Charles J. Sykes writes: By now, it ought to be evident that enemies are important to this administration, whether they are foreigners, refugees, international bankers or the press.
But discrediting independent sources of information also has two major advantages for Mr. Trump: It helps insulate him from criticism and it allows him to create his own narratives, metrics and “alternative facts.”
All administrations lie, but what we are seeing here is an attack on credibility itself.
The Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov drew upon long familiarity with that process when he tweeted: “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”
Mr. Kasparov grasps that the real threat is not merely that a large number of Americans have become accustomed to rejecting factual information, or even that they have become habituated to believing hoaxes. The real danger is that, inundated with “alternative facts,” many voters will simply shrug, asking, “What is truth?” — and not wait for an answer.
In that world, the leader becomes the only reliable source of truth; a familiar phenomenon in an authoritarian state, but a radical departure from the norms of a democratic society. The battle over truth is now central to our politics. [Continue reading…]