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  • Former Bush Aide: Trump’s Campaign Is Fueled By “Conspiratorial Nonsense”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Michael Gerson, syndicated columnist and former aide to President George W. Bush, explained in The Washington Post that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy is “fueled by conspiracy.”

    Trump has peddled numerous conspiracy theories, including leading the charge in questioning the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate, and claiming vaccines cause autism, that the government lied about the dangers of Ebola, that Muslims cheered on 9/11, and that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have been murdered, among others. Trump regularly surrounds himself with and lauds known conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones, an infamous 9/11 truther, and Roger Stone, a notorious dirty trickster who alleges the Clintons are murderers.

    In a May 23 opinion piece for the Post, Gerson wrote Trump “is not flirting with the fringes” by pushing “conspiratorial nonsense,” but “is French-kissing them.” Gerson explained that “Trump emerged in conservative circles by questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship, and thus the legality of his presidency,” and has since peddled numerous conspiracy theories and has “succeeded by appealing to stereotypes and ugly hatreds.” Gerson warned “every Republican official endorsing Trump” that the conspiratorial “company he keeps … is the company you now keep.” From the May 23 Washington Post opinion piece:

    But it was Donald Trump who led the opposition. He tweeted: “The U.S. must immediately stop all flights from EBOLA infected countries or the plague will start and spread inside our ‘borders.’ Act fast!” And: “Ebola is much easier to transmit than the CDC and government representatives are admitting.”

    Health officials were not lying. Travel to and from West Africa was essential for medical personnel and aid workers to defeat the disease at its point of origin. Trump’s ban would have made Ebola materially more likely to spread beyond control.

    What kind of politics is ascendant in the United States? A distrust of institutions that borders on conspiratorial. Here is Trump again: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes — AUTISM.” And: “I am being proven right about massive vaccinations — the doctors lied.” And: “So many people who have children with autism have thanked me — amazing response. They know far better than fudged up reports!”

    Lying doctors. Fudged reports. It would all be disturbing — if it were not conspiratorial nonsense. No connection has ever been demonstrated between vaccinations and autism. And this particular nonsense is potentially deadly. Trump is undermining a consensus for vaccination that builds up “herd immunity” and saves the lives of children.

    [...]

    Does Trump really believe that liberals may have ordered a hit on a Supreme Court justice? Who knows? We do know he finds such ideas useful. Trump emerged in conservative circles by questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship, and thus the legality of his presidency. This required the existence of a conspiracy to hide the circumstances of Obama’s birth. “They cannot believe what they’re finding,” he said of “people that have been studying it.” Having actually discovered nothing, Trump doubled down on a deception.

    As a leader, Trump has succeeded by appealing to stereotypes and ugly hatreds that most American leaders have struggled to repress and contain. His political universe consists of deceptive experts, of scheming, of criminal Mexicans, of lying politicians and bureaucrats and of disloyal Muslims. Asked to repudiate David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, Trump hesitated, later claiming a “bad earpiece.” Asked to repudiate the vicious anti-Semitism of some of his followers, Trump responded, “I don’t have a message to the fans.” Wouldn’t want to offend “the fans.”

    This is not flirting with the fringes; it is French-kissing them. Every Republican official endorsing Trump should know: This is the company he keeps. This is the company you now keep.

  • Trump Called NYT Story About His Treatment Of Women “Libelous” But Hasn't Officially Requested A Retraction

    Erik Wemple: This Is “More Corroboration That The Trump Campaign Is Running A Media-Obsessed, Substance-Averse Campaign”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Donald Trump’s campaign has not asked The New York Times for a correction following its feature on Trump’s behavior with women, according to The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple.

    Trump’s campaign highly criticized a New York Timesfeature, “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private,” which highlighted multiple women who revealed “unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct” from the Republican presidential frontrunner. Trump responded to the story, tweeting that the Times “lied” and wrote a “malicious & libelous story” on him. Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “They need to do a retraction and they need to actually be fair, because they’re destroying their paper.”

