It’s not something commonly seen on curricula vitae, but Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ chief qualification for the career move she now pursues is having been spokesperson for serial fabricator.
Curious claim, yes. Reportedly, however, it is more than sufficient to be governor of Arkansas.
Depending on the zip code, apparently, a good falsehood still sells.
That doesn’t mean the press has to sell out on these matters. It should call a lie what it is.
Calling a lie by its real name apparently was a problem back in 2017. I recall early that year a panel discussion among journalists, the subject of which now seems spectacularly quaint:
How to report Trump’s dismemberment of the truth? Should reporters call it lying or something else? Should Kellyanne Conway’s newly christened “alternate facts” suffice?
The general sentiment of the panel, wanting to be above the fray and charitable to the new leader of the free world, seemed to be in sync with the editor of the Wall Street Journal. He said reporters should find words other than “lies” though they knew that’s exactly what was coming out of Trump’s mouth.
Let us now say a large segment of the industry is so over that.
Consider the recent exhaustive report by The New York Times on Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. In 8,488 words, the account uses “lie” 36 times.
As in: “a lie Trump had been grooming for years.”
As in this from the Washington Post: “Trump’s lie that the election was stolen has cost $519 million (and counting).”
And not just a spur-of-the-moment claim: Per the Times investigation, "stolen election" was a pretext concocted long before Trump came up with a tale he could freshen sufficiently so that his faithful would don horns and ram Capitol doors.
The thing about “Stop the steal” is that it didn’t emerge as a thought bubble on election night when Trump suddenly came to believe he’d been robbed.
He telegraphed his intentions — to refuse to acknowledge his defeat — many times before November.
When American voters spoke, resoundingly rejecting him, the Times reports, “a highly organized campaign stepped into the breach to turn his demagogic fury into a movement of its own, reminding key lawmakers at key times of the cost of denying the will of the president and his followers.”
In other words, when all those Republicans in Congress voted to contest the electoral vote, they were doing it under duress. They were poultry in a storm.
Then came the Jan. 6 rally and the “Save America March” which barged its way into a select group including 9/11 and Pearl Harbor forever to be classified among the darkest moments in American history.
Wrote the Times reporters, “For Trump, the rally was to be the percussion line in the symphony of subversion he was composing from the Oval Office” when he was browbeating officials in swing states to negate the verdict of their citizens.
A symphony of subversion. A concerto of conceit. Deafening deceit. Signing off with one tremendous, stupendous, very big lie.
People died because of this lie, but that’s nothing new. The "new" is a president who lied gratuitously, the sycophants around him who enabled his behavior, and the cult that followed unquestioningly.
People died in this pandemic and will die in the months to come because he hid the truth and wouldn’t face up to the reality of it all, including basic prevention.
Google “Trump lied, people died” and you’ll get 112,000,000 hits. That’s called having the wrong kind of previous occupation on your resume.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.