Opinion » Letter From The Editor

Fake News Uses You

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I haven't been writing about President Trump lately. One reason I haven't is that you can read all you want to read about Trump, anytime you want to. In fact, you could easily spend all your waking hours reading about Donald Trump. The other reason is that when I write about Trump on Tuesday afternoon, my column is often old news by Wednesday noon, especially if the president is watching morning television and tweeting, which appears to rival golf as his favorite activity.

This morning, for example, Trump tweeted: "Sorry folks, but if I would have relied on the Fake News of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, washpost or nytimes, I would have had ZERO chance winning WH."

I suspect the only reason Trump didn't add Reuters, AP, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Guardian, NPR, PBS, and other major news outlets to that list is that Twitter limits him to 140 characters.

In the face of increasing pressure from the multiple investigations into his campaign's connections to the Russian hacking of the presidential election, and — quite naturally — the increasing number of stories on those investigations, Trump is left with one option: Convince the American people that every news outlet is "fake," except the few who will support him, no matter what he does.

Part of this effort is the creation of his own fake news operation, which now includes 15 million fake Twitter followers, most of which are "bots" with no followers and no personal identification. But he also has many "followers" such as "Hispanics for Trump" and "Italian-Americans for Trump," bogus accounts created by hackers who retweet Trump and defend him on comment sites and help spread false news stories.

I can't recommend strongly enough that you read a post that circulated this week called "How the Trump-Russia Data Machine Games Google to Fool Americans." It's staggering how we're being played. One example cited occurred on May 15th, when Trump met with Russian officials in the White House and leaked classified intel to them. The mainstream media ran story after story about the incident. Then, oddly enough, the next day, May 16th, on right-wing media sites, a flood of stories appeared about the time President Obama leaked classified intel about the bin Laden raid that "got people killed." Don't remember that? That's because it didn't happen. Yet, if you googled "Obama collusion bin Laden" on May 16th, six years after bin Laden was taken out, the first four pages of Google listed stories about the mythical incident.

That's fake news, folks. And it's a weapon being used by the Russians and by Trump's newly reactivated "war room." It's why Trump suddenly has millions more "followers" than he had two weeks ago. They are cyber soldiers whose mission is to spread disinformation and confuse the American public — to provide ammunition for your (often unwitting) Trump-loving friends in the war for American hearts and minds.

None of this is normal. All of this should be terrifying. The very institutions our republic is based on — the free press, the judiciary, our intelligence and law enforcement services — are all under assault from this president. The mainstream press is "fake news." The judicial system is full of biased, crackpot judges. The CIA, FBI, NSA, and other intelligence and law-enforcement organizations are now the "deep state," whose only mission is to bring down our fearless and flawless leader.

People, this is not normal. This is not who we are. This administration has no coherent policies on the environment or trade or foreign relations or NATO or health-care or the budget. As hurricane season approaches, we have no FEMA director. Hundreds of posts in the state department, justice department, and other critical agencies have gone unfilled while the president blathers and lies and tweets and golfs. He is unstable. He has made us the laughingstock of the free world. He needs to go, and soon, before he takes the country down with him. He is falling apart in front of our eyes.

This week, former FBI director James Comey testifies before Congress. If his testimony, as is expected, provides further evidence of obstruction of justice, it will likely ratchet up the pressure on this president and begin a process that could lead to Trump's impeachment. It can't happen soon enough.

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