Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief insisted that The Wall Street Journal wouldn’t label Donald Trump’s false statements as “lies.” Lying, said the editor, requires a deliberate intention to mislead, which couldn’t be proved in Trump’s case.
But Trump is the most lying president we’ve ever had, and he seems to get away with it.
Here’s his 10-step plan for turning lies into near truths:
Step 1: He lies.
Step 2: Experts contradict him, saying his claim is baseless and false. The media report that the claim is false.
Step 3: Trump blasts the experts and condemns the media for being “dishonest.”
Step 4: Trump repeats the lie in tweets and speeches. And asserts that “many people” say he’s right.
Step 5: The mainstream media start to describe the lie as a “disputed fact.“
Step 6: Trump repeats the lie in tweets, interviews and speeches. His surrogates repeat it on TV and in the right-wing blogosphere.
Step 7: The mainstream media begin to describe Trump’s lie as a "controversy.”
Step 8: Polls show a growing number of Americans (including most Republicans) believing Trump’s lie to be true.
Step 9: The media start describing Trump’s lie as “a claim that reflects a partisan divide in America,” and is “found to be true by many.”
Step 10: The public is confused and disoriented about what the facts are. Trump wins.
Don’t let Trump’s lies become near truths. Be vigilant. Know the truth and spread it. The media should stop mincing words. Report Trump’s lies as lies.
Robert Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations and Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.