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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Lies, damned lies and Donald Trump: How the Reagan and Bush assaults on truth and science may presage what’s coming - Salon.com

"It has become a commonplace to say that Donald Trump is an unprecedented figure as president-elect. If we want to understand him, we need to look abroad, to examples of authoritarian rulers who’ve undermined democratic norms and the customary rule of law to consolidate their power—men like Vladimir Putin, to cite the most pertinent example, or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Yet it would be a grave mistake to ignore significant precursors here at home, the better to illuminate the weaknesses Trump is sure to exploit.
While Trump’s authoritarianism and lack of political experience are striking and unprecedented, the underlying disconnect between reality and public perception that he feeds on and exacerbates is nothing new. The title of Jonathan Schell’s account of Nixon’s presidency says it all: “The Time of Illusion.” Similarly straightforward is the title of Mark Hertsgaard’s book, “On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency,” in which he quotes a former deputy White House press secretary Leslie Janka saying, “The whole thing was P.R. This was a P.R. outfit that became president and took over the country. And to the degree then which the Constitution forced them to do things like make a budget, run a foreign policy and all that, they sort of did. But their first, last and overarching activity was public relations.”
While most of the more than 150 journalists and news executives Hertsgaard interviewed “rejected the idea that Ronald Reagan had gotten a free ride from U.S. news organizations,” none other than Reagan’s director of communications David Gergen contradicted them, saying, “I think a lot of the Teflon came because the press was holding back.”
Echoing Hertsgaard, Lucas Graves’ new book, “Deciding What’s True: The Rise of Political Fact-Checking in American Journalism,” notes how the press basically abandoned fact-checking Reagan’s almost-constant flood of lies. Writing about the book for the Washington Post, Heidi N. Moore notes"


Lies, damned lies and Donald Trump: How the Reagan and Bush assaults on truth and science may presage what’s coming - Salon.com

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