The day Teflon Don emerged

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, Trump had a disastrous press conference. By all accounts it appeared Trump bombed. Some comments compare him to Nixon as he crumbled under Watergate. For others, he sounded confused, discombobulated, and incoherent. All of this is true and it is wrong.

Trump has measured the media and found them wanting.

Trump won this press conference. He came into his own. You could see him enjoying himself as he played with reporters, humiliated them, and dismissed them. Throughout the questions, he was in control. Not a single question rattled him or even caused him discomfort. He made the point that the leaked telephone calls were like a test. Will future highly sensitive calls be leaked? He could plant the view that it was test that showed how far the press and those who are not loyal to him would go.

If the press do not report what Trump wants, they are dishonest.

For his base, his behaviour was what they wanted. Even if the press try to report or explain why Trump is wrong or had a poor performance, they can point to his opening remarks “The press are dishonest”. By doing this, he appeals to what his supporters want to believe and most importantly, he creates the belief that what is said is what is.

Trump isolates the media from America just as he isolated CNN from the media.

For his audience, his supporters, he has hit a theme that resonates. Just as he isolated CNN within the media, he has begun to isolate the media within America. Most importantly, he was able to insult the media, “take it to them” in a way that his supporters wanted. Note how he says “The failing New York Times”, yet complains about the “hateful tone” in his coverage. His refrain that the press will report him as “ranting and raving”, shows how he shapes the narrative. When the press respond, and explain; calmly, clearly, cogently what Trump did, the public have the narrative to explain the headlines and stories—the press are lying. It is fake news.

If you question him, you disagree with him. If you disagree with him, you will lie about him.

Even when he was confronted about the electoral college win, he could dismiss that by “someone told me”. The response is just as his supporters would expect. Trump was given duff information. What matters is Trump won. For Trump, even a single electoral vote is a large margin. To argue that point shows you are a sore loser. You argue about an irrelevant detail because you disagree with the outcome and don’t like Trump. Why else would you question it?

The Sophist’s revenge on those who believe in the Philosopher’s truth.

Is any of this true? No. Does it matter? No. Trump does not have to tell the truth as fact checked by the media, he only has to manage the appearance of truth for the public. He shapes a truth, a narrative, that is created by the appearance of what he says. For Trump, what is said *becomes* what is.[1] Anyone who questions him already starts at a disadvantage because to question him is a sure sign you disagree with him. If you disagree with him, you will lie about him. In this scenario, only Trump, and those who Trump verifies, tell the truth. Everything else is fake news.


[1] “What permits the sophist to accomplish this feat of forgery is the assumption that what is said is actually is. In other words, sayings are equal to that which is (to on). Hence, words once coupled with deductive reasoning provide a true account of the generic being (i.e. what is).”

About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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