“Trump is lying more and he is doing it on purpose“, the New Yorker writes in one of many articles online about the number of lies president Donald Trump has told (“2,140 in his first year, in just the last six months, he has nearly doubled that total to 4,229”).
The image of these journalists counting every single untruth (according to others mostly ‘frames, half-lies or hyperbolic fantasies in the act of persuasion‘) for the sake of shattering us with these “astonishing” numbers feels like a lonely job – at this point.
The mere fact that lying as an act of deceit is bad doesn’t become more convincing (or bad) when it happens more often, not even if the leader of the free world does it. On the contrary, screeming “LIAR” on a daily basis just reminds me of all the lies that politicians everywhere use all the time – the ones that didn’t make it to the statistics or headlines. Like ‘wir schaffen das‘ (‘we can do this’) by chancellor Angela Merkel for example. The truth is Germany is morally and politically in ruins because of it. Remember Bill Clinton “didn’t have sexual relations with that woman” and Tony Blair knew there were weapons of mass destruction in Irak. These are just the lies that come to mind during a sip of my coffee.
So the The New Yorker’s main twist on the story, saying that Trump lies and he does it on purpose is supposed to do away with this overpowering feeling of indifference. But does anyone who lies nót do it on purpose? Is lying by accident, or unconsciously even possible and if so, is that different in terms of how worried we should be? Is that less bad?
While trying to emphasize Trumps bad faith, The New Yorker is in fact upholding or introducing the idea of lying unconsciously. The article suggests that lying with good faith is somehow excusable – as long as it doesn’t hurt the story they (the journalists) are willing to believe and as long as it respects the believers involved.
Let me explain. Politicians lie to achieve a goal, to convince an opponent or the public that he or she is the man or woman for the job. A politician won’t admit he only believes in 25% of what he’s saying. He knows that tax-cut will never happen, that schools will continue to be the places where we indoctrinate children – and he doesn’t care about the poor. The Lie is an accepted truth. The point is, facts don’t matter in politics and they never did. Politicians smile and dine with our enemies, and laugh at us behind our backs in the company of their friends.
It only becomes a real problem when the lies lead to horrible outcomes. The lies of socialist president Maduro in Venezuela led to a country in ruins. The lies of Hitler, Stalin and Mao to hundreds of million dead. The lies of Merkel led to a deeply divided Europe and a migrant crisis. The lies about a ‘stronger’, ‘safer’ and more ‘stable’ Europe because of the EU (by the way, who’s counting those untruths) is leading to the demise of their own institutions. The horrible outcomes are sometimes the result of good intentions, but lies nevertheless.
The lies of Donald Trump have not shown any disastrous side-effects (as far as anyone has been able to tell), apart from the loss of sanity on the side of his unconsciously lying critics, or should I say: patients with Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).
I believe they actually believe they are not lying on purpose because they are guessing that Trump is a bad person for not lying like they do: in good faith, with good intentions (saving the world from disaster). The number of unintentionally untruthful lies is not a matter of counting but acknowledging as the bigger threat.