When the stubbornly loyal supporters of President Trump attempt to defend their hero against his critics, unable to actually respond based on fact, they typically resort to four categories of inaccurate retorts. After all, they've been sold on their leader's extreme intelligence and the fact that he's a "very stable genius."
What are those four categories?
There is out-and-out lying, the false equivalency, whataboutism and rationalization. Each of these represents a different method of spreading false information. Each undoubtedly will be used to sow dissension in the upcoming elections.
Let me explain each of these methods.
Out-and-out lying.This is usually based on something spawned by a far right conspiracy site, then presented as fact. Examples are Pizzagate, Uranium One and the old NRA narrative that anyone that doesn’t agree with them is “coming for your guns”. More recently it’s been that Democrats want open borders and support criminals.
Each time a lie is shared, it gains traction. The more people hear it, the more likely it is to be believed. This goes back to the philosophy of Hitler’s propaganda minister, Herman Goering, which led to the deaths of millions. That’s what makes it so dangerous.
Lying is nothing new for this administration. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had a highly publicized meltdown when CNN’s Chris Cuomo kept referring to Trump’s lies. He demanded that Cuomo stop using the word, even if it was factually accurate. The latest numbers have Trump averaging twenty-two lies a day, yet his minions would rather we ignore this.
The false equivalency approach is when two unrelated topics are connected to create a negative view of one side or the other. An example is a claim that veterans’ payments are being diverted by illegal immigrants. By equating the two, anyone who disagrees with the premise is un-American.
Patriotism is a big factor in false equivalencies. The controversy over NFL players kneeling in protest over police treatment of minorities was morphed into their disrespecting the flag through their actions. People abandoned their favorite NFL teams because they believed this falsehood.
When all else fails, there is always whataboutism.
Instead of having an adequate reason for supporting an irrational stance, the supporters will attempt to turn the tables with “What about Obama?” or “What about Hillary?” or any other lame comparison that comes to mind. This is essentially the equivalent of the Pee Wee Herman defense of “I know you are, but what am I?” It is a method of deflection when facts just aren’t there.
Rationalization is yet another method of spreading false narratives. When Trump’s golf habits are pointed out, his supporters will defend him by saying things like, “He’s working while he’s golfing” “He works hard, so he deserves a break” or, “He’s only going to his own properties, so it’s not like he’s taking trips to Hawaii”.
In fact, it’s much worse.
When Trump takes one of his many “vacations” at his own properties, he bills the government for things like Secret Service accommodations, the proceeds of which he puts into his own pockets.
It’s not surprising that his supporters place such strong beliefs in him. After all, they equate ratings with facts. Because one network has higher ratings, they must be right. The world simply doesn’t work that way. Despite being enmeshed in “alternative facts”, there can be no denying the truth, which eventually will come out.
So, the next time you feel like posting false information, remember what constitutes the real Fake News.
CJ Waldron is a retired English teacher from upstate New York. An adjunct instructor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, he lives in Conway, SC with his wife, Donna.
Credit for the video caricature above: Swiss video cartoonist Christoph Hausammann.