    The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wrote on May 20 that campaigns “that seek a retraction from a news organization generally lay out their case in writing,” noting that “no such letter has issued from the Trump camp.” Wemple continued that the campaign’s public response and lack of an official request to the Times was “more corroboration that the Trump campaign is running a media-obsessed, substance-averse campaign”:

    Campaigns, celebrities, companies and institutions that seek a retraction from a news organization generally lay out their case in writing. Anyone in media is familiar with this species of communication — stern, scolding and sometimes nasty in tone, the letters explain the alleged lapses in reporting, the impact of the alleged lapses in reporting, and the request: A full retraction of the story’s central thesis. Or something along those lines.

    No such letter has issued from the Trump camp, according to the New York Times. “Since the story was published, we have not received any direct communication from the Trump people*. They did not seek a correction or initiate any other action,” writes New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha in an email to the Erik Wemple Blog.

    More corroboration that the Trump campaign is running a media-obsessed, substance-averse campaign. Were the Trump people authentically interested in securing a correction or retraction from the New York Times, they would have sent a letter and sought a meeting. Such an effort would have been a slog, for sure: The New York Times has stood by its story and even issued a statement rebuffing Brewer Lane’s complaints. “Ms. Brewer Lane was quoted fairly, accurately and at length,” noted the statement, in part. As this blog wrote this week, the Trump case against the women story was weak. Yet campaigns that put their gripes in written form can reap significant benefits, as the Clinton campaign demonstrated last summer in blasting the New York Times for its story about Hillary Clinton’s email.

    Perhaps Trump didn’t have the time to muster a retraction request, after all. He may have been too busy calling into a CNN control room to orchestrate favorable media coverage.

    *After this story was published, the New York Times sent a clarification of the circumstances: “A lawyer in Trump’s office called [Executive Editor] Dean Baquet earlier this week. The lawyer did not seek a correction or dispute any facts or quotes in the story. The Times has received no formal requests for a correction or any other action.” The headline was amended to account for this change.

  • Media Slam Trump's "Totally Irresponsible" Response To EgyptAir Crash, While Fox Defends It

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media figures criticized Donald Trump’s response to the EgyptAir crash saying that it was “totally irresponsible” and “bad practice” for Trump to blame the crash on terrorism despite having no information at the time. Meanwhile, Fox News defended Trump’s “strong statement,” and praised him for saying “exactly what’s on everyone’s mind.”

  • Wash. Post Columnist Peddles Widely Debunked Anti-LGBT “Bathroom Predator” Myth

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Fox News contributor and Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen peddled the widely debunked myth that nondiscrimination protections for transgender people are “an open invitation to sex predators” in public restrooms.

    In a May 16 Washington Post opinion piece, Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen repeated the debunked myth that nondiscrimination protections for transgender people will cause male predators to pretend to be transgender in order to sneak into women’s bathrooms and commit sexual assault. Thiessen is a former speechwriter for George W. Bush who authored an error-ridden 2010 book defending the use of torture that The New Yorker called “better at conveying fear than at relaying the facts.”

    Thiessen’s fearmongering contradicts the expert testimony of over 300 national, state, and local anti-sexual-assault and domestic violence organizations. It also contradicts the experience of states, cities, and school districts across the country that have had trans-inclusive nondiscrimination policies for years without incident.

    From the May 16 column:

    Allowing biological men to use women’s restrooms and changing rooms — what could possibly go wrong?

    Plenty.

    As a compassionate society, we believe that transgendered people should be protected from discrimination. We also believe that women and children should be protected from sexual exploitation and assault. Creating a new “right” for biological men to use women-only facilities is an open invitation to sex predators pretending to be transgender in order to get access to vitcims (sic) at their most vulnerable.

    […]

    By all means, schools should be required to provide access to bathrooms and changing areas where transgender people can feel safe. And there is a simple solution. As one transgender young man put it in The Post this weekend, “Imagine a room with a toilet, a sink and a door with a lock. Suddenly everyone’s problems go away.” But that is not good enough for the Obama administration, which insists that biological males who identify as women have a fundamental right to access to women’s facilities. That is a recipe for disaster.

    Sex predators are devious; they will use any excuse to gain access to their victims. Government should not be opening the bathroom door for them. Yes, we should find ways to protect transgender people — but we must do so without endangering everyone else.

