First history book on Trump's presidency rips the poor guy to shreds
Category: News & PoliticsBy: john-russell • one month ago • 19 comments
Today what is described as the first history book of Donald Trump's presidency hits the market.
The Presidency Of Donald Trump : A First Historical Assessment goes on sale today. Here is an excerpt from chapter 4.
Chapter 4 - The Crisis Of Truth In The Age Of Trump
How can we account for Donald Trump’s extraordinary record of lies?
From the outset of his campaign to the closing weeks of his presidency, he
unleashed an unprecedented torrent of false claims and misinformation. The
lies themselves are now so familiar as to have become clichés. He regaled
audiences at his rallies with stories of a fictitious past: as the child of a
German immigrant, who graduated first in his class at Wharton, and
benefited only from a modest inheritance, before enjoying a sustained string
of business successes, building a TV show that stayed at the top of the
ratings for a number of years, ascending to the presidency with a majority
of the popular vote, and celebrating before record-breaking inaugural
He promised from the outset to deal with a slew of fictitious
problems: a wrecked economy (after ninety-one consecutive months of
economic expansion), a slew of “criminals, drug dealers, rapists” streaming
over borders (after a nearly decade-long decline in rates of unauthorized
immigration, and much research suggesting that the correlation between
unauthorized immigration and crime was, if anything, negative), and a
catastrophic rise in the murder rate (which was still hovering near fifty-year
And he promised his audiences a fictitious future: he would unveil
precisely how Mexico would pay for a border wall, he would share his tax
records for all to see, he would introduce a new health-care plan that had all
the benefits of Obamacare with none of its flaws, and he would make
COVID-19 disappear weeks after it had reached American shores.
Even his administration’s most obvious successes were leavened with hyperbole until they too grew into lies. His tax cut was the biggest ever, his administrationhad built “the greatest economy in the history of the world,” he enjoyed 95 percent approval from the Republican Party, and he’d been featured on more Time magazine covers than anyone else.
Few rays of truth emerged undisturbed after passing through the prism of Trump’s words.
The leading news organizations—already wrestling with challenging
market conditions amid cord cutting and the overabundance of free media
—struggled to arrive at a coherent strategy to account for a major-party
candidacy, and later a presidency, that showed such blithe disregard for
facts. Was it appropriate to grant cable news airtime to someone who
exploits it, repeatedly, to spread easily documented falsehoods? How could
news organizations preserve their putative commitment to “balance” in
covering candidates whose arguments were founded in deception? In
wrestling with the latter question during the 2016 campaign, the public
editor for the New York Times captured the pathos of a profession in crisis.
The word “lie” is “loaded” and “feels partisan,” she wrote—but sometimes,
as in Trump’s “unequivocally false” claims about Barack Obama’s birth
certificate, it was nonetheless “time to call a lie a lie.”
Journalists increasingly worried that their attempts to appear evenhanded were being
exploited in the service of false and misleading claims, but also that
observing their falsehood would play into Trump’s narrative that their
reporting was untrustworthy, “fake,” and distorted by liberal bias. His
willful defiance of convention had left them in a double bind.
The Presidency Of Donald Trump : A First Historical Assessment
edited by Julian Zelizer