"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rewriting History: Coda

Towleroad has a good summary of the Trump administration's "alternative facts" strategy, as I sketched out yesterday, with this analysis, which is right on the mark:

Everyone should read this post written by an alleged member of a former administration that was posted on a DC message board and has gone viral, because, despite the anonymity of its author, it is an important explanation of what’s going on here:

If you are puzzled by the bizarre “press conference” put on by the White House press secretary this evening (angrily claiming that Trump’s inauguration had the largest audience in history, accusing them of faking photos and lying about attendance), let me help explain it. This spectacle served three purposes:

1. Establishing a norm with the press: they will be told things that are obviously wrong and they will have no opportunity to ask questions. That way, they will be grateful if they get anything more at any press conference. This is the PR equivalent of “negging,” the odious pick-up practice of a particular kind of horrible person (e.g., Donald Trump).

2. Increasing the separation between Trump’s base (1/3 of the population) from everybody else (the remaining 2/3). By being told something that is obviously wrong—that there is no evidence for and all evidence against, that anybody with eyes can see is wrong—they are forced to pick whether they are going to believe Trump or their lying eyes. The gamble here—likely to pay off—is that they will believe Trump. This means that they will regard media outlets that report the truth as “fake news” (because otherwise they’d be forced to confront their cognitive dissonance.)

3. Creating a sense of uncertainty about whether facts are knowable, among a certain chunk of the population (which is a taking a page from the Kremlin, for whom this is their preferred disinformation tactic). A third of the population will say “clearly the White House is lying,” a third will say “if Trump says it, it must be true,” and the remaining third will say “gosh, I guess this is unknowable.” The idea isn’t to convince these people of untrue things, it’s to fatigue them, so that they will stay out of the political process entirely, regarding the truth as just too difficult to determine.

This is laying important groundwork for the months ahead. If Trump’s White House is willing to lie about something as obviously, unquestionably fake as this, just imagine what else they’ll lie about. In particular, things that the public cannot possibly verify the truth of. It’s gonna get real bad.

Welcome to Kremlin Lite.

Footnote: The next step is to control access to data:

During a discussion about the future of the Affordable Care Act, MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid pointed out that Trump's White House was already lying about how the GOP's plan to "replace" Obamacare would leave millions without insurance.

"People are being hurt by their coverage being diminished, by their opportunities to get insurance being diminished," Reid explained. "And [White House Press Secretary] Sean Spicer comes out and says, 'No, they're not. Nobody is suffering.' And then you try to find the data on people's insurance and HHS just doesn't give it to you."

"That's where we are," MSNBC analyst Joan Walsh agreed. "I think we're really in a place where they're going to scrub the data. They're scrubbing websites now.

And this:

The mind boggles.

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