Every once in a while, I have a fantasy that I’ll wake up to learn that the entire Trump debacle has been one big practical joke played upon the American people and that Andy Kaufman may soon jump out of a Trump fat suit. Sadly, it doesn’t look like that will happen, but a report published on Tuesday shows that while Andy Kaufman is nowhere to be found, the Trump White House is playing jokes on the American people. Specifically, they are baiting the media with their own fake news and turning it into a game — all while complaining that they are the victims of “fake news.”
“They all lie,” said a conservative journalist with close ties to the West Wing, who described an informal contest to smuggle the biggest whoppers into print. “It’s a game to them.”
All of this has combined to make the press office useless in the eyes of much of the press. “I don’t trust anything I’m told by a comms person,” said one correspondent. “If they’re telling me something’s wrong, I’m going to keep checking.”
But is the West Wing also intentionally screwing with reporters? “Probably not,” said the official with a smirk. “I’m kidding. I’m kidding.”
This is more than just fun, though. The Trump administration has been particularly confrontational to the free press. Treating the media as a hostile force isn’t anything new. President Obama’s administration had a notably adversarial relationship with the press, and so did many other presidents, but none that we know of lied out of fun.
This is all new for us and it’s dangerous, but with a potential silver lining. Post media consolidation, the profit-driven news has been lazy. The Iraq war happened because investigative journalism all but died. Donald Trump happened because investigative journalism all but died. If the media is taught to assume they’re being lied to, as they are now, perhaps critical reporting will return. At least we can hope. Still, chasing after each and every lie takes manpower and resources that our stripped down media outlets often don’t have.
Still, this revelation only further proves the contempt the Trump administration has for the American people. It’s despicable but almost understandable that they would lie to cover up crimes and unethical practices, like their ties to Russia, but lying just for fun is something we’ve never seen before and it proves that Trump is not a leader. He’s a schoolyard bully who thinks the White House is his personal playground.
Featured image via Pool/Getty Images.