CNN's Tapper, Stelter Accuse Trump of Gaslighting America, Killing Concept of 'Truth'

CNN's Brian Stelter accused Donald Trump of "gaslighting the country" and fellow host Jake Tapper took his analysis a step further, saying the president is corrupting "truth" as an concept.

Tapper appeared on Stelter's Reliable Sources program Sunday morning to promote his upcoming All the President's Lies special detailing Trump's "affinity for fibs, fictions and falsifications." Tapper said the president has morphed the practice of lying as a whole into an effective and key tactic of his campaign and defense against impeachment. Stelter referenced a late Republican congressman who read a letter from a Chicago third grader during the 1999 Bill Clinton impeachment hearings that innocently asked: "If you can't believe the president who can you believe?"

Stelter introduced his fellow CNN host by dismissing comparisons to the Clinton or Nixon impeachment processes because Trump "makes past presidential liars look like amateurs." The two cable news hosts laid out how the president is manipulating Americans, young and old, to question their sanity through an insidious assault on "truth" as a whole — a concept also referred to as "gaslighting."

"Is it fair to say we're at the point where the president and his allied media outlets are waging a disinformation war on the public? Is it that bad?" Stelter asked.

"There's certainly a lot of disinformation coming from President Trump and his allies in the media and on Capitol Hill," Tapper replied. "There's a lot of things that are said that are just factually not true. And the truth is I was thinking about this documentary before Ukraine happened, and before this scandal broke. But it has become — disinformation, lying has become a key part of his defense."

"So much of [Trump's language] is designed, I think, just to confuse the American people, and muddy the waters and cloud what the facts are," Tapper added.

Stelter played a brief clip of GOP Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, who read a note from a Chicago third grader as a means of explaining to Congress why Clinton's Lewinsky scandal impeachment was necessary. "If you can't believe the president who can you believe?" the child asked Hyde, who died in 2007. Stelter then applied the same question to Trump, asking viewers, "is the president a role model for the country?"

The Reliable Sources host spoke directly to other members of the news media and journalists, saying those who corroborate Trump's incessant lies will one day regret not "speak[ing] out about the lying and deceit."

Tapper offered a less hopeful view, saying journalists are frequently forced to lob softball questions at politicians from both parties in exchange for access or favor. The longtime CNN host said lawmakers are routinely given a pass to lie.

"When I prepare for interviews, I read previous interviews that the Democrat or Republican I'm about to interview has done. And I'm quite often — and I'm not going to give you any names or networks — but I'm quite often stunned at the degree to which just blatant lies are not only said by politicians, but sometimes by members of the media," Tapper said.

Tapper concluded by lamenting the overall "corruption of the truth" he said the Trump administration and the president himself uses as a means of avoiding accountability. Tapper argued that the people Trump has surrounded himself with will go to any lengths to contort lies into their own worldview of "truth."

All the President's Lies airs Sunday evening on CNN.

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CNN's Brian Stelter accused Donald Trump of "gaslighting the country" and fellow host Jake Tapper took his analysis a step further, saying the president is corrupting "truth" as an concept. Screenshot: CNN | Reliable Sources