The Right is freaking out over Trump’s lies


 

The Wall Street Journal is scared out of their minds about Trump’s impending collapse, and Daniel Henninger’s latest foolishness proves it.

In politics, when your side has done something horrifyingly stupid, the usual tactic is to shift the blame onto someone or something else. You don’t have to be particularly adept at this: even if your lie is utterly transparent, it at least changes the conversation, and may put your political opponents off balance.

All politicians do this, but Trump is the undisputed master. Nearly every lie he’s ever told—more than 2,000 by last January, according to the Washington Post, “about small things and large,” in Jim Comey’s words—was designed as a smokescreen to shift the public’s attention away from his administration’s, and his own, misdeeds. Fox “News” does this a lot: whenever there’s a particularly devastating development in any of the various Trump scandals (porn stars, RussiaGate), Rupert Murdoch’s Republican propaganda machine can be counted on to ignore it in favor of peddling some wacky Hillary conspiracy theory that will get the Breitbart yahoos all in a tizzy.

Trump’s sycophants follow the same course, the latest being the Wall Street Journal’s hysterical columnist, Daniel Henninger. He can always be counted on to stretch the truth to its breaking point, as he did yesterday in his opinion piece, The Zuckerberg Collusion.

Henninger’s conflates many Republican lies into a single hatchet job on—who else?—Obama! His topic is ostensibly about Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress about Facebook’s misuse. But, of course, there was nothing helpful to the Trump cause in Zuckerberg’s testimony, which was essentially non-political, and that presents Henninger with a problem: he has to write about it because it’s big news, and he wants to write about it because the country is fixated on it; but he can’t address the real story—Russian collusion on behalf of Trump—because his job is to defend Trump, not do real journalism. So he has to make something up.

So what does Henninger do? Turn Zuckerberg’s testimony, and indeed the entire Facebook scandal, into an attack on Obama. How’s that again? Here’s Henninger’s B.S. spin: Why didn’t the Obama administration alert the American people in 2015 or earlier to the threat of Russian political subversion? Protecting us from Russian bots wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s responsibility.”

You can easily see the problem. It’s always possible, after the fact, to ask why someone didn’t do something sooner. This is a very easy line of attack: no one can defend not doing something to stop a potentially harmful attack. Someone could have done something sooner about Sept. 11, or about the California Wine Country fires, or any of a million other stories. Such questions can be turned usefully into formulating future strategies, but for Henninger to pretend that Barack Obama is somehow responsible for Facebook’s fake posts is scurrilous. One might just as easily blame Trump for the Parkland shootings: Why didn’t the president alert the American people to the threat from assault weapons? I doubt if Henninger would like that very much, and if in fact a liberal columnist wrote it, Henninger’s would damn the liberal to the depths of Hell.

It’s also weird that Henninger claims “Protecting us from Russian bots wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s responsibility.” Really? Then whose job was it? As Zuckerberg pointed out in his testimony, he runs Facebook. It is his responsibility to manage it in a transparent way, and to let us, the American people, know when and if Facebook was harming us. That’s what product liability laws are for—and Mark Zuckerberg is probably going to be facing his share of them by users whose data was given to Cambridge Analytica.

But of course Henninger doesn’t give a damn about protecting Facebook users’ personal data, or about the fake news that got his candidate elected. What he cares about (besides keeping his job) is diverting attention away from Trump’s mounting problems, and the fastest way to do that is by slurring Obama, or Hillary, or Pocahontas, or Oprah, or Daniel Hogg, or some other convenient rightwing bête noir. It’s what all those rightwing smear-meisters do: it’s all they can do, because the horse they’re backing, Donald Trump, is failing, and they just can’t, or won’t, bring themselves to admit it.

Have a lovely weekend!



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