Advertisement

Lies, Damn Lies, Alternative Facts, Fake News, Propaganda, Pinocchios, Pants on Fire, Disinformation, Misinformation, Post-Truth, Data, and Statistics

  • Robert N. Spicer
Chapter

Abstract

The first chapter of this book sets the stage for the legal analysis that makes up the bulk of the project. It will pay special attention to the political discourse about dishonesty surrounding the 2016 presidential campaign. The chapter will begin with a discussion of the way discourses about political deception and dishonesty permeated the 2016 campaign and the early stages of the Trump presidency. This will be a brief discussion looking at a few categories of discursive objects that were the highest-profile parts of the election. It will look at the concept of “fake news” and how that term evolved in its use through Trump, his opponents, and his surrogates. This will lead into a discussion about the debate within the news media about how to handle (i.e. describe) false statements President Trump made during the campaign, through the transition, and into the beginning of his presidency. The chapter concludes with an explanation of the notion of “post-truth” politics as it was defined through the lens of the Trump era.

Keywords

Trump Post-truth Fake news Political communication Deception Campaigns Freedom of speech 

References

  1. Adler, J. (1997). Lying, deceiving, or falsely implicating. The Journal of Philosophy, 94(9), 435–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aistrup, J. (1996). The southern strategy revisited. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press.Google Scholar
  3. Alcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social media and fake news in the 2016 Election. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), 211–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balmas, M. (2014). When fake news becomes real: Combined exposure to multiple news sources and political attitudes of inefficacy, alienation, and cynicism. Communication Research, 41(3), 430–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Balz, D. (2017a, May 13). Comey firing shows White House problems go far beyond communications strategy. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/comey-firing-shows-white-house-problems-go-far-beyond-communications-strategy/2017/05/13/b00e0bfe-375d-11e7-b412-62beef8121f7_story.html?utm_term=.810b430fd101
  6. Balz, D. (2017b, March 18). What will it take for the president to retract his tweets about Obama? The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/what-will-it-take-for-the-president-to-retract-his-tweets-about-obama/2017/03/18/a01b1ca0-0bf2-11e7-93dc-00f9bdd74ed1_story.html?utm_term=.ad20da13233d
  7. Barbash, F. (2017, May 25). Fox News crew ‘watched in disbelief’ as Montana’s Greg Gianforte ‘slammed’ and ‘began punching’ reporter. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/05/25/fox-news-crew-watched-in-disbelief-as-gianforte-slammed-and-punched-reporter/?utm_term=.8cefcfaaa9cc
  8. Barry, D. (2017, January 25). In a swirl of ‘untruths’ and ‘falsehoods,’ calling a lie a lie. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/business/media/donald-trump-lie-media.html?mcubz=0
  9. Bazelon, E., Dickerson, J., & Plotz, D. (2017). The “glowing orb” edition. Slate’s Political Gabfest. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/gabfest/2017/05/the_budget_trump_s_trip_abroad_and_a_supreme_court_ruling_on_gerrymandering.html
  10. Beutler, B. (2017, July 20). We’re on the brink of an authoritarian crisis. The New Republic. Retrieved from https://newrepublic.com/article/143984/were-brink-authoritarian-crisis
  11. Bixby, S. (2016, March 31). Donald Trump meets with Republican Party leaders. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2016/mar/31/us-election-2016-live-trump-cruz-kasich-clinton-sanders-campaign
  12. Bok, S. (1999). Lying: Moral choice in public and private life. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  13. Borchers, C. (2017, January 3). Media standards on lies and false statements are changing fast. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/03/media-standards-on-lies-and-false-statements-are-changing-fast/?utm_term=.12eeb9dcb915
  14. Brewer, P., Young, D., & Morreale, M. (2013). The impact of real news about “fake news”: Intertextual processes and political satire. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 25(3), 323–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Calcutt, A. (2016, November 21). The truth about post-truth politics. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/truth-post-truth-politics-donald-trump-liberals-tony-blair-523198
  16. Cheney, K. (2016, September 25). Donald Trump’s week of misrepresentations, exaggerations and half-truths. Politico. Retrieved from http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/2016-donald-trump-fact-check-week-214287
  17. Coe, J. (2017, January 27). Is Donald Trump ‘Mr. Brexit’? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/opinion/sunday/is-donald-trump-mr-brexit.html?mcubz=0
  18. Crudele, J. (1987, March 5). Talking deals; Trump forays on Wall Street. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/05/business/talking-deals-trump-forays-on-wall-street.html?mcubz=0
