If you are interested, I have published Journalists wrestling Trump for the truth: Fake News and a Post-Truth society? on another of my blogs. You can find it at Philosophical Politics (here).
In that essay, I look at how Trump, like all politicians and sophists, tries to create his preferred reality through what he says. In response, journalists, and the public indirectly, try to wrestle him to the truth. They do this by either asserting their own preferred reality or they do this by wrestling Trump to the truth based on the shared reality that sustains the political community. Like any political community, the United States of America is founded upon a common opinion about certain political things. These political things are rooted in the fabric of reality from which facts are derived.
What is at stake is that the journalists and Trump are wrestling for the truth, which the public have to judge against their lived reality. In this struggle, appearances, if they are believed, can become a reality. However, appearances and opinions are unstainable if they are not connected to or rooted in the facts that are derived from the shared reality. We can disagree over why or how World War One started but we cannot argue over the claim that Belgium invaded Germany. Germany invaded Belgium and there is nothing anyone can say that will alter that fact. However, the political realm, the public domain, is often beset with competing opinions about the shared reality, often unmoored from facts derived from a shared reality, where people try to assert Belgium invaded Germany. Because we all live and work with incomplete information, we are often persuaded by opinions that flatter us or confirm what we want to believe is the truth. Therein, we see the current problem with Trump and journalism especially for a public struggling to differentiate opinion from fact and appearance from reality.
To the extent that Trump and journalists rely on rhetoric that flatters or insults the public, they remain in the realm of appearances and opinions. For either to succeed they need to root their rhetoric in the shared reality. For the public who want to hold power to account, usually through information provided by the media, it is important to have journalists root their stories and facts and reality. However, Trump’s rhetoric makes it difficult for journalists and the public to escape appearances and opinions. The journalists and the public face a double bind as Trump undermines the media as Fake News, which makes it difficult for the public to accept their facts as anything other than false opinions, and he sees himself as the only one telling the truth that will connect the public to the shared reality or at least their lived reality.
Once the facts are unmoored from our shared reality, then truth becomes what the powerful say it is. When that occurs, democracy descends into tyranny as see in Russia under Putin. Is that our fate?