Why do people believe the "big lie?"


Marc Thiessen's explanation: Marc Thiessen is a conservative columnist for the Washington Post.

To his credit, he doesn't seem to believe that Donald J. Trump won the last election. He says this in his latest column, though not in so many words.

That said, millions of people do believe that Donald J. Trump won the last election. Online, Thiessen's new column for the Post appears beneath a headline which offers his explanation:

Why do people believe the ‘big lie’? Because Americans don’t trust the media.

People who believe the "big lie" no longer trust the mainstream press. That's why they wouldn't listen to reason about the last election—on January 6, 2021, for example. Or so goes this explanation.

It's true that millions of Trump supporters don't trust the mainstream media. It's even true, as Thiessen claims, that the mainstream press has arguably, on occasion, given them reason for holding that view.

That said, the main reason why these people believe that Donald Trump won is because Donald J. Trump keeps telling them that. 

(Is it possible that Donald J. Trump actually believes this claim? We expect to re-examine that question before the week is through.)

Thiessen's explanation strikes us as highly selective, but he's asking the most important question of the modern political age. Why do so many people believe this wholly unsupported, apparent falsehood? Why do so many people believe other unfounded or inaccurate claims?

Why do millions of people believe that Trump won? As our nation splits in two and slides toward the sea, it seems to us that very few questions are more important.

To some extent, Thiessen's thesis is true. People believe that Donald Trump won because they don't believe a single thing they hear from the mainstream press corps. Early this morning, we thought we may have seen a slight hint of one reason why that's true.

On Way Too Early and Morning Joe, the usual suspects were discussing The Only Subject They Care About—Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump and How To Get Trump in Prison.

We briefly flipped to the Fox News Channel. They were discussing inflation and the pain the current inflation is causing regular people.

Our blue tribe's cable news crowd is a heavily cosseted, wealthy elite. As a general matter, if your spouse has never run the World Bank, it's hard to get on Morning Joe.

Our blue cable crowd hails from the high end. They care about what they care about and they occasionally seem to care about no one and nothing else. 

Some of the Others may have noticed this fact. We'll guess that this fact, which is unattractive, may not especially help.

To his credit, Thiessen was asking a large, existential question. In our view, his analysis may have come up a bit short.  


  1. "Why do people believe the ‘big lie’? Because Americans don’t trust the media."

    Meh. People believe the ‘big lie’ because they were alive in 2016-2020, and saw what was happening. With their own eyes. And because they aren't idiots, like your fellow tribesmen, dear Bob.

    Yes, they saw it, dear Bob, in real time: the letter signed by 51 former "intelligence" officials. The banning signature verification on the ballots. The censorship. The clown-show of impeachments. And on, and on, and on.

    As the Time magazine puts it: "a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information."

    ...and they don’t trust the media because it has the audacity to call it "the big lie". That's all.

    1. Everyone’s favorite Uber douche Mao does illustrate why there is not much to Bob’s post or the discussed Column. It’s not just a problem of the right, the big lie is simply the culmination of a culture too soft and childish to listen to bad news, or confront the results of being willfully misled. Bob has often screwed up and gotten stuff wrong on his blog. When this happens he just stops talking about the story, he never comes forward with a correction.

    2. The Big Lie is of an election that was fraudulent or stolen. None of the items enumerated by Monsieur Mao qualify as either.

    3. Mai, you've concocted a rationale for what you want to believe, the 51 intelligence officials, the passage from some Time magazine article, the "clownish" impeachment hearings - but Mao, you come at this from the perspective of an obsessed wing nut. You are a shameless apologist advancing a wild conspiracy theory. Can you name one person who helped carry out this "stolen" election, with something that resembles actual objective truth?

  2. “Hang the Rich!” Is a poor substitute for media criticism, especially when offered up as such a lazy generalization.
    The Big Lie was backed up by Fox’s news coverage and ghastly personalities from the get go, even though Trump had lied about the election results in 2016. He also lies about countless other things as well.

  3. Was Ellie Alvarado on Fox News? I thought maybe she was, since Somerby is so hyped about Trump's ability to motivate people whose wives don't work for the World Bank.

    Is there anything stupider than today's column?