  19. Davies, W. (2016, August 24). The age of post-truth politics. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/opinion/campaign-stops/the-age-of-post-truth-politics.html?_r=2
  20. Davies, W. (2017, January 19). How statistics lost their power – And why we should fear what comes next. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/19/crisis-of-statistics-big-data-democracy
  21. Day, A., & Thompson, E. (2012). Live from New York, it’s the fake news! Saturday Night Live and the (non)politics of parody. Popular Communication, 10(1/2), 170–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dickerson, J. (2016). Whistlestop: My favorite stories from presidential campaign history. New York: Twelve.Google Scholar
  23. Drogin, B. (2007). Curveball: Spies, lies, and the con man who caused a war. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  24. The Economist. (2016, September 10). Yes, I’d lie to you. The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21706498-dishonesty-politics-nothing-new-manner-which-some-politicians-now-lie-and
  25. Fandos, N. (2017, January 24). Trump won’t back down from his voting fraud lie. Here are the facts. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/24/us/politics/unauthorized-immigrant-voting-trump-lie.html?mcubz=0
  26. Farsetta, D. (2006, March 16). Fake TV news: Widespread and undisclosed. The Center for Media and Democracy. Retrieved from http://www.prwatch.org/fakenews/execsummary
  27. Feldman, N. (2016, November 23). Fake news may not be protected speech. Bloomberg View. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-23/fake-news-may-not-be-protected-speech
  28. Finnegan, M. (2016, September 26). Scope of Trump’s falsehoods unprecedented for a modern presidential candidate. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-false-statements-20160925-snap-story.html
  29. Gonzales, R. (2017, January 25). NPR and the word ‘liar’: Intent is key. National Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/25/511503605/npr-and-the-l-word-intent-is-key
  30. Griffin, R. (2017, April 12). When Trump talks about ‘fake news,’ he probably means Russia coverage. Poynter. Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/2017/when-trump-talks-about-fake-news-he-probably-means-russia-coverage/455505/
  31. Grynbaum, M. (2017, February 17). Trump calls the news media the ‘enemy of the American people.’ The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/business/trump-calls-the-news-media-the-enemy-of-the-people.html?_r=0
  32. Haberman, M., & Burns, A. (2016, September 24). A week of whoppers from Donald Trump. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/24/us/elections/donald-trump-statements.html?_r=2
  33. Higgins, A., McIntire, M., & Dance, G. (2016, November 25). Inside a fake news sausage factory: ‘This is all about income.’ The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/world/europe/fake-news-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-georgia.html
  34. Holan, A. (2016, December 13). 2016 Lie of the Year: Fake news. Politifact. Retrieved from http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/dec/13/2016-lie-year-fake-news/
  35. Ingram, M. (2017, January 26). When should journalists use the ‘L’ word? Fortune. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2017/01/26/donald-trump-facts-lies/
  36. Isenberg, A. (1964). Deontology and the ethics of lying. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 24(4), 463–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jaffe, A. (2017, January 22). Kellyanne Conway: WH spokesman gave ‘alternative facts’ on inauguration crowd. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/wh-spokesman-gave-alternative-facts-inauguration-crowd-n710466
  38. Jamieson, A. (2017, January 11). ‘You are fake news’: Trump attacks CNN and BuzzFeed at press conference. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/11/trump-attacks-cnn-buzzfeed-at-press-conference
  39. Jonas, F. (1957). The art of political dynamiting. The Western Political Quarterly, 10(2), 374–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kessler, G. (2017, January 22). Spicer earns Four Pinocchios for false claims on inauguration crowd size. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/01/22/spicer-earns-four-pinocchios-for-a-series-of-false-claims-on-inauguration-crowd-size/?utm_term=.61db0e842051
  41. Kranish, M., DelReal, J., & Sullivan, S. (2016, September 24). Trump’s week reveals bleak view, dubious statements in ‘alternative universe.’ The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-week-reveals-bleak-view-dubious-statements-in-alternative-universe/2016/09/24/4f8a6ff6-80cf-11e6-b002-307601806392_story.html?utm_term=.30153a1ef037
  42. Kurtz, H. (2016, September 25). Prepping for tomorrow night’s presidential debate [Television broadcast]. In Media Buzz. New York: Fox News Channel.Google Scholar
  43. Kurtzleben, D. (2017, February 17). With ‘fake news,’ Trump moves from alternative facts to alternative language. National Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2017/02/17/515630467/with-fake-news-trump-moves-from-alternative-facts-to-alternative-language
  44. Leonhardt, D. (2017, January 6). Lies, journalism and objectivity. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/opinion/lies-journalism-and-objectivity.html
