As does Morning Joe: This morning, the Washington Post's official fact-checker announced that Donald J. Trump has reached an auspicious milestone.
The fact-checker in question is Glenn Kessler. His rise to prominence started right here, during Campaign 2000, when we announced that he was the answer to a widely-voiced question of that era, namely "Who Da Man?"
In response to something he'd written, we announced that Kessler was "Da Man." Today, he announces Trump's achievement in a cool, clear, nuanced manner, one which respects the wisdom of the ages and the somewhat limited reach of the human mind.
Hard-copy banner headline included, this is the way he and two colleagues begin:
KESSLER, RIZZO AND KELLY (4/30/2019): Fallacy in five figures: Trump blusters past 10,000 false or misleading claimsAccording to the Post's admittedly subjective census, Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims since becoming president.
It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day.
But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark—an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election.
Some of these "faulty claims" (we're quoting the Post again) have been genuine dillies. This well-known fact becomes even more clear as today's report proceeds.
Indeed, Trump has made so many false and misleading claims that Kessler can no longer handle the fact-checking all by himself. Trump has issued so many howlers that it now takes a trio of Post reporters to tote his groaners up!
As far as we know, Trump is the most disordered person who has ever served in the Oval Office. Since early 2016, we've been saying that his disordered statements and weird behavior raise obvious questions of possible mental illness.
That said, leadership cadres within the mainstream press decreed that this obvious possibility mustn't be discussed. We're inclined to list that judgment under an award-wining rubric:
(According to the so-called "Goldwater rule," journalists have long agreed that they shouldn't introduce discussions of psychiatry or mental illness into the political discourse. This is a truly outstanding rule—until such time as a sitting president seems to be some version of mentally ill!)
In our view, the current sitting president seems severely disordered. Then again, we have the various leadership groups which shape the public discussion about this dangerous fact.
Let's forget about Donald J. Trump for one minute! How well do those leadership cadres function? Consider what happened in the first segment of today's Morning Joe.
As was required by Hard Cable Law, Joe and Mika, with Willie's assistance, began their day with reference to the Washington Post's new report. One minute into this guaranteed foolishness, Joe and Willie Geist-Haskell Junior engaged in a mandated sleight of hand.
To enjoy the fun, click here. Here's how the sleight-of-hand started:
JOE (4/30/19): While we were sleeping, Willie, President Trump has now made more than 10,000 lies—more than 10,000 false or misleading claims. The only question is, Willie, what does he become now? Impeached, or autocrat-for-life?As seen in Haskell Junior's statement, the gang has been fawning over Candidate Biden in the past few days, much as they once fawned over Governor Christie, then over Candidate Trump.
HASKELL-GEIST: Well, 10,000 lies, according to the Washington Post, which has been keeping track since the beginning of his presidency, it's a pretty astounding number, one hard to wrap your head around.
I don't know what that grants him, other than the presidency, I guess, right? Ten thousand lies got him into the White House, and perhaps they'll keep him there. But perhaps not, given what we've seen from Joe Biden in the polls the last couple of days.
By way of background, Morning Joe is one of the many "cable news" shows where Everyone Says The Exact Same Thing The Host or Hosts Just Said. This morning, everyone was saying that the Washington Post had reported that President Trump has now emitted ten thousand "lies."
Instantly, John Heilemann joined the prepackaged fun. "You'd sort of think that maybe, after 10,000 lies, he'd get really good at it?" the journalist-turned-open mike comic now said. "Like maybe that would be the thing, he'd be the best liar of all time?"
At this point, the children all agreed that Trump is a terrible liar. Whatever you want to call his misstatements, that may or may not be the case, depending on one's assessment of what Trump's objectives are.
At any rate, we were struck by this rollicking crew's instant reinvention of what the Washington Post had said. In fact, the terms "lie" and "liar" never appear in this morning's report in the Post.
The Post says it has counted Trump's "false and misleading claims," then leaves the language right there. And as everyone has known for thousands of years, most false statements aren't actually "lies." Meanwhile, the bulk of misleading statements don't even rise to the level of being "false!"
So the people of the earth have known for thousands of years! Our human languages have developed to observe these basic distinctions, which were part of our human inheritance until Mika and Joe came along.
Joe and Junior moved quickly today to "improve" what the Post had said. That said, does it actually matter that our leadership cadres routinely behave in such ways? Does it matter when corporate millionaires cast off the distinctions and points of nuance which have been created and observed down through the ages?
It only matters if accuracy matters. It only matters if human life matters. It only matters if intelligence matters. It only matters if you'd prefer to live within a culture where "rational" conduct prevails.
Are Donald J. Trump's false statements "lies?" Putting that a different way, how many of his endless misstatements might this disordered man believe?
Is it possible that the commander in chief is so disordered that he believes the bulk of his twaddle? We don't have to worry our pretty heads about that when we watch the silly, semi-Trumpian morning program known as Morning Joe, where the story line is kept so simple that even we liberals can grasp it.
All across this morning's major mainstream newspapers, we saw other manifestations of this wide-ranging intellectual disorder. Donald J. Trump is the worst of all time, but our corporate leadership cadres aren't necessarily all that far behind.
Indeed, many of the individuals in those cadres were rather clear versions of "Trump-before-Trump" not that long ago. Most liberals have never heard anyone say that because such discussions aren't allowed, and Everyone On Morning Joe Is Fully Aware of That Fact.
Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), a disconsolate group of future scholars, has already endorsed our reports of the next few weeks. Those reports will examine the mental traits and public behaviors of our various leadership cadres, not those of Trump himself.
These reports may eventually lead to Professor Horwich's discussion of the shunning of the later Wittgenstein's work. That later work explored the way rational conduct has long tended to break down even on the western world's highest academic platforms.
Down here on the darkling plain, many of us liberals want to hear about the anthropology of Donald J. Trump, and of course of The Others as well. Given our basic human traits, we're inclined to leave our anthropological explorations right there.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we'll look instead at the anthropology of our own tribe's struggling thought leaders. Our reports will run under a series of award-winning rubrics, starting with "Leadership Down."
For today, let's tip our hat to the Washington Post! Inevitably, its census of "false and misleading claims" is a bit subjective. But the Post has insisted on discussing those many "faulty claims" by Trump without pretending to chronicle which of the groaners are "lies."
At Morning Joe, predictable fun held sway. For perhaps the ten thousandth time, the carefully selected panel agreed to let The More Stupid prevail.
Everybody Said The Same Thing as they dumbed the Post's report down. It's the way they previously played it, first in pimping the straight-shooting Christie, and after that in dumbly pimping their old pal Herr Trump himself.
This is the way these cadres play. Through a series of nocturnal submissions the hater like to refer to as "dreams," we've been instructed to talk about this as a form of Leadership Down.
Tomorrow: Comic relief! Recent adventures of cable TV's second most popular star!