    1. Democrats are not the party of wealth and elitism. That would be Republicans, although they are trying to portray themselves differently. But who is it that gave the top 1% that huge tax cut that didn't help the poor at all?
    2. It is very hard to get on those Fox News shows too, if you aren't youngish and blonde with long legs, or a raving lunatic like Tucker. But Somerby has never liked to listen to experts on any subject, so he obviously has no use for the folks who do appear on MSNBC these days.
    3. People were supporting Trump before he started telling his election lies. They did it because he appealed to their racist, sexist, nativist, homophobic instincts -- and someone was finally telling them it was OK to be that way. Pretty irresistible, but is it really OK to be a racist jerk? Wasn't that just another form of lie?
    4. Human beings existed on this planet and even prospered before there was any media at all. Why would the failure of a media that most people don't pay any attention to, cause us to "slide into the sea" or any other horrible thing? People get news from social media now.

    "Our blue cable crowd hails from the high end. They care about what they care about and they occasionally seem to care about no one and nothing else."

    Earth to Somerby -- everyone cares about what they care about, whatever that is. This is a tautology, and a particularly stupid one, at that.

    What do Democrats care about: poverty, economic prosperity, equality and social justice (including reducing income inequality), voting rights, jobs, educational opportunity, global warming and the environment, women's rights and health issues, civil rights (especially for minorities), helping others (such as homeless, poor, world hunger), dealing effectively with pandemics like covid, maintaining our security in a changing world, protecting natural resources, funding science research and space exploration, being good world citizens.

    Nothing in the Democratic Platform in 2020 or in past elections has been about protecting the wealth, social privilege and status of elites. This is the latest Republican campaign, involving projection of conservative values onto Democratic candidates. And if people will believe the big lie about Trump's election, they will believe that dogs have become cats and that Republicans are now the ones looking out for the working people, when nothing in their proposals or legislation has done that in any way.

    Republicans are and have always been the party of the Fat Cats. Nothing says billionaire like Trump's gold toilet fixtures and his calling the White House a dump, while he steals the paintings on his way out the door. But Somerby is working hard to put this new meme across. I hope his bosses are paying him enough, because he is truly selling his soul these days.

    Cue the new set of trolls to reinforce Somerby's message by attacking anyone here who objects to the crud Somerby is forcing on us and calling "apple pie" instead of shit sandwich.

  4. "To his credit, Thiessen was asking a large, existential question. In our view, his analysis may have come up a bit short."

    This is the way Somerby pretends to be critical of Thiessen, who is a conservative, while simultaneously spreading Thiessen's message about Democrats being the new snooty rich snobs and the media being untrustworthy (something Republicans have been saying since forever, long before Trump was seduced into running for office by his Russian handlers).

  5. It is the media who have been telling us about the increasing flood of information about what happened on 1/6 and who planned the coup. They are the ones who are telling us the truth about Trump's misdeeds and the people who have conspired with him. Fox won't tell us. Somerby seems to be complaining because the media don't know the whole story, all at once, but with people actively covering up what they did, hiding the truth of their actions, we are only going to get bits and pieces until the investigations are done and the wrongdoers go to jail. But it is much better for our country to have the activities of the left media, than to have the coverup of Fox News and the president's boosters.

    It is hard to believe that Somerby has the nerve to castigate the media when they are our primary source of truth these days. The right won't tell us shit, because they have a vested interest in covering up what happened.

  6. "We briefly flipped to the Fox News Channel. They were discussing inflation and the pain the current inflation is causing regular people."

    It is very odd that Somerby is such good friends with Kevin Drum, who has been showing us that both inflation and recession are overblown by the right, not increasing in any way beyond usual, and consistent with global increases, not Biden's fault, and likely temporary and not related to any recession. Drum shows the charts and we know that Somerby reads them.

    Now all of a sudden, Somerby has a bug up his ass about Ellie Alvarado and her inability to buy fancy breakfast cereal, as if that were some measure of what is happening with the entire population. We have all encountered shortages due to supply chain disruption related to covid. We have all received checks to help ease those problems. Now that we are recovering, some items cost more money, but far fewer people are unemployed, there are new unions, wages have increased and benefits are better, and kids are going back to school. This isn't the time to cry woe and pretend Biden is bankrupting families. That is another kind of big lie, one that discourages people who are doing fine, and one that undermines our prosperity by decreasing consumer confidence. Somerby should be ashamed of helping Republicans do this, just to win a midterm election.

