It can be very difficult for people to overcome whatever meaning the press superimposes on what someone has said, no matter how psychotic. Throw in incessant repetition and uniform agreement among the pundits (Hillary cheerleaders versus Never Trumpers), and completely deranged interpretations become historical facts.
Last August, Trump said the following about the way he was treated at the first GOP debate: “(Megyn Kelly) starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you know, you can see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever, but she was, in my opinion — she was off base.”
This was nearly identical to what Trump said about Chris Wallace a few sentences later: “There’s a big difference between Mike Wallace and Chris Wallace because I watched them last night, you know, blood pouring out of his eyes, too.”
Suddenly the words “her wherever” were being described as a clear-cut reference to Megyn’s menstrual blood! (I have it on good authority that Chris Wallace has never menstruated.)
Trump expressed shock, saying of his accusers, “They have all dirty minds — I never even thought about it … I was thinking of ears or nose.” (Accused by the same forces of something revolting, Whittaker Chambers gasped, “What kind of beasts am I dealing with?”)
The day after Trump allegedly referred to Megyn’s period, I happened to have a number of social engagements with people who hadn’t heard about the scandale. So I gave them Trump’s exact words, told them the media were in hysterics about it, and asked them to guess why.
None of them — an Obama-voter, a conservative actor and a union organizer — were able to guess the ludicrous interpretation being placed on Trump’s words. At least one was visibly angry about the accusation (probably because he was on his period). But after a few weeks of media propaganda, even he flipped and became totally convinced Trump was, in fact, referring to Megyn’s menstrual blood.
Most people are highly suggestible. That’s why companies spend billions of dollars on advertising.
The only way to see how media propaganda works is to remove yourself from the immediate panic. In the calm light of day — without people hectoring you from every news outlet, every moment of every day — you can clearly see that two plus two does not equal five, but four.
My entire career has been a test-run for the hounds of hell they’re unleashing against Trump on a daily basis right now. These hate campaigns were waged against me every few months for about a decade, until the media gave up and decided the better part of valor was to pretend I don’t exist. It happened so often, I can’t even remember them all, but a fan reminded me of a good one last week.
On “Good Morning America” about 10 years ago, I was asked about a (fantastic*) joke I’d told about John Edwards four months earlier. (That joke was also lied about, but that’s not today’s topic.)
Here’s the “GMA” transcript, June 25, 2007:
CHRIS CUOMO (ABC NEWS)
(Off-camera) You say you were joking.
ANN COULTER (POLITICAL COMMENTATOR)
“Oh yeah. I wouldn’t insult gays by comparing them to John Edwards. Now, that would be mean. But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So I’ve learned my lesson. If I’m gonna say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”
I’m not a rhetorician, but I believe this would be called a “syllogism,” or “deductive reasoning”:
It is acceptable for a person to say X;
I am a person;
Therefore it’s acceptable for me to say X.
Or maybe it’s just sarcasm about the media’s rank hypocrisy.
Whatever it’s called, the screamingly obvious point was to illustrate how our constitutionally protected guardians of liberty in the press go mental over my every joke, but don’t make a peep about far more aggressive rhetoric from liberals.
Among the possible responses to what I said on “GMA” are:
— That’s different! Maher was talking about Dick Cheney.
— We have a firm policy of pretending not to understand jokes about Democrats.
— OK, OK, you’re right. We were just trying to make you cry, so you’d either come to our side or stop writing.
In the realm of the sane, however, the possible responses do not include: ANN COULTER CALLED FOR JOHN EDWARDS TO BE KILLED IN A TERRORIST ATTACK!
Guess which one the entire media went with?
Mike Baker, Associated Press, Tuesday, June 26, 2007: “Elizabeth Edwards pleaded Tuesday with Ann Coulter to ‘stop the personal attacks,’ a day after the conservative commentator said she wished Edwards’ husband, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, had been killed by terrorists.”
Marc Ambinder, Atlantic Online, June 26, 2007: “Coulter herself said, ‘If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.’”
Tom Foreman, CNN correspondent, June 27, 2007: “Conservative commentator Ann Coulter jokes about Democratic contender John Edwards being killed by terrorists.”
CNN’s Kiran Chetry, “American Morning,” June 27, 2007: “Elizabeth Edwards confronting conservative commentator Ann Coulter … She was referring to Coulter’s comments the day before when Coulter said she wished Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had been killed by terrorists. Coulter responded to Edwards’ request with a laugh.”
Harry Smith, CBS’ “The Early Show,” June 28, 2007: “Welcome back to ‘The Early Show.’ Conservative political commentator Ann Coulter is known for making outrageous comments. This week she said Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards should be killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”
Hundreds of news outlets repeated this lie, without even mentioning Maher — i.e., what we call “the point” — although a few sportsmen included vague references to Maher’s comment deep within their stories.
This isn’t taking something “out of context” — it’s a lie. Try quoting the full sentence! Ironically, the media’s rewrite pretty forcefully proved my point about the gigantic double standard for liberals and conservatives: In order to prove I was a monster, the media put a liberal’s words in my mouth — the exact same words they hadn’t minded when a liberal said them.
I keep hearing abstract claims about Trump being “out of control,” making “mistakes,” saying “outrageous” things, but whenever I ask for a specific example, all I get are the media’s apocryphal versions of what Trump has done — never something he actually did.
All campaign news coverage today is an adaptation of MSNBC’s “In Other Words” game, where a Republican saying, “I don’t think Obama has been a good president” becomes HE CALLED OBAMA THE N-WORD!
The media may think their versions are logical extensions of what Republicans have said, but this is a presidential election. I think voters deserve to hear the truth and not Rachel Maddow’s demented translations.
(*I’m not a professional comedian, but when a room full of 7,000 college Republicans laugh — it was funny.)