Posted by Jay Livingston
Is there method in Trump’s megalomania?
Why would Trump say things that are obviously untrue? Not only untrue but easily demonstrated as untrue, like his claim that his inauguration had drawn the largest crowds in history. Photographs clearly showed that the crowd on the mall at Obama’s first inauguration was larger.
Trump, as we have come to realize, never admits that he was wrong. And now he has a press secretary who does the same. Yesterday, Sean Spicer repeated the false claim.
He criticized other estimates, saying,This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period.
No one had numbers, because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out.Spicer did not take any questions, so we can’t know whether he realized the contradiction between these two statements. If no one has numbers, how can Spicer be so sure that Friday’s crowd was the largest in history?
Spicer went further.
We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama's last inaugural.Reporters checked with the actual Metro statistics. Spicer was lying.*
Why would Trump leave himself open to headlines like this?
But Ezra Klein at Vox thinks the attack on facts is not just psychological, it’s also strategic.
| the groundwork is being laid for much more consequential debates over what is, and isn’t, true.|
Delegitimizing the institutions that might report inconvenient or damaging facts about the president is strategic for an administration that has made a slew of impossible promises and takes office amid a cloud of ethics concerns and potential scandals.
It’s not difficult to imagine the Trump administration disputing bad jobs numbers in the future, or claiming their Obamacare replacement covers everyone when it actually throws millions off insurance.
The strategy certainly works among Trump’s supporters, the folks who get their news only from Fox or right-wing Internet sources. For the rest of the public, it will depend on the strategies that the media take for reporting on an Administration with so little respect for facts.
* The New York Times (here) has documented a few other falsehoods from Trump and Spicer, including Trump’s false assertion that during his speech the rain stopped and the sun shone and that “it poured after I left. It poured.” In fact, the rain was light and continuous throughout – no sunny skies, no downpour.