Donald Trump And His Dangerous Fictions

Trump’s trip to Mexico yesterday, and his statements in a press conference following his meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, appeared to show a more conciliatory side of the GOP presidential nominee.

After the meeting, Trump spoke of his “tremendous respect” for the Mexican leader, adding: “It’s been a tremendous honor, and I call [him] a friend.” Trump went on to say that the issue of a border wall hadn’t even come up during the encounter.

Except that it had.

Peña Nieto tweeted in Spanish after he met with Trump: “At the outset of the meeting, I made it clear that Mexico would not pay for the wall.” In a joint press conference following the meeting, Peña Nieto basically called Trump out as a liar in the most nonaggressive way possible, explaining that Trump’s characterization of immigration from Mexico is a “clearly incomplete version” of the issue.



It’s hard to understand what Trump was trying to accomplish by blatantly lying about parts of his discussion with Peña Nieto.

One thing is certain, he has time and time again lied about meeting people and continually confounds truth with imagination.

Trump has said that he met with top law-enforcement officers in the Chicago PD, a claim quickly refuted by the CPD in a statement that explained: “No one in the senior command at CPD has ever met with Donald Trump or a member of his campaign.”

He lied about seeing the footage of a plane loaded with cash landing in Iran. He eventually walked back that claim.

The list goes on. In fact, Politifact, the Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking site, rates 71% of Trump statements it has checked as either pants on fire, false or mostly false.

In a normal election season, continually lying — and being called out on those lies — would be political suicide. But as anyone who even barely follows this cycle know, this is not a normal presidential election.

Trump supporters don’t seem to care that he manipulates the truth — and then modifies it even more the next time he’s on air. They like being provoked, whether the provocation is real or imagined.

As a reality TV star, Trump deeply understands that the general public likes fiction that reminds them of real life. But it’s a different — and disorienting — type of fictional world when the media calls out a politician’s lie. And the public then calls the fact-check a lie. Welcome to the world of cognitive dissonance.

My guess is Trump likes making stuff up. He’s used to it, and his supporters like it, too. He started his campaign lambasting the rapists, criminals and drug dealers Mexico is “sending” to the United States.

Lying about a meeting with another head of state, however, is a whole different ball game. Heads of state command a military, can impose sanctions and take their grievances to the international community, much of which is deeply confused and worried about the prospect of a Trump presidency.

As my editor puts it, we need a 21st-century Edward R. Murrow to get things in order. John, Chuck, George, keep pressing Trump and press him harder. Maybe we’ll start to realize the danger.

6 comments about "Donald Trump And His Dangerous Fictions".
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  1. Steve Schiedermayer from Schiedermayer & Associates, Inc., September 1, 2016 at 12:21 p.m.

    Philip - are you thinking about spending column-time reviewing Hillary's untruths as well? Or do you only cover one side of the equation? Just not seeing much balance or intellectual honesty or journalistic curiosity in the range of topics you select to write about. I guess the proof of balance would be to see coverage over time that tells both sides.

  2. Laurence Rutter from Rudders & Moorings Yacht Sales, September 1, 2016 at 12:26 p.m.

    Seriously? Trump said the issue of the wall never came up? Do yourself a favor and listen to the q&a at the end of the session. Trump specifically stated that the wall WAS discussed, but that payment for the wall was not discussed.

    Get your facts straight.

    if Nieto says that he stated that Mexico would not pay
    for it, and that's as far as the conversation went,
    then Trump was accurate. Payment for the wall
    was not discussed. You can debate that point if you want,
    but you weren't privy to the conversation so you
    dont know

    But to say that Trump said it wasn't discussed is
    total crap.

  3. Philip Rosenstein from Law360 replied, September 1, 2016 at 12:46 p.m.

    Thanks for the comment, Steve - I have an opinion and this is an opinion column. I do agree that covering both sides is important to a complete view of the election. Yesterday I wrote about Clinton's unwillingness to hold a press conference and the bad precedent that could set. She is clearly a flawed candidate. We've also heavily covered her email scandal, and it's clear that she has not been entirely straightforward in her answers about the matter. We'll see how she responds to such questions in the debates.

  4. Philip Rosenstein from Law360 replied, September 1, 2016 at 12:56 p.m.

    You are absolutely right, Laurence - I meant to write that "payment" for the wall was not discussed in the meeting. Of course, I was not privy to the conversation, but the accounts from the two on that matter are different, which is worrisome. The point that Trump seems to have misrepresented what was discussed still holds.
    Thanks for clearing that up, I appreciate the engagement.

  5. Micah Touchet from NewBirth Creative Design Agency, September 1, 2016 at 1:34 p.m.

    "He likes making stuff up. He's used to it, and his supporters like it, too."

    Blather, blather, blather > spell-check > publish.

  6. Laurence Rutter from Rudders & Moorings Yacht Sales, September 2, 2016 at 6:44 a.m.


    So the "accounts from the two...are different". You were "not privy to the conversation" and yet "Trump seems to have misrepresented what was discussed".  Why do you insist that Trump misrepresented what was said, when you have no idea if he did or didn't?

    There are other very possible scenarios.

    1) Nieto might have misrepresented what was said. How do you know he's not trying
    to save face with his people?

    2) Nieto did make a statement, and Trump responded that this wasn't the time to discuss payment for the wall? Which is what he said at the Q&A. Payment was not discussed.

    In either of the above scenarios, Trump would be correct.

    You are the one that has misrepresented the situation as it is known.

    Stick to the facts if you want to have any credibility and don't inject your obviously biased non-factual viewpoint.

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