Donald Trump has once again made headlines following a leak of alleged comments the President made in which he reportedly called U.S. soldiers that had died in WWII “losers and suckers.”
Emerging from The Atlantic, the allegations were informed by individuals that “spoke on condition of anonymity,” which President Trump has since denied, stating that “it’s a fake story and it’s a disgrace that they’re allowed to do it.”
Of course, these allegations — whether true or not — represent yet another day in the ongoing war between Donald Trump and the U.S. media. As CNN reports:
“Goldberg insists the story is true. Trump insists the story is false. Both of those views can’t be right.”
Ultimately, how you interpret The Atlantic’s recent hit-piece on Trump largely depends upon how you viewed Trump, prior to reading the story. Trump’s supporters will see this as just another example of “fake news,” while his detractors will feel unsurprised at another instance of the President being deplorable.
In fact, what is perhaps most interesting about The Atlantic article, is how unlikely it is to sway voters.
For many decades now, the ideological divide between those who identify as Democrat, and those who identify as Republican has been growing, and people are moving further to the ends of the political spectrum. As such, political tribalism has intensified and the truth has been sidelined.
This is a concept that was elucidated in the 2016 Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year ‘post-truth’ which is defined as:
‘Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.
In the case of the recent allegations that Trump insulted the U.S. military, in which the objective truth remains unclear, people simply take the side that affirms their worldview.
A significant part of this political polarization can be attributed partly to the declining trust in mainstream media, which is felt most predominantly by conservative voters.
Inevitably, when one half of the political spectrum doesn’t feel represented by the mainstream media, they will instead place their trust in publications and individuals who do represent them — thus accelerating the political division.
But why is trust in the media declining, predominantly among conservatives? Is this merely a result of Trump’s campaign slogan of “fake news”?
Well, a good way to determine the legitimacy of Trump’s fake news claim, and the legitimacy of conservatives who feel ignored by their mainstream press is to see if there are any examples of the media lying about Donald Trump.
1. “Neo-Nazi’s are very fine people”
One of the most often repeated attacks on the current U.S. President is the claim that Donald Trump called neo-Nazis “very fine people” following the death of Heather Heyer at the Charlottesville rally in 2016. One of the most recent public figures to repeat this claim is none other than his political rival Joe Biden, who has previously stated:
“When [Trump] said after Charlottesville that there were “very fine people on both sides” he gave license and safe harbor for hate to white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and the KKK.”
This is a claim that Biden has since used at the recent Democrat National Convention, as well as many prominent media outlets, which suggests that the current U.S. President supports Neo-Nazism — a hefty and consequential claim if proven true.
However, as the BBC reports, it simply isn’t true:
According to a transcript of a press conference on 15 August, President Trump did say — when asked about the presence of neo-Nazis at the rally — “you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
During the same press conference, Mr. Trump went on to say “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”
One of the defining blemishes on the Trump campaign for his first two years as President were allegations that his team had colluded with Russia to influence the election. There wasn’t a media outlet on the planet that didn’t cover the Russian Collusion scandal, and many covered it extensively.
Famously, the New Yorker published a Russian cover, designed to prod at the looming allegations surrounding Trump and Putin. Additionally, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow covered the Russian scandal almost daily.
However, the Russian Collusion scandal fell apart following the Mueller Report — a nearly two-year-long, $32 million investigation into the activities of the Trump Campaign — which did not find sufficient evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the United States’ 2016 election.
3. Coronavirus Hoax
Many media outlets and public figures have recently reported that the nearly 200,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States could have been avoided had the President taken the virus more seriously. Instead, his detractors allege, Mr. Trump called the virus a “hoax,” just as he did with the Russian scandal.
Well, as we know now, the Russian probe failed to produce meaningful results, and so the term hoax can be considered to be fitting in this context. But what of his COVID-19 statements?
As Snopes reports:
“Despite creating some confusion with his remarks, Trump did not call the coronavirus itself a hoax.”
Instead, Trump referred to claims by Democrats that his administration hadn’t done anything to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as a hoax, not the virus itself.
In conclusion, whether Trump insulted the U.S. troops or not remains to be seen, and it’s entirely possible that he did in fact do so. However, as it becomes increasingly clear that the media and public figures are distorting information about Trump to sully his reputation, they only sully their own, and the publics’ trust in them.