Fact-checkers worldwide gathered in Buenos Aires last week for their third annual conclave and guess what was a favorite topic? Yup, Donald Trump. U.S. attendees from The Washington Post, FactCheck.org and PolitiFact, among many others, said (as one put it) “Trump responds differently to their work compared to other politicians — more specifically, he doesn’t respond at all.” (Poynter) It’s the combination of his deceits and his repetitive refusal to back down even when proven wrong. Counterparts from around the globe conceded that they, too, are looking closely at his campaign, even if they suggest he’s both unique and not a total outlier on the world stage.
But is it merely falsehoods he’s offering as he calls a judge a “Mexican,” smears Muslims and President Obama and denies shafting single working moms at his sham university? Or as he lies about how many people were waiting to get into his rally last night in Dallas? (The Dallas Morning News) Does it go deeper and morph into the sort of propaganda synonymous with George Orwell’s “1984?”
He does, after all, seem to be intentionally mangling truth to advance his political agenda. It’s quite like Orwell’s world where war is deemed peace and work is considered play. Bankruptcy is a sign of responsibility. Women are debased as an adoration for them is professed. The great populist is sued for cheating lots of small contractors. It calls to mind the late Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens, who underscored how Orwell discerned that words were starting to mean anything but what they appeared to mean. We thus had, as Hitchens put it, “the outline of a discourse in which, for example, ‘freedom is slavery’ was slowly taking shape in his mind.” (The Guardian)