Taking Trump at his word

In September 2016, Salena Zito, who was then covering voters in The Heartland, wrote of the then-candidate Donald Trump, in a column for The Atlantic: “the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” The phrase quickly slipped into Trumplore. Trump allies, such as Peter Thiel, invoked it to argue that while reporters and fact checkers obsessed over the fine print of Trump’s pronouncements on, say, banning Muslims from the US and building a wall at the southern border, his supporters were hearing more general pledges to, say, reform immigration. Trump critics, such as Dara Lind, then of Vox, complained about the moral and factual slipperiness of such logic—criticisms that were vindicated when Trump moved to literally ban Muslims and literally build his wall almost as soon as he took office. Ever since then, the literally/seriously motif has echoed, Zelig-like, through the press. We’ve heard of Trump being taken seriously and literally, seriously but not literally (by the media this time), and neither seriously nor literally—the latter because, as The Atlantic’s David Frum put it last year, the president’s “words are as worthless as Trump Organization IOUs.” In large part, the phrase and the many variations thereupon are hard to pin down because Trump himself is hard to pin down. Since taking office, he’s said literally tens of thousands of things that aren’t true while also pursuing his more extreme campaign... Continue reading at 'Columbia Journalism Review'

[ Columbia Journalism Review | 2020-08-03 12:05:46 UTC ]
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[ The Huffington Post | 2020-09-30 17:39:42 UTC ]
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[ The Washington Post | 2020-10-09 12:00:00 UTC ]
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[ Stuff | 2019-01-05 00:00:00 UTC ]
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