  7. "Hang the Rich!" is a poor summary of what was just written. Yes, this will need to be explained, am I right?

    Criticizing the blue elite we see on TV as rich, pampered, and not caring about much is not equivalent to simply criticizing the rich, especially when it's the last part that is clearly the important distinction. Gosh I get tired of explaining this stuff. And then you go on to write it's a lazy generalization. Why do I even come here.

  8. I'm ready to give up, write your garbage and project onto Somerby... I need a break.

  9. "They [Fox] were discussing inflation and the pain the current inflation is causing regular people."

    I'll bet they didn't mention that the US has lower inflation than many European nations with comparable gdps. I'll bet they didn't mention that inflation is trending down now. I'll bet they didn't mention that inflation was caused by covid and the war in Ukraine and not Biden's policies. And I'm sure they didn't mention the mitigating factors, such as low unemployment, higher wages etc. I'll bet they told their viewers that it was nasty old Biden who was causing their financial troubles. Because there are things that Fox viewers won't be told, important things that they need to know. Thank god the leftist media exist to balance out the lies (of omission and disinformation) told on Fox.

  10. A middle class person who cannot vacation in Bermuda this Christmas is feeling as much pain as a working class person who cannot replace the tires on his truck. It is all relative. The only folks who don't worry about money are those at the top of the pyramid, the truly wealthy. That's why telling people they shouldn't feel any financial strain is another big lie. When people get an extra $10,000 in their paycheck, they increase their standard of living, and still just barely live within their means, and thus feel economic insecurity and "pain" again.

    If our culture wants to remove economic anxiety, it needs to enact healthcare for all, a guaranteed minimum income (to remove food insecurity), provide jobs for all who can work (we are nearly there), and provide shelter for those without homes (as they now do in Utah, for example). After that, whatever struggles people encounter will be related to their interests and abilities but won't be "pain" in the sense of need or want. But there is no will to do any of that on right. Conservatives believe in social Darwinism, in which the strong survive and the weak are their prey. So it is up to the left to do the heavy lifting on such measures, without any help from Trump or anyone else on the right. Until right wingers do participate in helping those in need, they really cannot complain about elitism on the left.

    1. The main elitism that conservatives dislike on the left is the meritocracy of intelligence. Those on the left value education more highly and they pursue it more actively, so they wind up smarter, with better jobs, and more knowledge, a better understanding of how the world works, which results in success and positions of influence in government and industry.

      Republicans say they believe in a meritocracy, but they still want to rig things in their favor as much as possible, because they know that you can't fix stupid and stupid is what they have the most of. Imagine people who would vote for Lauren Boebert! How stupid can they be!

    2. Attending college is no longer education. It's indoctrination by the mentally deranged who fear the wrath of the even more mentally deranged woke students who threaten to have them fired for woke apostasy. The left is eliminating objective standards that truly determine merit, such as the LSAT, GRE, and SAT because too many on the left do not have the aptitude to attain sufficient scores. Affirmative Action was one way around this problem, but more cheating is needed because the left is getting even dumber.

      You must be ancient. Most positions in government, media, and academia immediately signal "too dumb for positions requiring intelligence or knowledge" or "insane."

  11. The people you see on TV are there because they care about informing the public about the world we all live in. They went to college to learn to do that job well. Somerby wants to paint a college degree as some sort of status symbol but it represents hard work to prepare themselves for their jobs. Most journalists do not earn high salaries. The ones who do are like the superstar musicians or athletes and they have worked their way up to such positions. When Somerby pretends they have unearned status, he is not only being envious, but he is ignoring their expertise -- as he does with Einstein, Godel, and anyone else who knows things he doesn't. This is a campaign he has been on for a while now, trying to undermine Maddow and others as reliable sources of information.

    So, Somerby has not offered any real or valid criticism of the mainstream media, beyond "hang those from elite college" and "Maddow stuffs loot in her pants" and his trivial criticisms have not shown these cable news workers to be unskilled or unequal to their positions.

    @4:37, you aren't needed here. You don't seem to know much about Somerby and when you reduce the complaint about Somerby to "hang the rich," that is an unfair simplification. Somerby doesn't care about the rich or the poor, except as a stick to beat the media with. He never said there were too few episodes on TV about Ellie Alvarado, until the media starting calling for Trump's head on a stick. If you think this is about the rich for anyone, you are not paying attention, and that means you are wasting people's time and perhaps should read more and type less until you get the picture here.