  • Editorial Boards Call On Trump To Release His Tax Returns

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Editorial boards are criticizing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, noting that “it has been common practice since the 1970s for the presidential nominees of both parties to release their tax returns,” explaining that Trump “should be willing to demonstrate that he has lived up to his tax obligations,” and arguing that the decision shows “a paternalistic and insulting attitude toward the public.”

  • A Journalism Professor Exposes The Weakness In How The Press Interviews Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Columbia University journalism professor Todd Gitlin wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post pointing out that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump “regularly runs circles around interviewers because they pare their follow-up questions down to a minimum, or none at all” and throw him “softballs,” and explained how journalists can “hold Trump’s feet to the fire.” 

    The media have failed to rigorously cover Trump since he announced his candidacy in June. Trump has received a record-breaking amount of free media coverage, softball interviews, few probing follow-up questions, and unprecedented phone interview privileges. Veteran journalists and historians have ripped the media’s “pathetic” and “fawning” coverage of Trump and argued that Trump has made “monkeys” out of the news media.

    In his May 12 article, Gitlin wrote that Trump “cracked campaign reporters’ code” and “takes advantage of the slipshod, shallow techniques journalism has made routine.” Gitlin argued that “It’s time for journalists to honor the good name of their profession and take off the kid gloves,” writing that interviewers must “do their homework,” “follow up by asking how, specifically” Trump plans to implement his proposals, and “remind Trump, and voters, of the many times he’s claimed as fact something demonstrated to be false”:

    Early in this campaign season, Sunday morning network news hosts granted Trump the special prerogative of phoning in for interviews, off camera, making it impossible to know, in real time, if he was consulting notes or advisers during interviews. And because of an early polling lead based in large measure on his near-universal name recognition, Trump was center-stage getting most of the air time during every GOP primary debate.

    In those debates, and in interviews, Trump regularly runs circles around interviewers because they pare their follow-up questions down to a minimum, or none at all. After 30-plus years in the media spotlight, he knows how to wait out an interviewer, offering noncommittal soundbites and incoherent rejoinders until he hears the phrase, “let’s move on.” He takes advantage of the slipshod, shallow techniques journalism has made routine, particularly on TV — techniques that, in the past, were sufficient to trip up less-media-savvy candidates — but that Trump knows how to sidestep.

    [...]

    Trump is a master of darting from slogan to slogan. That’s why interviewers must do their homework and be prepared to go at least 2-3 questions deep on any issue.

    When Trump makes a blunt, sweeping statement like saying he’d “get along very well” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, journalists have to follow up by asking how, specifically, he thinks Putin would respond to increased economic sanctions. If he won’t answer, they should do what conservative Wisconsin talk radio host Charlie Sykes did back in March. Interviewers should say, flatly, “You’re not answering my question.”

    [...]

    Journalists need to remind Trump, and voters, of the many times he’s claimed as fact something demonstrated to be false — that on 9/11, for example, “thousands and thousands of people” in New Jersey Arab American communities cheered the destruction of the Twin Towers. If Trump says he can’t remember, remind him he claimed to have “the world’s greatest memory.”

    It is possible to hold Trump’s feet to the fire. You have to be resolute and persistent.

    [...]

    The general election is upon us. There won’t be any do-overs. It’s time for journalists to honor the good name of their profession and take off the kid gloves. If they don’t put down their softballs, if they don’t stop letting simple-minded questions substitute for serious exploration, they’ll share responsibility for enabling — and helping elect — President Donald J. Trump.

  • What Media Need To Know About Trump Economic Policy Advisers Steve Moore And Larry Kudlow

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Politico reported that Donald Trump is tapping conservative economic pundits Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow to assist in remaking the presumptive Republican nominee’s tax plan, which has been lambasted as a budget-busting giveaway to high-income earners and corporations. Media should be aware that both Moore and Kudlow have long histories of playing fast and loose with the facts while making outlandish and incorrect claims about the economy.

