Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 8:16 pm | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Ted Rall: Team Clinton Attacks Trump’s Lies with ... Lies

Hillary Clinton's strategists have identified Donald Trump's innumerable lies as a major weakness in his campaign for president. They're smart. Trump does lie a lot. He often gets caught lying.

Voters want their next president to be trustworthy.

What the Clintonites and their allies in the media don't seem to understand, however, is that if your attacks on your rival's truthfulness are themselves based on lies, your efforts are doomed to failure.

In a recent op-ed column for The New York Times, Charles M. Blow wrote that Trump "is prone to making up his own set of false facts." (Let's leave aside the fact that, by definition, facts are true.)

"[Trump] wildly exaggerated the number of immigrants in this country illegally and 'inner city' crime rates," Blow wrote. "He said President Obama founded ISIS and that the Obama administration was actively supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group that became the Islamic State."

I like Blow and often agree with him — though, for the life of me, I will never understand why he was so hard on Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries and so willing to excuse Hillary Clinton's dismal record on issues of concern to African-Americans and LGBTQ people.

Now he appears to have embraced the two-party trap, using his platform to bash Trump. That's his right, of course. What I find fascinating is Blow's willingness to resort to untruth to make his case for Clinton. Is it really so difficult to focus on Trump and his well-documented lies?

Consider the above quote, for example. It's true that Trump said that there were 30 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Nowadays, he acknowledges the widely accepted 11 million figure, albeit with the caveat that government statistics shouldn't be trusted because they are compiled by incompetents.

"Our government has no idea. It could be three million. It could be 30 million," he said recently.

Trump is right. It's impossible to know for sure, although the range is probably narrower than his example. The point is, the Times and Charles Blow willfully misrepresented Trump's position by dragging up an ancient quote, since corrected. It's the kind of thing Trump does, and it's sleazy.

Similarly, it's a stretch to say that Trump "wildly exaggerated" inner-city crime rates. Politifact has backed away from its previous assessment that he had lied about an uptick in urban crime. It's pretty clear that Trump was referring to the widely reported rise in crime in cities like Chicago.

The media has seized upon his use of the modifier "record" in the phrase "record high;" while crime has indeed been higher historically, shootings have spiked in places like Chicago.

The ISIS claim is particularly unworthy of a storied newspaper like The New York Times. When Donald Trump called President Obama "the founder of ISIS," it's obvious to everyone what he meant. He was being colloquial. He was speaking like a normal person.

Obviously Obama wasn't literally at the founding of ISIS. Trump meant that Obama's policies — namely his financing and arming of the radical Islamic fundamentalists in Syria's civil war, a faction of which became ISIS, and the drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq which created a vacuum of power — effectively created the group as the monster we know it as today.

Many Middle East experts agree with this assessment, as do mainstream political observers, including some who oppose Trump. Blow's nitpicking is unbecoming, inaccurate and so transparent as to be totally ineffectual.

Another Times columnist, Frank Bruni, recently repeated the oft-cited claim that Trump treasonously "encouraged" Russian hackers to steal U.S. government records and interfere with the election when he sarcastically suggested:

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."

Give me a break. I'm not going to vote for The Donald. I think he's dangerous. But everyone knows exactly what he meant. He wasn't encouraging Russian hacking.

He was making a point in a humorous way:  that it's ridiculous and frustrating that Secretary Clinton got away with deleting so many public records.

Why are Clinton's people resorting to the exact same style of lying that they claim to criticize?

I don't know if it's because lying comes so naturally to them that they don't know how to do anything else, or if it's because they don't believe that the numerous legitimate criticisms of Trump — his breathtaking ignorance of history and politics, his glib encouragement of violence at his rallies, his inexperience in government, his authoritarian tendencies — aren't likely to get much traction.

What I do know is that, unlike Trump, they aren't fooling anyone.

Ted Rall is the author of Bernie, a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography Trump, comes out July 19 and is now available for pre-order. Click here to contact him, and follow him on Twitter: @TedRall. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >