Trump’s X-File

The U.S. president shares three Islamophobic videos on Twitter that come from the British far right.

The leader also intensifies his war with the press and with truth.

The truth, according to the mantra in the paranormal phenomena program “The X-Files,” is out there. In Donald Trump’s world, it is hard to find.

This Wednesday, the president of the United States once more encouraged Islamophobia by sharing three videos on his popular Twitter account (with 43.6 million followers) that pretend to present Muslims committing violent acts. His action has led to practically unanimous condemnation, including that coming from 10 Downing Street, where a spokesman asserted that “it is wrong for the president [of the United States] to have done this.”

It didn’t matter the least bit to Trump that the videos were disseminated by Jayda Fransen, an activist from the British far right organization Britain First, and who was convicted of a hate crime and charged for another crime of aggravated religious harassment. It also didn’t matter that the credibility of at least one of the videos has been called into question. As Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, told reporters, “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real. [The president’s] goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security. […] [T]he threat has to be talked about, and that’s what the president is doing in bringing it up.”

The episode is not surprising, coming from a president who in the past has retweeted white supremacist groups (which once more applauded him this Wednesday), who fuels and spreads conspiracy theories and who shared a quote by Benito Mussolini on that social network last year. But what is again in full force and effect today was something he said after giving voice to the Italian dictator: “Hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?”

Messaging Frenzy

During the last 72 hours, Trump again rolled out the messaging frenzy, which he alone (and perhaps his old chief strategist, Steve Bannon) knows to be either political strategy or instinct. And he has done this on the verge of December, a month that is key for his agenda.

He is trying to get the Republican-controlled Congress to pass a controversial tax reform bill, which would represent the single, great legislative accomplishment for his first year in office. But he’s also facing a crisis: If Republicans and Democrats haven’t reached a budget agreement by Dec. 8, the federal government may have insufficient funds to continue operating.

Under that scenario, everything is messy, and Trump’s Twitter fury is a contributing factor. And on Tuesday, for instance, the Democratic leaders of both houses cancelled their participation in a meeting with Trump and his Republican colleagues after the president implied on Twitter that no deal would be reached.

The flank of Trump’s war against the press is open, and it is where he remains resolute. However, in his obsessive condemnation of “fake news,” his attack on private TV stations such as CNN or NBC over the last few hours coincides with his own insistence on a parallel reality, particularly with regard to the sexual harassment allegations against him.

Sexual Predator

While the country is engrossed in a new wave of conscience and in a movement toward zero tolerance for harassment and abuse, two reports (first in The New York Times and then in The Washington Post) have revealed that Trump now denies the authenticity of the 2005 recording in which he boasted about being a sexual predator (the veracity of which he acknowledged when he apologized after the recording came to light, several weeks before the election). And this Wednesday, when Matt Lauer, one of NBC’s star journalists, was fired over allegations of assault, Trump did not miss the chance to request that the network’s executives, as well as those of MSNBC, be investigated. In passing, he has also resurrected a conspiracy theory (discredited by a police investigation) about another journalist (and former congressman) who was critical of him.

As The Washington Post reminded readers, since Trump arrived in the Oval Office, he has made at least 1,600 statements that are either lies or misleading. And, as reported by Greg Sargent in that newspaper, “Routinely, the lies are demonstrably false, often laughably so. But this actually serves his ends […] In both the volume and outsize defiance of his lies, Trump is asserting the power to declare the irrelevance of verifiable, contradictory facts, and with them, the legitimate institutional role of the free press.”

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