling a black group that Republicans "want to put y'all back in chains." That's just contemptible.~~

Appalling.

Biden is actually quite a nasty man.

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/joe-biden-most-disturbing-thing/

And those recent spates of name-calling and threats when he was challenged. A whole lot like Trump, actually, in that respect.

Yes. That's exactly what I meant.

AMDG

"Bleachgate is the archetype of the Trump media cycle":

https://www.theweek.com/articles/911392/bleachgate-archetype-trump-media-cycle

Here's something trump did say, just so we can read it and giggle:

"Nobody's ever been treated badly like me. Although they do say Abraham Lincoln was treated really badly. I must say that's the one. If you can believe it, Abraham Lincoln was treated supposedly very badly."

I think Richard Nixon would disagree.

AMDG

The press did not lie. Trump said that disinfectant should be 'injected into the body' as a 'kind of cleaning'. He said that ultraviolet 'light should be brought inside the body', perhaps 'through the skin'. Its here. For shame. He was talking about getting disinfectant inside the body 'as a cleansing', and in that context, talking about injecting disfectant and drinking it are not entirely different things. Did you actually look at the video before you wrote about it?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hwvgz48rdY

I read the transcript. Did you read the analyses I linked to? The point is that Trump was speculating about possible medical treatments *to be researched*. No one denies that he talked about it. The distortion is in making it sound like he was recommending that people treat themselves by drinking or injecting themselves with bleach or whatever. Dozens of jokes and memes testify to the effectiveness of that spin.

Mac, I read that "Bleachgate"article you linked to, and I think it underestimates the potential harm done by what Trump said. Something I just learned is that there is actually a movement that hawks the health benefits of chlorine:

While many greeted the claim as patent nonsense, members of a movement advocating so-called Miracle Mineral Solution – a type of bleach – were quick to claim vindication.

Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS, is a family of substances based around chlorine dioxide. Its adherents claim it can cure a raft of otherwise incurable illnesses. The FDA has warned that chlorine dioxide has “serious and potentially life-threatening side effects” when consumed.

Among them Jordan Sather, who is also an exponent of the pro-Trump “QAnon” conspiracy movement.

In a tweet he cited the president’s remarks, then went on to extol the curative powers of chlorine dioxide to his 150,000 followers.

There's another article in the NY Times written by four mothers of autistic children:

In the social media groups we monitor, President Trump’s words were taken as a beacon of hope. As one promoter wrote: “Mr. President Donald Trump I totally agree with you. Chlorine Dioxide is a very noble product that has been used for many years throughout the world to cure people.”

For the past five years, as concerned parents of autistic kids, we’ve been documenting, following and reporting the “bleach cures” movement. The Genesis II Church and Kerri Rivera, among others, have been selling products like chlorine dioxide, marketed as “Miracle Mineral Solution,” or M.M.S., stating that the substances will cure autism, acne, cancer, diabetes, Covid-19 and so much more. ...

What do the “cures” being touted look like? Unfortunately, parents of autistic children have been advised by M.M.S. sellers to feed their children a protocol of 16 doses of bleach orally, in addition to a bleach enema to “cure” their condition. In the last five years, poison control centers have managed more than 16,000 chlorine dioxide cases, including a 6-year-old autistic girl hospitalized with liver failure.

But Trump did not suggest or recommend that anyone ingest bleach. If one is going to hold Trump responsible for the way his vague and semi-coherent remarks were received by nuts, then one must hold the press equally responsible, because they didn't report that he was talking about something for "medical doctors" to "test." And--correct me if I'm wrong, because I haven't re-read the transcript--I don't think he said anything at all about *drinking* any sort of disinfectant.

Also, to Grumpy: "The press did not lie." I didn't say they lied. I re-read my post to make sure I hadn't used that word, because I try to be very careful with it. It was not a flat-out lie, but it was misleading, and I feel pretty confident that it was meant to be. It's of a piece with the way they have dealt with Trump from the beginning. You simply can't take what they report about him at face value.

And by the way, yeah, Stu, that's a ridiculous and sort of pathetic quote from Trump. T-Bone Burnett has a song called "A Ridiculous Man" which I think of sometimes when I read some of the junk Trump says.

If you are not going to look at the video of Trump saying that disinfectants could be injected into the body, there's no point in discussing it, obviously. This is the original speech which started the controversy. If you don't want to look at it, why discuss it.

He does talk about injecting that and then says, "You're going to have to use medical doctors." He is clearly talking to the doctors about things they are going to try.

I was the first person to say "lie" and I said it to Stu in a broader context. I do think that deliberately implying something different than what a person meant in order to mislead others is lying.

AMDG

Ok, I watched the video. It says what the transcripts say, as I assumed it would. It doesn't change anything. No one that I know of has said that he didn't talk about injecting disinfectant.

I repeat: The point is that Trump was speculating about possible medical treatments *to be researched*. No one denies that he talked about it. The distortion is in making it sound like he was recommending that people treat themselves by drinking or injecting themselves with bleach or whatever.

Janet: "I do think that deliberately implying something different than what a person meant in order to mislead others is lying."

Yes, that's certainly true. There's a strong argument that the overall pattern of the Democratic press's treatment of Trump amounts to that. And as I keep saying, one doesn't have to be a Trump supporter to see that.

"No one denies that he talked about it. The distortion is in making it sound like he was recommending that people treat themselves by drinking or injecting themselves with bleach or whatever."

Precisely. Trump says an awful lot of stupid things, but the media often twists them and makes them sound even worse. Then again a lot of modern people, both left and right, don't seem to understand the nature of "context." Or maybe they just don't care.

The most interesting part of the video Grumpy provided above is that it keeps moving closer to Dr. Birx, and she looks more and more like she might vomit. It's hard to be scientist when you're working for P.T. Barnum!

I've not seen whether he's revisited this since Friday, but it is truly amazing that Trump thought the "I was just being sarcastic" thing would fly. https://factcheck.thedispatch.com/p/was-trump-asking-a-sarcastic-question

I'm glad to see that the date on that is April 26. I was going to be pretty annoyed and disheartened if they were still talking about that.

"Or maybe they just don't care." I've been in some debates/arguments that at first kind of floored me in the way the other person refused to consider context or anything else. They were not stupid people. Then I realized that they were functioning not as truth-finders but prosecuting attorneys going for a conviction.

A few years back I had an online discussion with someone in which this came up. I can't remember what it was about but the guy had quoted someone out of context, and my response was that I'd have to see the context before I could accurately judge the quote. His response was to say that he could imagine no context in which such a quote might be acceptable, and basically refused to admit the possibility of a more nuanced reading.

You see this sort of thing on Dreher's blog all the time. He's constantly asking naysayers, "Did you actually read what I wrote?" because what he said in context and what they interpreted him as saying were so different as to make him suspect that they hadn't really read him at all.

I've sometimes wondered why he approves those comments in the first place. Maybe doesn't want the other person to think he won? :-)

I remember years (lots of years) ago a friend of mine saying that no matter how carefully you say something someone will always find a way to construe it in a way you didn't intend. It's true. Sometimes it's bad faith, sometimes not. You can tell the difference by the reaction when you try to clarify. Some people don't *want* clarification.

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