The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board laid into President Trump on Monday in the second instalment to its 4-part series exploring why it believes the president is uniquely unfit for office.
Though it acknowledged that politicians of all stripes lie, it highlighted the distinction between those lies and the claims Trump has made on the campaign trail and from the Oval Office.
“The insult that Donald Trump brings to the equation is an apparent disregard for fact so profound as to suggest that he may not see much practical distinction between lies, if he believes they serve him, and the truth,” the editorial said.
It added that Trump’s loose relationship with facts resonated with his supporters because although he isn’t a gifted orator or an experienced politician, he “targets the darkness, anger and insecurity that hide in each of us and harnesses them for his own purposes. If one of his lies doesn’t work — well, then he lies about that.”
The editorial touched on a number of prominent and baseless claims the president has made in the past, starting with his birther crusade against former President Barack Obama — a theory that may have been the catalyst for Trump’s political career. Trump’s grievances against Obama, the editorial said, were predicated on the “latent racism” or fear of extremist terror attacks that many Americans may harbour, and therefore resonated with his base, many of whom support the president’s early proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
It also explored Trump’s apparent hostility towards the press, particularly when it contests claims that he’s made, like those involving the size of his inauguration crowd.
“If broadcast footage and photos show a smaller-sized crowd at his inauguration than he wanted — then he targets the news media, falsely charging outlets with disseminating ‘fake news’ and insisting, against all evidence, that he has proved his case,” the editorial said.
The editorial board highlighted other controversial stances the president has spouted, like his assertion that terrorist attacks are underreported and his entirely baseless claim that Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower, which some believe was an attempt to distract from the investigation into potential ties between Trump associates and Russian operatives.
“Trump’s easy embrace of untruth can sometimes be entertaining, in the vein of a Moammar Kadafi speech to the United Nations or the self-serving blathering of a 6-year-old,” the editorial added.
The danger of Trump, the editorial board noted, is that he has become “the stooge, the mark, for ever crazy blogger, political quack, racial theorist, foreign leader or nutcase peddling a story that he might repackage to his benefit as a tweet, an appointment, an executive order or a policy.” He is “as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief,” it added.
Trump has been known to support and spread the conspiracy theories pushed by far-right websites like Infowars and Breitbart News. His former campaign CEO and current chief White House strategist is Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart until he assumed his role in Trump’s campaign.
The problem in this case, the editorial said, is that with his ascent to the presidency, “the culture of alternative reality has made its home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave,” and that poses a unique threat to American interests and national security. That threat is amplified if Trump continues to embrace falsehoods in his interactions with nations like China and North Korea, with whom the US is currently on rocky ground.
The Times’ editorial ends with a plea to American citizens, urging them to “investigate. Read. Write, Listen. Speak. Think,” and to “defend freedom” by “demand[ing] fact.”
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