Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
The Fifth Week of Trump – Cognitive Dissonance
I just ended a long trying exchange on Facebook with an old friend of mine, someone I have known since childhood, by blocking him.
The exchange began with my friend suggesting that there was no merit behind claims being reported today in Newspapers across the country, that Russia had engaged in a long campaign to subvert the American electoral process, through the dissemination of propaganda, so-called “fake-news”, activities which we would normally call disinformation.
The Washington Post reported, and the story has been carried by newspapers around the country, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune among them, that the consensus of United States intelligence services has concluded that Russia sought to influence the election, and cast doubt on the outcomes, not just as a means of sewing chaos, but for the purpose of helping to elect Donald Trump.
All twelve of our intelligence gathering agencies concurred with this conclusion. Leaders in congress were informed prior to the election, and several members (not all) of the republican delegation objected to sharing this information in a bi-partisan release.
Lacking fulsome bi-partisan support, President Obama held onto the information and did not make any disclosures.
Donald Trump won.
Donald Trump won in the electoral college, but Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 2.8 million. The disinformation campaign worked enough at the margins of the key swing states, and in key precincts within those states to give Donald Trump the victory.
The disinformation has not stopped.
Donald Trump and his surrogates have continued to spew outrageous claims. Donald Trump has suggested that won the popular vote as well, because, he asserts, that millions of people voted who were not citizens or legally eligible to vote.
This is a lie.
Donald Trump has been president-elect for four weeks and he has only sat in on four of the presidential daily intelligence briefings, a primary duty of the president in fulfillment of his national security obligations. He is dismissive of it. He does not have time for it.
Concurrently he continues to assert that the national intelligence agencies who have provided the report on Russia’s involvement in the election are wrong. He says that are all wrong, all twelve agencies, Donald Trump and his surrogates fallaciously assert that these are the same people who provided the country with false information on weapons of mass destruction, which false reports were the precursor to the 2004 invasion of Iraq.
These are not the same people. These are career intelligence officers working across the wide spectrum of our intelligence services. The people who provided the false reports on WMD’s in Iraq were political appointees led by Vice President Dick Cheney, and CIA Director George Tennant, who manipulated the intelligence for political purposes. Donald’s Trumps refusal to accept, and attempts to discredit the reports on the election amount to the same thing, a politically motivated falsification of the data.
My friend, who is not a Donald Trump supporter, nevertheless picked up the Donald Trump line on this. The disinformation game is working full tilt in the American zeitgeist. My friend, who is ardently left-wing, spends a good amount of his time in the far left corners of the information web, and defends leftist conspiracies as readily as Donald Trump and his supporters defend theirs.
They have found common cause in their mutual defense of their private news sources and their attack on anything coming from the mainstream that might challenge them.
The diatribe my friend launched on me went straight to a defense of Russia, a defense of Bashar Assad of Syria, a defense of the Russian Invasion of the Crimea. A denial that Russia is involved in a campaign of Aggression in eastern Ukraine. He was fully co-opted into these positions out of a felt need to protect the integrity of his world view, which means the need to defend his use of private news sources.
For as long as I can remember the observation has been made with ironic mirth that if you go left far enough you are right. Extremists and fundamentalists on either side of the political spectrum find common cause at the furthest ends.
The cognitive dissonance is this, the main stream media, The Washington Post, The New York Times etc… they challenge the mal informed perspective of those on the fringes, therefore they cannot be trusted by those on the fringes. If they tell you that Russia has invaded Ukraine, they are lying, if they tell you that Russia successfully intervened the 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump they are lying.
This is the world we have landed in, not just a world that is post-factual, but a world in which wide swaths of the people are openly hostile to facts.
After many unsuccessful attempts to respond to my friend, only to be dismissed, and after many expressions of my exasperation with him, by openly calling him out as a liar and an apologist, and some other pointed and patronizing comments made by me.
I had to block him, not just unfollow him, but block him.
The lunatic fringe.