George Boardman: Trump’s an expert when it comes to deciding fake news media awards | TheUnion.com

George Boardman: Trump’s an expert when it comes to deciding fake news media awards

George Boardman
Columnist

President Donald Trump tweeted last week that he would announce "The Most Dishonest & Corrupt Media Awards of the Year" later today, honoring — if that's the word — "dishonest and bad reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media."

That prompted Stephen Colbert, the host of "Late Night," to immediately begin campaigning for several of the awards, including "Outstanding Achievement in Parroting George Soros' Talking Points" and "The Eric Trump Memorial Award for Disappointment."

But Colbert may be wasting his time. Trump announced the awards before "Fire and Fury," the inside story of the man-child we elected president, came to the attention of the public.

You have to like the chance of Michael Wolff's tell-all sweeping the awards.

But there’s one thing we know for sure: When it comes to faking it, it takes one to know one..

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Wolff, who has, shall we say, a sketchy reputation for "truthiness," was apparently given almost unlimited access to meetings and other gatherings in the West Wing of The White House in the early days of the Trump administration. Now he's being maligned as a gossip-monger and liar.

The end result, according to Trump, is a fake book. His lawyers are threatening to sue Steve Bannon for violating a non-disclosure agreement, and they're attempting to halt distribution of the book. But as former press secretary Sean Spicer has noted, what you're not hearing from The White House is denials.

Trump didn't invent the term "fake news," but he has certainly popularized it since he started his run for president. Trump seems to be obsessed with the media's coverage of him, and can't let any real or imagined slight go unchallenged.

But then everybody knows he has a big ego. When it comes to fake news, Trump is usually referring to news coverage he doesn't like, that makes him look bad or exposes another of his many lies.

The so-called lame-stream media has produced its share of stories about Trump that were not properly vetted or were released without sufficient fact checking, but that's not the same as creating fake news to advance a political agenda. To find truly fake news, you have to dredge the sewer that Facebook has become or consult some of the favorite news sources of Trump's supporters, like InfoWars, Breitbart News and others of their ilk.

Much of the news coverage Trump doesn't like is generated by leaks from members of his administration. The White House staff is apparently divided into factions that compete for his attention, which means they waste a lot of time fighting intramural wars instead of conducting the nation's business. Warfare includes trying to torpedo the opposition by leaking unfavorable information to the media.

But much of Trump's problem with the media stems from his inability to adhere to anything resembling the truth. His incessant need to always win, to never be wrong or look bad, pressures him to lie on a regular basis. Trump appears to have a genetic defect that makes it impossible for him to stick to the truth.

To be sure, every one of Trump's predecessors — well, maybe not George Washington, who never told a lie, or honest Abe Lincoln — has shaded the truth, cherry picked the facts to make him look good, made misleading statements, and even lied ("I am not a crook" is one that comes to mind). But nobody can match Trump when it comes to lying on a regular basis.

The Washington Post reported in November that Trump had lied 1,628 times in 298 days, an average of 5.5 a day. That includes lies he's repeated multiple times; Trump apparently adheres to the old propaganda theory that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it. Maybe he actually believes them.

The lying started on inauguration day, when Spicer was ordered to contradict media reports of a light turnout at the swearing in ceremony. But then Trump was in a bad mood that day, according to Wolff's book. Among other things, he didn't like the accommodations at Blair House, the traditional residence of the president-elect the night before he's sworn it. (I'm guessing it doesn't have enough gold-plated bathroom fixtures.)

Fake news isn't a problem that's unique to the United States. The head of Sweden's secret service said recently that he's not just dealing with an increased threat of terrorism, but also the impact of disinformation and fake news. French President Emmanuel Macron wants to place limitations on social media platforms during election periods "to protect democracy."

If Macron gets his way, authorities would be able to remove or block websites that publish fake news during election cycles. Naturally, government officials will decide what's fake news. Good luck with that.

If Trump actually announces his fake news awards today — he may be more concerned with Corey Lewandowski's pursuit of Hope Hicks or whether his Big Mac has been poisoned — he will probably have the attention of the lame-stream media.

Most of them would consider it an honor to get such an award, much like the reporters who swelled with pride when they learned they made Richard Nixon's enemies list.

But there's one thing we know for sure: When it comes to faking it, it takes one to know one.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at ag101board@aol.com.

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