Posted Sunday morning, May 27, 2018.
This post is really about Winston Churchill…
The political press corps is wary of calling Trump a liar because it’s hard to know when he’s consciously lying, repeating bullshit he’s heard on Fox and Friends or been fed by friends, family, and scheming advisors he believes is true, when he’s just spouting off, saying stuff or the sake of saying stuff without checking or caring if it’s true, and when he’s simply demonstrating his monumental ignorance and stupidity.
Journalistic conventions and professional concerns about reporting facts not opinions and a realistic fear of lawsuits mean that reported pieces are not going to be as forthright and bold as op-eds and editorial pages which is why there are op-eds and editorials.
Op-ed writers have no compunctions about calling him what he is. But beat reporters have to be more careful. They can’t out and out call him a liar for the same reason they can’t out and out call him a racist and a criminal, although he’s demonstrably both. It would require them to read his thoughts. By the most technical definition only the conscious lies are lies, but since they can’t read his thoughts---or determine if he actually has any---and, so far, he’s not been caught on record saying, “That was a deliberate and conscious lie, and I’m proud of getting away with it!”, reporters have to throw up their hands and resort to timid company lawyer-approved journalese and sometimes seem to go out of their way to avoid calling his lies lies or find the most roundabout way to say he’s lying without actually saying it.
But it’s his job to know the truth, or at least have the facts at his command, and he has the means to know it and command the facts. That he doesn’t bother to find out either when he could easily call upon advice from experts who could quickly produce them and is fine, even happier, relying on Fox, gossip, hearsay, what “everybody knows” and what “nobody knew” until he himself found it out, and whatever pops into his head, shows that he doesn’t care about the truth. He doesn’t care if he’s misrepresenting, misstating, repeating falsehoods, pulling stuff out of the air, bullshitting, exaggerating, taking himself figuratively or literally, or flat-out lying. He has complete contempt for the truth. And his utter disregard for the truth when it's his job to know what it is so he can govern intelligently, responsibly, and effectively, besides making him a dangerously incompetent world leader, makes him a liar even if some things he says aren’t technically lies.
In short, he’s lying even when he isn’t “lying.”
Now about Churchill...