Top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway had a bit of what I believe was a Freudian slip when she explained that Trump’s press secretary had presented “alternative facts” in a “press briefing” (which as it turns out was more of a press scolding) in regards to number of people who watched Trump’s inauguration. Of course facts are facts, there are no alternatives. But as I see some wonder how Trump supporters can ‘twist themselves in knots’ of logic in order to support him, it occurs to me that the idea of “alternative facts” is actually instructive. I would propose that the typical Trump supporter is not having to twist themselves in knots at all and actually based on the “facts” being presented to them are thinking quite rationally.
So I bit the bullet and watched a bit of Fox & Friends on the Fox News Network. It really didn’t take a big bite though, only about 60 seconds on three different occasions was enough to get the flavor. Now keep in mind that Fox News Network’s hook is that they are “fair and balanced”. But even most that acknowledge that Fox News are biased toward right-wing politics consider Fox News a legitimate news organization. So if you are a viewer, you don’t really have much reason to question the veracity of what you are watching…maybe biased….maybe even fair. Here’s what I learned on those 3 occasions:
- Day 1: What a four days for Trump! He has had 14 major accomplishments already. 14!!! Also, Trump is going to open an investigation regarding voter fraud. Voter fraud is something that has been reported many times on this network, so it’s about time.
- Day 2: Is Donald Trump “draining the swamp”? Guest Herman Cain says that all he can say is “wow!”. You betcha Donald Trump is draining the swamp. If he has to assign a grade, it’s A+!
- Day 3: We totally need “extreme vetting” to protect us from the greatest threat this nation faces today! All Trump is doing is putting a pause on things until we can separate the terrorists from the innocent and not just let people in here all willy-nilly. And besides, the “mainstream” media is making a WAY bigger deal of this than it really is. And besides, this affects so FEW people so we shouldn’t care. And besides, no one really cares, this is just Democrats like Elizabeth Warren stirring up trouble. (The hosts did allow that perhaps the executive order’s implementation could have been done better.) And besides, just look at Germany and what happened there!
Now just imagine if these are the “facts” that you presented with. It’s not hard to imagine that you would wonder why anyone would be down on Trump. After all, 14 major accomplishments is just 4 days? Here’s a man who gets things done, just like he said he would! And why would anyone oppose an investigation into voter fraud? Everyone knows that voter fraud is rampant, I’ve seen it reported many times. And finally somebody is ridding Washington of those insider elitists! Way to go Trump! And finally, the President is putting “America First” and keeping us safe from the terrorists….why shouldn’t we figure things out before letting ANYONE in???!!!
When you consider the above information, the above “facts”, then the resulting opinions are really not irrational at all.
Of course, here’s the flip-side of how I and many others see these facts and resulting thoughts:
- Trump has signed a bunch of executive orders and made many decrees. These have ranged from the pointless (signing an executive order to “build the wall” doesn’t get a wall built) to the wasteful (ordering the National Park Service to find evidence that the crowd at his inauguration was the largest ever) to the potentially damaging (the executive order implementing was is basically meant to be the “Muslim ban”). But we would be hard-pressed to find a “major” accomplishment (which is kind of silly to think would have happened in only one week anyway).As far as voter fraud goes, there is no evidence that it occurs in Presidential elections and that enough non-citizens voted to cost Trump the popular vote is statistically absurd (to hit the numbers Trump is citing, 15% to 25% of all the about 20 million non-citizens would have had to have somehow voted and then almost all for Hillary). The reason that Trump got fewer votes than Hillary Clinton is that more people legally casted a vote for her than for him (Occam’s razor). Trump’s need to investigate this is more about his insecurities and bruised ego than any actual problem that needs to be investigated and solved.
- Trump’s cabinet picks are made up of a combination of Wall Street insiders, multi-billionaires, and political establishment cronies, many of whom seem unqualified for the position they are up for. Sure “swamp” has never been explicitly defined. But I think Wall Street insiders, multi-billionaires, and political establishment cronies are what a lot of people think of when they think D.C. “swamp”.
- We aren’t letting people into this country all willy-nilly and never were. The vetting process for refugees takes two years or more and is all ready designed to separate the terrorists from the innocent. And also placing a religious litmus test on those proceedings appears unconstitutional. And besides, the number of refugee terrorist attacks in the U.S. stands at zero. And besides, even if this was a good idea and even if protecting us from terrorists is the goal, why does the list of nations included not include nations where the 9/11 terrorists and others were from while no one from the listed nations have ever committed a terrorist act on U.S. soil? And besides, why does the order include legal residents of this nation who only want to return home? And besides, those who were on the plane had already received permission from this nation to enter, are we really going to renege on our own word? And besides, no matter what the purpose, isn’t drafting and releasing such an executive order without input from the Department of Justice, State Department, or Homeland Security a terrible idea? And besides, these are people like you and I, moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas and children who just want to be safe. Isn’t America about being the shining beacon that guides freedom loving people everywhere?
Under this backdrop, what is going on doesn’t appear rationale at all and who could support such things?
Not sure how we can reconcile these differing views of the country. It just appears to be a recipe for divisiveness. That may well be the point. Somebody made a comment that with these “alternative facts” to muddy the waters, roughly a third of the people will believe them, a third will say they are lies and the last third will just throw their hands in the air and just decide the truth is not knowable and check out completely. Under such circumstances, you don’t need a consensus of the majority to do anything, just more of a consensus than anyone else that’s actually engaged.
Not sure where this goes. The days where we all get our news from one of three major networks and/or a mainstream newspaper are long gone. Still, I don’t know how we can have honest debates and discussions and dialogues and compromise and consensus building if we can’t even agree on the facts.