On the long, long list of Trump’s falsehoods and misstatements, this one barely registers. It is not as significant, for example, as a couple weeks ago when the stock market was fluctuating under the weight of a trade war with China and the president claimed, “China called last night our top trade people and said, ‘Let’s get back to the table.’ ” This was news to Chinese officials, and White House aides admitted that it was a fabrication designed to stabilize the stock market.
Think about that: The president of the United States lies about communications with a foreign power in order to boost the stock market, and it doesn’t cause a ripple. That’s what happens when somebody makes more than 12,000 false statements — according to The Washington Post — in about 32 months.
We have become so inured to an administration that is pathologically incapable of telling the truth that we don’t even notice anymore. Instead, we get a chuckle and six days of news about SharpieGate. As columnist Leonard Pitts wrote: “We are living the fable of the emperor’s new clothes, only it’s not a fable, and the emperor has nuclear weapons.”
The kerfuffle over the altered hurricane map arrived at roughly the same time the vice president went out of his way to stay at a Trump property while traveling abroad, the administration redirected billions of dollars from military spending to build a wall that Mexico (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) was going to pay for, and the president tweeted a surveillance photo of Iran that might or might not have been classified. And yet the public was distracted by SharpieGate.
Which makes us wonder if this might be a good strategy for newspapers. When you get something wrong, insist that you were right. When you’re still wrong, produce a falsified map. When you’re still wrong, demand an apology from those who point it out.
Of course, we would never do that; no reputable newspaper would. We make a habit of running corrections when we get something wrong. That is what Americans demand from their media and their children and spouses and co-workers.
Which kind of is the point of this absurdity: When we expect more maturity and professionalism from newspapers or school kids than we do from the president, we truly are lost.