I read something yesterday that freaked me out. Like a lot.
But first, you need to know two things:
- The women’s march on Washington was bigger than Trump’s inauguration.
- Obama’s inaugurations were both bigger than Trump’s.
This has been substantiated by numbers from the Washington Metro. Politifact has links to tweets from the Metro about the numbers of riders on the individual days about 2/3 of the way down this article. (Politifact rated White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claim that “That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period” as “pants on fire.”)
Fox News posted an AP fact-check article about the claim that Trump was wrong about the crowd size. They said, “THE FACTS: Trump is wrong,” and followed up with the evidence linked above.
Here’s a video. (It zooms in at the end when Trump starts speaking).
Review the evidence. Take as long as you need. Do your own research; use google. Article after article confirms that Trump did not have the biggest crowds. Not even close.
Because this is the part where Fox News and Breitbart (and God knows who else) perpetuated Trump’s lies. Breitbart is infinitely worse. Like “Dear God I wish their readers were being lied to by Fox News instead” worse.
This article on Fox News, which was the headline story yesterday (January 22), and is still on their front page, ends like this:
Priebus also defended Trump and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments Saturday about the news media underreporting the crowd size at Trump’s swearing-in Friday.
At a hastily called White House press conference, Spicer angrily accused the media of “false reporting” on the inauguration as part of what he called a “shameful” attempt to minimize enthusiasm for Trump. He then left without taking questions.
Priebus said Sunday: “The point is not the crowd. The point is the media is trying to delegitimize the presidency.”
Notice anything that’s conspicuously absent from that quote?
A fact check.
Fox News apparently feels they have done their due diligence by posting the AP Fact Check, which is buried so far it isn’t even on their front page anymore, if it ever was.
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was, at most, an open debate.
And that bit of lie-by-omission was nothing compared to the incredible psychological programming attempted by Breitbart. Nothing.
But before you get started, you should know one thing: Breitbart never actually says that our president is telling the truth. Not once. There are a few sneaky places where they could be easily construed as saying he’s telling the truth, but they never actually say it. Not once.
That being said, we’re going on an adventure of crazy, where, by the end, if you didn’t know the facts about the crowd size, you could be forgiven for thinking the media was lying and Trump was telling the truth.
In the headline, we see our plucky billionaire president telling it like it is. The headline text says, “Donald Trump: Press Lying About Inauguration Crowd Size.”
Notice what it doesn’t say: “Mainstream Media: Trump Wrong About Inauguration Crowd Size.” The mainstream media did in fact say that, because it’s true, but this story is a narrative about how the press lied about the crowd size.
Also notice: it says Donald Trump is the one saying this. If anybody calls them on this headline, they can just shrug and say, “He did say it; we never said it was true.”
This short synopsis is sheer brilliance. Look at how they describe the president and the press conference, compared to how they describe the media.
President Donald Trump. Talking to the CIA, at CIA headquarters. If that doesn’t scream legitimacy, I don’t know what does.
Running war. That’s the pivot point. Our good president is engaged in a righteous war with…
The dishonest media. Latest lies. Misleading reports. Breitbart includes three Trump attacks on the media’s credibility before we even find out what they said. By this time, the Breitbart regulars are rolling their eyes. “Can you believe the lying liberal media? Gosh.”
Once again: the claims about the media are in quotes, meaning Breitbart isn’t saying them, they’re just quoting Trump.
This is genius.
Before we read for the first time in the article what Trump says the media showed, we have been exposed to six claims that the media is untrustworthy: “Press lying,” “dishonest media,” “their latest lies,” “misleading reports,” “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and “falsely.” By the time we get to Trump saying the media “showed an empty field,” we already know they’re lying liars who tell lies.
Also notice this: “The 400 CIA employees broke into applause.” Why do we need to know that? Because gosh, if the CIA are applauding the claim that the press are dishonest, among the most dishonest human beings on earth, it must be true. 400 CIA employees can’t be wrong!
Finally, re-read that last paragraph.
If you don’t look too close, it seems like Breitbart is reporting on the media’s false reporting of Trump’s feud with the intelligence community. You don’t realize they’ve attributed that claim to Trump until the next line, and by that time you could be forgiven for thinking the feud with the intelligence community was a fiction invented by the lying media. It wasn’t.