  45. Lombroso, D., & Applebaum, Y. (2016, November 21). ‘Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists salute the President-elect. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379/
  46. Love, R. (2007, March/April). Before Jon Stewart: The truth about fake news. Believe it. Columbia Journalism Review, 45(6), 33–37.Google Scholar
  47. Marcus, R. (2017, January 6). The huge challenge of covering Trump fairly. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-huge-challenge-of-covering-trump-fairly/2017/01/06/0472ad76-d458-11e6-a783-cd3fa950f2fd_story.html?utm_term=.740ce20e5738
  48. Marquez, X. (2017, January 26). This is why authoritarian leaders use the ‘Big Lie.’ The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/01/26/this-is-why-authoritarian-leaders-use-the-big-lie/?utm_term=.9358b8589f8a
  49. Mayer, J. (2016, July 25). Donald Trump’s ghostwriter tells all. The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/donald-trumps-ghostwriter-tells-all
  50. Mayhew, F. (2017, January 27). John Rentoul: NYT calling Trump a ‘liar’ in reports is an ‘abdication of responsibility to journalism.’ Press Gazette. Retrieved from http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/john-rentoul-nyt-calling-trump-a-liar-in-reports-is-an-abdication-of-responsibility-to-journalism/
  51. McWilliams, M. (2016). The one weird trait that predicts whether you’re a Trump supporter. Politico. Retrieved from http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-2016-authoritarian-213533
  52. Murphy, K. (2017, April 5). Cambridge Analytica: Trump’s data mining advisers to meet Australia’s Liberal MPs. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/apr/05/donald-trumps-data-mining-advisers-to-meet-liberal-mps-in-canberra
  53. Nesbit, J. (2016, October 25). Donald Trump supporters are using a Nazi word to attack journalists. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/4544562/donald-trump-supporters-lugenpresse/
  54. O’Keefe, E. (2017, February 12). Bernie Sanders calls Trump a ‘pathological liar’; Al Franken says ‘a few’ Republicans think Trump is mentally ill. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/02/12/bernie-sanders-calls-trump-a-pathological-liar-al-franken-says-a-few-republicans-think-trump-is-mentally-ill/?utm_term=.1db25da2df5f
  55. Parkinson, H. (2016, November 14). Click and elect: How fake news helped Donald Trump win a real election. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/14/fake-news-donald-trump-election-alt-right-social-media-tech-companies
  56. Pengelly, M. (2017, February 12). Al Franken repeats senators’ concern that Trump is ‘not right mentally.’ The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/12/al-franken-senate-concern-trump-not-right-mentally
  57. Pepinsky, T. (2017, January 23). Dictators use the media differently than narcissists and bullies. Tom Pepinsky.com. Retrieved from https://tompepinsky.com/2017/01/23/dictators-use-the-media-differently-than-narcissists-and-bullies/
  58. Perlstein, R. (2012, November 13). Exclusive: Lee Atwater’s infamous 1981 interview on the southern strategy. The Nation. Retrieved from https://www.thenation.com/article/exclusive-lee-atwaters-infamous-1981-interview-southern-strategy/
  59. Perrott, K. (2016, November 14). ‘Fake news’ on social media influenced US election voters, experts say. Australian Broadcasting Corporation News. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-14/fake-news-would-have-influenced-us-election-experts-say/8024660
  60. Pitts, L. (2017, January 4). Media must take a moral stand. The Miami Herald. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article124444124.html
  61. Pollack, K. (2004). Spies, lies, and weapons: What went wrong. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/01/spies-lies-and-weapons-what-went-wrong/302878/
  62. Postman, N. (1993). Technopoly. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  63. Prokop, A. (2017, January 24). Spicergate, explained: The controversy about Trump’s press secretary and crowd size. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/24/14356628/sean-spicer-trump-crowds
  64. Qiu, L. (2017, January 21). Donald Trump had biggest inaugural crowd ever? Metrics don’t show it. Politifact. Retrieved from http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/jan/21/sean-spicer/trump-had-biggest-inaugural-crowd-ever-metrics-don/
  65. Rahn, W., & Oliver, E. (2016, March 9). Trump’s voters aren’t authoritarians, new research says. So what are they? The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/09/trumps-voters-arent-authoritarians-new-research-says-so-what-are-they/?utm_term=.c3a26ad97a8a
  66. Reilly, I. (2012). Satirical fake news and/as American political discourse. The Journal of American Culture, 35(3), 258–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Rosenstiel, T. (2016, December 20). What the post-Trump debate over journalism gets wrong. The Brookings Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/what-the-debate-over-journalism-post-trump-gets-wrong/
  68. Sargent, G. (2017, January 2). Yes, Donald Trump ‘lies.’ A lot. And news organizations should say so. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/01/02/yes-donald-trump-lies-a-lot-and-news-organizations-should-say-so/?utm_term=.3f82fa4c4e91
  69. Savransky, R. (2017, January 11). Trump berates CNN reporter: ‘You are fake news.’ The Hill. Retrieved from http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/313777-trump-berates-cnn-reporter-for-fake-news