  12. Hang the globalists, more like.

    Global finance, that makes money by offshoring and importing, chasing the lowest labor costs all over the globe, facilitating and exploiting mass-migrations, playing currencies by creating crises, and so on.

    In other words, Soros&Co.

  13. At 4:37, you are an idiot but I will explain it to you. Bob’s version of “hang the rich” is part of a lazy generalization, as I said. He wants to hang the blue rich, not, say , Fox’s “The Five” were not overpaid rich elites. Fox’s preening idiots are the best paid in the business, few suggest their crappola should ever be tested in any debate format. The stupider you are the easier it is buy a bill of goods about “globalists”, those darker skinned people from other countries. Yeah, it must be tough to repeat that bullshit over and over and have to listen to it yourself. Broad strokes, the fools who couldn’t accept the truth about the Vietnam War and Watergate eventually got tired of
    losing arguments and, when it was presented to them, started listening to
    what they wanted to hear 24/7. The
    Belief in Trump’s nonsense was pure
    vanity and childish ego. But they were always conditioned for it.

  14. “Why do people believe the ‘big lie’? Because Americans don’t trust the media.”

    That strikes me as a cop out. Thiessen is a member of the party that used to call itself the “party of personal responsibility.”

    Republican Raffensperger in Georgia made Trump’s strong-arming of him public in 2020, prior to Jan 6. Raffensperger certified the election results there.

    Republican Rusty Bowers, Arizona House Speaker, testified to the Jan 6 committee about being pressured to decertify the election results there, but he refused. He knew the results were correct in AZ.

    These are the facts, attested to by conservative Republicans, echoed by Liz Cheney and a handful of others.

    You’d think that right wing media and politicians would want their followers to know these truths, rather than feeding them lies and misinformation, but they would rather exploit the gullibility of their marks.

    You can believe all you want that group x is untrustworthy or doesn’t care about your problems, but it doesn’t follow that you believe patently false things because of this.

  15. “We briefly flipped to the Fox News Channel. They were discussing inflation and the pain the current inflation is causing regular people.”

    How was it being discussed?

    I think I know the answer, but was Somerby’s brief stay long enough to get a sense of the accuracy and the honesty of the discussion?

    1. There is no lack of coverage on inflation on MSNBC, as Bob well knows. He attempts to play his readers for suckers here…

  16. “Why do people believe the ‘big lie’? Because Americans don’t trust the media.”

    Oddly, non-Republican Americans don’t believe the “big lie.” And they certainly don’t trust Fox News.

    So what exactly is Thiessen saying?

  17. “They were discussing inflation and the pain the current inflation is causing regular people.”

    So was “Blue Tribe” the New York Times, when they ran that story about Ellie Alvarado.

  18. How many regular Fox News viewers ever watch anything but Fox News? How would they get a view of MSNBC or the New York Times that hasn’t been filtered through the lens of Fox News commentators?

  19. Hello and a greeting to every body.

    I have it here a warning posting.

    Do not you eat of it the Punjab Cricket. If eat of it the Punjab Cricket then you will have it the bad smell gas.

    At one time Lady Friend Smupa eat of it the Punjab Cricket. She then have it a bad smell gas from the bottom for 3.5 days.

    For this time she not want a good time with me.

    Not good my friend.

    Thank you.


  20. The real movement for media criticism started on the left, with people threatening to attack Noam Chomsky as he talked about Vietnam, imperialism, elite persuasion control etc.

    The media called him insane and they do this to everyone who follows his example.

    Recently, this style of analysis was hijacked by the conservatives and they do a parody of it.

    People who call themselves conservative, when you ask them do you like tech billionaires and Monsanto they'll tell you they can't trust those far left radicals.

    Bob makes a good point that we have a broken discourse. It's not an accident. It's controlled opposition.

    1. Sadly, though it once appeared otherwise, Bob is part of that broken discourse.

    2. You can check the comment section on this blog too
      . People tend to assume Bob is a Republican because he doesn't follow the party and media dogma. That's what I just said.

  21. “Why do people believe the ‘big lie’? Because people don’t trust the media.”