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Not only does Breitbart fail to fact-check this claim and declare it for the falsehood that it is, they fail to use quotation marks and skew the sentence structure in such a way as to make their readers believe they agree with it – without ever actually saying it’s true. (Because it’s not, and that’d be a lie, don’tcha know?)
Now that we’ve been programmed to distrust the media (told they’re untrustworthy six times in six different ways, we read “The media “showed an empty field.”
Imagine the Breitbart regulars: “Can you believe those lying liberal media? Can you even believe it? Ridiculous. I saw the inauguration, that field was nowhere near empty.”
This is the brilliance: They report what Trump said, in quotes, about what the media showed. Even though it’s not what the media showed, that doesn’t matter because we’ve already been told six times not to trust the media. At this point the Breitbart regulars will believe anything about the media. “The media said aliens from outer space built the White House? I wouldn’t put it past them!”
Now here comes The Big Lie.
Massive field. You saw that. A million and a half people.
At this point, the rage meter is still climbing.
Trump has done at least two things:
- He has claimed that the media showed an empty field, which they didn’t, but now the Breitbart regulars, who know the media is lying, are sure they saw a picture of an empty field on Fox News, which can no longer be trusted, but they also remember seeing huge crowds, because from the angle of the platform, the crowds did look pretty darn big. What should we trust? The lying media, or our own eyes?
- He has estimated the crowd size at 1.5 million people. 1.5 million is the only number that appears in this article. No counter-numbers are provided. Nothing from the WMTA.
This is especially troubling to me because this is how we get Republicans with alternative (and false) facts.
Next week, I predict there will be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Breitbart readers who actually think Trump’s inauguration was bigger than Obama’s, and 1.5 million people showed up. And anyone who says different was being deceived by the lying liberal media.
And finally, he says, “We caught them.” This is exactly what the Breitbart regulars want. They know the liberal media are lying liars who tell lies, but they’ve been waiting for something concrete that they can throw up in their deceived liberal friends’ newsfeeds. Finally, the liars have been caught, and finally, somebody is going to make them pay.
Except for one problem: They haven’t been caught at all! Trump is wrong here; even Fox News says so, but Breitbart reports, without contradiction, that the President of the United States has told 400 members of the CIA, to applause, that the media has been caught in a lie.
This is terrifying.
It becomes even more insidious. That highlighted sentence above implies that Breitbart is affirming that the media’s claims about the inaugural crowd size were lies – but it doesn’t actually say that. It says Trump noted another lie perpetuated by the media. The word “another” is in reference to Trump’s claim that the the media misrepresented the crowd sizes. Breitbart still hasn’t said a single thing that could be explicitly proven false.
The best part: This MLK bust thing is true. Sort of. Zeke Miller did indeed report that the bust of MLK was gone, and that was indeed false, but it wasn’t a lie, he just couldn’t see it at the time, and when he realized it was inaccurate, he corrected it.
Then we have a paragraph about that evil ex-president Barack Hussein Obama – how dare he remove Winston Churchill from the Oval Office?! Thank God that horrible man is gone.
I skipped over a paragraph where Trump says “But this is how dishonest the media is.”
There’s a link to more lies by the liberal media, which is really just the mistake about the MLK bust and the story of Sean Spicer saying the media lied about the crowd sizes again.
Repeat programming: “Deliberately false reporting,” Intentionally framed… to minimize the enormous support,” “falsely tweeted,” “just plain wrong,” and our work here is done.
Ya’ll, this is some terrifying stuff. Thirteen individual repetitions of the claim that the media is dishonest and lying, and not a single one of them attributable to Breitbart, even though Breitbart jammed their article full of them.
They’ve managed to pass off Trump’s lie – about something as simple as crowd size, easily falsified – as the truth, and the media as liars for calling him on it.
This is how you kill democracy. Not by taking over the media, but by creating “alternative media” that reports on your lies as though they’re true and delegitimizes anyone who calls you on your own lies as dishonest liars.
My dad stopped reading the local paper and started reading Breitbart because he doesn’t trust the media.
Breitbart isn’t reporting on the lying media.
Breitbart is the lying media.
And if they perpetuated this lie, so simple, so easily falsified, and so unimportant, I shudder to think what sort of nonsense their regular readers believe about other things.
If you think “Nobody would fall for that,” click over to the article read the comments.
God save us.
And if you know anybody who reads Breitbart, share this with them if they’re not too far gone.
Update: It’s already started.