  • Wash. Post Fact Checker Slams Media For Their Reluctance To Challenge “Trump’s Repeated Misstatements” 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post reporter and fact checker Glenn Kessler slammed media for their reluctance to “challenge Trump when he makes a claim that already has been found to be false” and allowing the presumptive Republican nominee to make “Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again.”

    Trump has repeatedly hyped falsehoods and conspiracy theories, including his claim that he opposed the Iraq War from the start. Though this is demonstrably false, Trump made this claim 16 times without being fact-checked by the media. Trump also edits other parts of his own record, often with no pushback from reporters. Trump’s preference for phone interviews instead of face-to-face interviews allows him to have “an upper hand” and gives him the power to “diminish the interview.”

    In his May 7 article, Kessler writes that the media have “no excuse” for not challenging Trump on his claims. Kessler even suggested that “TV hosts should have a list of Trump’s repeated misstatements so that if he repeats them, as he often does, he can be challenged”:

    Fact checks are intended to inform voters and explain complicated issues.

    Still, most politicians will drop a talking point if it gets labeled with Four Pinocchios by The Fact Checker or “Pants on Fire” by PolitiFact. No one wants to be tagged as a liar or misinformed, and we have found most politicians are interested in getting the facts straight. So the claim might be uttered once or twice, but then it gets quietly dropped or altered.

    But the news media now faces the challenge of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Trump makes Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again, even though fact checkers have demonstrated them to be false. He appears to care little about the facts; his staff does not even bother to respond to fact-checking inquiries.

    But, astonishingly, television hosts rarely challenge Trump when he makes a claim that already has been found to be false. For instance, Trump says he was against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but research by BuzzFeed found that he did express support for an attack. He said the White House even sent a delegation to tell him to tone down his statements —and we found that also to be false.

    Yet at least a dozen television hosts in the past two months allowed Trump to make this claim and failed to challenge him. There is no excuse for this. TV hosts should have a list of Trump’s repeated misstatements so that if he repeats them, as he often does, he can be challenged on his claims.

    [...]

    The online version of the Fact Checker keeps a running list of Trump’s Four-Pinocchio statements. He now has 26, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of Trump’s statements that have been fact checked.

  • US Officials Report No Evidence Hillary Clinton Broke The Law, Will Right-Wing Media Listen?

    Conservative Media Conspiracy Theories Doused By The Facts

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    U.S. officials say they have not yet found evidence that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton willfully broke the law with use of her private email or that her server was hacked, according to two new reports, undercutting the conservative witch-hunt for a bombshell in the Democratic presidential front-runner’s email setup.

    Prosecutors and FBI officials “have so far found scant evidence that [Hillary Clinton] intended to break classification rules,” according to a May 5 Washington Post report. The article noted that “prosecutors are wrestling with the question of whether Clinton intended to violate the rules, and so far, the evidence seemed to indicate she did not”:

    Prosecutors and FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server have so far found scant evidence that the leading Democratic presidential candidate intended to break classification rules, though they are still probing the case aggressively with an eye on interviewing Clinton herself, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter

    [...]

    The involvement of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is not indicative that charges are imminent or even likely. One official said prosecutors are wrestling with the question of whether Clinton intended to violate the rules, and so far, the evidence seemed to indicate she did not.

    CNN underscored the findings in the Washington Post article, reporting that “The investigation is still ongoing, but so far investigators haven't found evidence to prove that Clinton willfully violated the law.” The reports join the growing chorus of legal experts and government officials who have undermined claims made by right-wing media figures, who have repeatedly scandalized Clinton’s use of a private email server by arguing that she broke the law using her server for State Department emails.

    Fox News’ chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, who has a history of hyping evidence-free claims, most recently reported on May 4 that “the infamous Romanian hacker known as ‘Guccifer’ … easily – and repeatedly – breached former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server,” a claim parroted by various right-wing media figures.

    But U.S. officials “dismissed claims [by “Guccifer”] that he was able to breach Clinton’s personal email server,” according to the Post, noting, “investigators have found no evidence to support the assertion.” NBC News also reported that the hacker “could provide no documentation to back up his claims,” and Politico reported that an “internal FBI review of Clinton’s email records did not indicate traces of hacking.”