  70. Shaer, M. (2017, April). Fighting the Nazis with fake news. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/fighting-nazis-fake-news-180962481/
  71. Shear, M., & Haberman, M. (2017, January 26). Trump called National Park chief over Twitter post on inaugural crowd. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/us/politics/trump-inauguration-crowd-size-park-chief.html
  72. Shear, M., & Huetteman, E. (2017, January 23). Trump repeats lie about popular vote in meeting with lawmakers. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/us/politics/donald-trump-congress-democrats.html?mcubz=0
  73. Silverman, C. (2016, November 16). This analysis shows how viral fake election news stories outperformed real news on Facebook. Buzzfeed. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/viral-fake-election-news-outperformed-real-news-on-facebook?
  74. Singal, J. (2017, January 5). The debate over whether journalists should call Donald Trump’s false statements ‘lies’ is a red herring. New York Magazine. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/01/the-debate-over-trump-lies-is-a-distraction.html
  75. Singer, M. (2016). Trump and me. New York: Tim Duggan Books.Google Scholar
  76. Slack, D. (2017, January 11). Trump to CNN: ‘You are fake news.’ USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/01/11/trump-cnn-press-conference/96447880/
  77. St. Onge, P. (2017, January 8). When should we call out a Donald Trump lie? The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved from http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article125080699.html
  78. Stanek, B. (2016, November 10). Newt Gingrich admits Trump probably can’t get Mexico to pay for his wall. ‘But it was a great campaign device.’ The Week. Retrieved from http://theweek.com/speedreads/661335/newt-gingrich-admits-trump-probably-cant-mexico-pay-wall-but-great-campaign-device
  79. Stanley, J. (2016, November 4). Beyond lying: Donald Trump’s authoritarian reality. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/05/opinion/beyond-lying-donald-trumps-authoritarian-reality.html?mcubz=0
  80. Stein, J., & Dickinson, T. (2006). Lie by lie: A timeline of how we got into Iraq. Mother Jones. Retrieved from http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/leadup-iraq-war-timeline
  81. Stelter, B. (2016, September 26). The weekend America’s newspaper called Donald Trump a liar. CNN. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/25/media/newspapers-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-lies/
  82. Subramanian, S. (2017). Welcome to Velez, Macedonia, the fake news factory to the world. Wired, 25(3), 70–79.Google Scholar
  83. Sulkin, T. (2010). Promises made and promises kept. In L. Dodd & B. Oppenheimer (Eds.), Congress reconsidered (pp. 119–140). Washington, DC: CQ Press.Google Scholar
  84. Sutton, K. (2017, January 11). Trump calls CNN ‘fake news,’ as channel defends its reporting on intelligence briefing. Politico. Retrieved from http://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2017/01/trump-refusing-to-answer-question-from-cnn-reporter-you-are-fake-news-233485
  85. Swaim, B. (2017, January 8). What Congress can teach us about calling Trump a ‘liar.’ The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2017/01/08/what-congress-can-teach-us-about-calling-trump-a-liar/?utm_term=.7ac0f119f545
  86. Talbot, M. (2016, September 28). Trump and the truth: The “lying” media. The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/trump-and-the-truth-the-lying-media
  87. Taylor, J. (2017, January 21). Trump Administration goes to war with the media over inauguration crowd size. National Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2017/01/21/510994742/trump-administration-goes-to-war-with-the-media-over-inauguration-crowd-size
  88. Tesich, S. (1992, January 6/13). A government of lies. The Nation, 254(1), 12–14.Google Scholar
  89. Todd, , C. (Host) (2017, January 1). Meet the Press [Television Broadcast]. New York: NBC.Google Scholar
  90. Trump, D. [Donald Trump]. (2017, February 17). The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People! [tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/832708293516632065
  91. United States v. Alvarez, 132 U.S. 2537 (2012)Google Scholar
  92. USA Today. (2017, March 17). The wild wiretapping charge. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/03/06/trump-twitter-wiretap-obama-editorials-debates/98820592/
  93. Viner, K. (2016, July 12). How technology disrupted the truth. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth
  94. Wall Street Journal. (2017, March 21). A president’s credibility. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-presidents-credibility-1490138920
  95. Wang, A. (2016, November 16). ‘Post-truth’ named 2016 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/16/post-truth-named-2016-word-of-the-year-by-oxford-dictionaries/?utm_term=.d8a6177ebaf0
  96. White House. (2017, June 8). Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/08/press-gaggle-principal-deputy-press-secretary-sarah-sanders

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert N. Spicer
    • 1
  1. 1.Millersville UniversityMillersvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations