Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A little hyperbole never hurts

or the art of catfishing

The New York Times devoted a full page to Trump's Lies since assuming office on January 21, urging the country not to become numb to this unprecedented level of duplicity.  Yet, I noticed a chain letter very similar to this one floating around facebook, urging Trump supporters to stand by their man in the face of the unprecedented assault on his presumed integrity.

The interesting thing about this chain letter is that persons are cutting and pasting it to their timeline, adapting the first line to reflect their age,and signing their name to it.  The one posted on reddit dates back to April 17 so it has been at least two months in circulation.  This tells you a lot about his supporters who seem to be crying as much as their President over the adverse press he has received since day one.  One might call them snowflakes.

As I noted in a response to a friend on facebook, all presidents go through the media gauntlet.  What is happening to His Trumpness is no different than any president before him.  You might remember that Trump himself took over the Birther campaign in 2011 to get Obama to release his long-form birth certificate to prove he wasn't born in Kenya.  Even after Obama released it, Trump continued to insist it was fake.  It was only in September, 2016, that Trump finally accepted that Obama is an American citizen.

Even though Obama would still be an American citizen had he been born in Kenya, since he had an American mother, the fact that Trump and his minions continued to perpetuate this lie throughout Obama's administration is all the proof you need that these persons live in an alternative universe.  So, it is doubtful that the New York Times front page assault on Trump will have any affect on them.

They believe their man is being persecuted by the press and that Obama is behind some kind of deep state that is undermining their president's administration.  Trump himself has suggested it several times and most recently charged Obama with obstruction and collusion for not having done more about the Russian hacking during the campaign.  It doesn't matter that Trump spent the last year denying it existed, in a remarkable about face he has thrust all the misdeeds being leveled against his administration on the Obama administration before him.

Even more amazing is that he is finding support among disgruntled Democrats who don't think Obama did enough to deal with the issue when he had the chance.  Schiff and Feinstein have unwittingly fallen prey to Trump's new line of attack to turn Democrats on each other, in the wake of their failed attempt to win one of four open House seats.

Fact of the matter is that Obama did make it known that the Russians had hacked the DNC e-mail server and had warned governors that the Russians would try to hack voting precincts during the general election.  Unfortunately, it all fell on deaf ears, as the media was enjoying the mother lode of e-mails being dumped on wikileaks, verifying that the DNC had it out for Bernie Sanders.  When Obama tried again to warn the public, Trump's Access Hollywood tape buried the story.  What more could Obama have done without making it look like he was conspiring to get Hillary elected, which you can bet is how the press would have interpreted it.  Trump and the conservative press were already claiming that the election was rigged.

Just the same, the issue did come up in the Presidential debates with Trump suggesting anyone could have hacked the DNC e-mail server, including a bed-ridden, 400-pound guy.  Once again he used the incident to stress that Hillary and the DNC conspired against Bernie Sanders.

Suffice it to say, the Russian hacking story gained no traction during the campaign.  Even now, Americans appear to be tired of the ongoing investigation, according to a Harvard-Harris Poll being distributed among conservative web news outlets.  Most Trump supporters see the story as nothing more than a means to discredit their leader and the investigation as a sham.

Trump's strategists have been very effective in using this steady stream of lies to their advantage.  They have literally created an alternative version of reality that plays directly to their targeted audience.  It is exactly the kind of propaganda the Soviet Union and other totalitarian regimes used to legitimize their authority.

Where Trump has been most effective is on Twitter, where he claims to have 100 million followers, although the figure is actually 33 million.  Even if we add his POTUS following of 19 million we only reach 52 million, and it is safe to say many of these followers are carryovers from the Obama administration, who personally has 91 million followers on his private account.  The New York Times has 39 million followers.

Like the "yuge" inauguration crowd sizes Trump insisted upon, his questionable height and wealth, Trump has a tendency to use what he calls "truthful hyperbole -- an innocent form of exaggeration and a very effective form of promotion." from The Art of the Deal.  Since he doesn't want to be seen as obese, he inflates his height from 6'-2" to 6'-3" even if he is probably no more than 6'-0."  You get the idea.  He wants to be seen as a big man but not too big.

Twitter, and social media in general, allows you to be what you want to be.  We all engage in a bit of this "truthful hyperbole" from time to time, and for the most part no harm done.  But, what happens when someone purposely misleads his following all the time?  Some would call this "catfishing."

Trump has wooed a substantial following by telling them what they want to hear, regardless of whether it is grounded in any truth.  He has done a very effective job of demonizing the mainstream media so that his followers won't accept the truth even if it hit them squarely on the head.  For them, the New York Times is part and parcel of an orchestrated attempt to "slander, ridicule, and insult" their Commander in Chief.  It doesn't matter that Trump often trips over his own lies, the mainstream media is much worse.  It's the kind of narcissistic orgy one could imagine Hitler having if he had twitter back in 1939.

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