    Fox also alleged that the Obama administration is “slow-rolling” the Select Committee on Benghazi Committee’s investigation into Clinton’s email use, scandalizing the fact that a “special unit to review Benghazi documents” was convened later than expected.

    The Department of Defense recently criticized the committee, slamming it for “straining the department's resources” chasing “documents and interviews” often based on “speculative or hypothetical” queries, according to Politico. A letter sent by Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger derided the Republican-led committee’s “multiple and changing requests,” some of which have been “unfair … unproductive … [and] unnecessary,” and implored the committee to “remain focused on obtaining facts rather than encouraging speculation.”

    Since Clinton’s use of private email was revealed, conservative media figures have made multiple baseless allegations, only to be burned by facts. The new revelations that investigators have not yet found evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton only add to the growing list of debunked myths spuriously pushed by right-wing media.  

  • George Will: Republicans Must Keep Trump Out Of The White House Even If He's The Nominee

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor George Will urged Republicans to keep Donald Trump out of the White House if he is selected as the Republican nominee for president, writing that political prudence “demands the prevention of a Trump presidency.”

    Many right-wing media pundits and commentators have expressed their fear of a Trump nomination, with some joining the so-called “Never Trump” movement. Those conservative have vowed that they would actively oppose Trump even if he became the nominee, with some like Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol vowing to recruit a third-party candidate to run against Trump, and others stating they would vote for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump if she becomes the Democratic nominee.

    In his April 29 Washington Post column headlined “If Trump is nominated, the GOP must keep him out of the White House,” Will committed himself to this movement, arguing that the GOP needs to be rebuilt from the damage Trump has done to the party, and urging voters to support Cruz so that the Republican convention can “choose a plausible nominee” who might win a general election, instead of “passively affirm[ing] the will of a mere plurality of voters.” If Trump becomes the Republican nominee for president, Will wrote, conservatives have the task of “help[ing] him lose 50 states” so the GOP can preserve its identity:

    Donald Trump’s damage to the Republican Party, although already extensive, has barely begun. Republican quislings will multiply, slinking into support of the most anti-conservative presidential aspirant in their party’s history. These collaborationists will render themselves ineligible to participate in the party’s reconstruction.

    […]

    Republican voters, particularly in Indiana and California, can, by supporting Cruz, make the Republican convention a deliberative body rather than one that merely ratifies decisions made elsewhere, some of them six months earlier. A convention’s sovereign duty is to choose a plausible nominee who has a reasonable chance to win, not to passively affirm the will of a mere plurality of voters recorded episodically in a protracted process.

    Trump would be the most unpopular nominee ever, unable to even come close to Mitt Romney’s insufficient support among women, minorities and young people. In losing disastrously, Trump probably would create down-ballot carnage sufficient to end even Republican control of the House.

    […]

    The minority of people who pay close attention to politics includes those who define an ideal political outcome and pursue it, and those who focus on the worst possible outcome and strive to avoid it. The former experience the excitements of utopianism, the latter settle for prudence’s mild pleasure of avoiding disappointed dreams. Both sensibilities have their uses, but this is a time for prudence, which demands the prevention of a Trump presidency.

    Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states — condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life.

    […]

    If Trump is nominated, Republicans working to purge him and his manner from public life will reap the considerable satisfaction of preserving the identity of their 162-year-old party while working to see that they forgo only four years of the enjoyment of executive power.

  • Wash. Post Debunks Right-Wing Myth That The Gender Wage Gap Results From Women's Choices

    New Research Shows The Gender Pay Gap Is Widening For College Graduates

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    The Washington Post highlighted new research demonstrating that pay disparities between men and women “start earlier in their careers than frequently assumed and have significantly widened” among college graduates in the past year. The research debunks a claim frequently promoted by right-wing media outlets that the obvious pay discrimination faced by millions of American women is the result of their personal and professional choices.

    In an April 28 post for The Washington Post's Wonkblog, reporter Danielle Paquette highlighted research from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and American Association of University Women (AAUW) demonstrating that pay disparities between men and women start as soon as students graduate from college, persist regardless of chosen career fields, and are actually worse for college graduates than for women with only a high school education. The research stands as yet more evidence against the misleading claim frequently pushed by conservative media outlets that the gender pay gap, if it exists at all, is actually the fault of women who pursue less lucrative professions and forgo career opportunities to have children and raise a family.

