The more lies Donald Trump tells, the larger the frustration grows — the greater the sense that Trump continues lying because he’s being allowed to get away with it.
The New York Times says:
Mr. Trump relies on social media to spread his views. This is convenient because there’s no need to respond to questions about his fabrications. That makes it imperative that other forms of media challenge him.
Instead, as Mr. Trump stays at the top of the Republican field, it’s become a full-time job just running down falsehoods like the phony crime statistics he tweeted, which came from a white supremacist group.
Yet Mr. Trump is regularly rewarded with free TV time, where he talks right over anyone challenging him, and doubles down when called out on his lies.
This isn’t about shutting off Mr. Trump’s bullhorn. His right to spew nonsense is protected by the Constitution, but the public doesn’t need to swallow it. History teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act. It’s no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it’s an important one.
MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell says “Donald Trump lies because he knows he can get away with it.”
O’Donnell also says Trump exploits the politeness of his interviewers and that they are afraid of challenging him because they are afraid he won’t show up for future interviews.
Trump’s antics are boosting the ratings of both supporters and critics in the media.
But I don’t think Trump continues lying simply because he can get away with it, or because the media is too polite to call him a liar, or because since he is a pathological liar he just can’t stop lying.
The reason he keeps on lying is because, paradoxically, among his supporters it reinforces his image as a truth-teller.
Since Trump supporters think that “the media” and “media lies” are synonyms, and since in a polls have shown “liar” (at least until recently) was a phrase more commonly linked to Hillary Clinton than Trump, and since the political establishment is widely viewed as being filled with liars, it matters much less to Trump that he is being called a liar than it does who is calling him that.
If each time Trump gets called a liar and Trump’s base see his accusers themselves as liars, the accusation not only loses its sting — it ends up looking like a vindication, proof that Trump is rocking the establishment.
What’s the solution?
For a start, the media needs to stop giving Trump so much free airtime. And that means refraining from following the currently irresistible impulse to profit from his notoriety.
A presidential election should be about issues, not antics, and it’s up to the media to cover the issues.