By Justin Galle
I was recently working with a guy who was talking about the presidential debates. He clearly wasn’t a fan of Hillary Clinton, which is understandable. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who’s truly a fan of Hillary, even among her (oftentimes reluctant) supporters, a group I include myself in. What I didn’t understand was when, scoffing, he approached the subject of post-debate fact-checking.
I’ve never considered that someone could regard objective fact with such disdain. Both liberal and conservative politicians can be regularly caught lying, but to expose these lies should never be considered a partisan issue, should it?
Conservative talk radio personality Rush Limbaugh recently described media fact-checking as a left-wing technique “…designed to say to you that it is objective and analytically fair, and all it is is a vehicle for them to do opinion journalism under the guise of fairness.”
The thing about facts is that they’re verifiable. In the age of infinite information readily available to anyone with a smartphone, it’s easier than ever to find trustworthy sources for your information. To be anti-fact, then, must require a certain level of cognitive dissonance.
Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Nowhere will you find greater resentment for easily-verifiable fact than among Donald Trump and his supporters. Trump is a man who can spend years insinuating that Barack Obama is a foreign-born Muslim (he’s an American Christian) and then claim Hillary Clinton started it. Not only was it not long ago enough for me to forget when Trump perpetuated these lies, but he hasn’t even bothered to delete his Tweets on the matter:
For the record, nearly half of Trump’s supporters still believe some of these things, despite evidence to the contrary.
He also denies ever saying that climate change is a Chinese hoax when his original Tweet is still available, and he claims he never called Marco Rubio Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator, though that information is available on Trump’s own campaign website.
What’s frightening to me is not that Donald Trump lies. Of course he does. He’s a politician. It’s scary that Trump can lie so boldly without even trying to hide that he’s lying. It’s all available on Twitter, but it makes no difference. At least when Joseph McCarthy was exposed, his career was ruined. When politicians can deceive their publics without being held accountable, fact becomes nothing more than liberal bias, and lies are free to become truth.