    From The Washington Post (emphasis added):

    Pay disparities between men and women start earlier in their careers than frequently assumed and have significantly widened for young workers in the past year, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute.

    Paychecks for young female college graduates are about 79 percent as large as those of their male peers, the think tank found -- a serious drop from 84 percent last year.

    The sudden change follows a more gradual shift. In 2000, women ages 21 to 24 with college degrees earned 92 percent of their male counterparts’ wages on average, which was unchanged from 1990.

    Regardless of their education, young women typically earn less money than young men in the United States. Female high-school graduates, ages 21 to 24, now earn an average of 92 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.

    [...]

    Some have argued that the wage gap, at any stage of a woman’s life, starts with her choices. Women are more likely than men to scale back at work when they start a family, for instance. (Employers are also more likely to reward fathers and penalize mothers.) But EPI's data shows that the gender wage gap cracks open right after college graduation, well before decisions like maternity leave can affect women’s earnings.

    [...]

    A 2015 AAUW report of workers one year out of college found considerable pay differences between men and women in the same career fields.

    Women who majored in business, for example, earned an average of $38,000, while men bagged just more than $45,000. In engineering, computer and information sciences fields, young female graduates earned between 77 and 88 percent of what their male colleagues made.

    Across all fields, after controlling for major, occupation and grade-point average, the report found women still earned 7 percent less than men.

  • Washington Post’s Waldman Explains How Donald Trump And Conservatives Spread Misinformation About The US Economy

    Paul Waldman: Between Republicans And Democrats’ Visions Of The Economy, "Only One Is Based In Reality"

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman described how GOP front-runner Donald Trump and conservatives are spreading misinformation about the economy to downplay economic success made during the Obama administration. Trump’s misinformation has been fueled and perpetuated by right-wing media outlets like Fox News.

    In an April 28 op-ed, Washington Post opinion blogger, Paul Waldman explained how Republicans are misleading about the health of the economy while dishonestly ignoring positive economic trends. Waldman specifically highlighted Donald Trump’s misinformation and how it drastically contrasted with reality:

    Here’s Donald Trump’s economic story:

    The economy is an absolute nightmare. Americans are living in such misery that they’re practically eating their own shoes in order to survive. If we cut taxes on the wealthy, reduce regulations on corporations, renegotiate trade agreements, and deport all illegal immigrants, then our economy will be spectacular and working people will experience American greatness again.

    [...]

    Trump’s story is the same one other Republicans tell, with the addition of the idea that “bad deals” on trade have had a crippling effect on the country. For the moment we’ll put aside the merits of Trump’s claim that imposing enormous tariffs on Chinese goods will cause all those jobs sewing clothing and assembling electronics to come pouring into the United States, but the political question around Trump’s story is whether people will believe his over-the-top description of both what’s happening now and the transformation he will be able to produce.

    […]

    Today, the objective reality is a lot closer to the way Democrats describe it, in large part because they aren’t offering an extreme version of their truth. If Obama and Clinton were more rhetorically similar to Donald Trump, they’d be saying that this is the greatest economy in the history of human civilization, everybody has a terrific job, and there’s so much prosperity that the only question any American has is whether to spend their money on everything they could ever want or just roll around in it like Scrooge McDuck.

    But they aren’t saying that. Instead, they’re attempting the tricky balancing act of emphasizing the progress Obama has made while acknowledging the long-term weaknesses in the economy. Both of those things are real. Since the bottom of the Great Recession early in Obama’s first term, the economy has added 14 million jobs, and unemployment is now at 5 percent. On the other hand, income growth has been concentrated at the top and Americans still feel uncertain about their economic futures.

    Donald Trump has chosen to pretend that the good things about the American economy don’t exist, and weave a laughable fantasy about what his policies will produce (“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created”).

    Trump’s misinformation echoes right-wing media, who often stoke fears and downplay positive changes in the U.S. economy.