Truthiness Has Become Callous Make Believe

What’s remarkable is how much fictionalization plays a role in almost every national debate …we live in the age of truthiness … ready and eager to be duped by the next tall tale. It’s as if the country is living in a permanent state of suspension of disbelief.

Frank Rich, The New York Times

These words appeared in January of 2006, a full fourteen years ago.The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert’s Bill O’Reilly send-up, had premiered the word ¨truthiness “ the previous fall, defining it as when someone purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence.

James Frey’s purported prison memoir A Million Little Pieces had been revealed to be a fabrication. The Enron case had shown corporate leadership to be liars. The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart send up of the news had more viewers than cable news. Fox News was emerging as the mouthpiece of anti-intellectual populism. And bloggers were just emerging as opinion shapers.

You wouldn’t think that Web Log commentary by anonymous volunteers with no particular credentials would get much attention. But, apparently, especially around Washington DC, many of these bloggers have a growing influence on the body politic.

Robert C. Amerson, my father, in a talk on Truthiness in 2005

What would my father have thought about Twitter becoming the accepted communication delivery system?

We have arrived at a place in which Fox News and the more recent One America News Network — which makes Fox look like the model of journalistic integrity —peddle invented facts.

Take a recent example. Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old Catholic peace activist, was pushed by policeman in full riot gear during protests in Buffalo and ended up in the hospital with a serious head injury. In One America News Network’s version, Gugino was an Antifa provocateur with the fall a part of a set up.

And now we have in the White House a man who has built his entire persona on manic instinct unimpaired by one atom of intellectual examination. In a word, Trump is all about truthiness. And his thumbs have become the medium for the unsubstantiated narrative, like his Tweet about Gugino being an Antifa activist who staged his own injury.

If he really believed the One America report, the president is a credulous simpleton if he knew the report was a smear and spread it anyway, the president is a cynical weasel… I operate on the assumption that Trump is both. To him truth and falsehood are measured only in relation to his personal needs

Michael Gerson, The Washington Post

Reality matters. Facts matter. And when the White House does information origami with data about the rising number of coronavirus cases — to suit Trump’s re election needs —the consequences are deadly. Here in Florida and in many other states, citizens are being fed to the beast as they doff their masks and huddle in to be just like Trump.

They forget that he is protected by his minions.

Meanwhile, Florida is breaking records daily in the number of cases. Like Trump, Governor DeSantis is shirking his leadership responsibility by delegating policy authority to local government. It is only this week — four months into the pandemic and a month after opening up the economy — that my county has finally mandated masks. Too little, too late.

Never mind the facts. Since South Carolina could not guarantee him a convention center full of red-hatted sycophants, Trump has awarded the campaign trophy — the site of his acceptance speech as the Republican candidate for President — to Florida. August in Jacksonville, just where you want to be when the coronavirus is galloping full speed and hurricane season has heated up.

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Stephen Colbert, The Late Show

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