December 1, 2016

During a panel on Diane Rehm's show, Trump surrogate and right-wing propagandist Scottie Nell Hughes declared facts to be as dead as fossils in the ground.

"There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts," Hughes stated. "And so Mr. Trump's tweet amongst a certain crowd, a large -- a large part of the population, are truth."

She continued with her insidious denial of factual information, saying, "When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some -- in his -- amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up."

We can believe the moon is made of cream cheese, too, but that doesn't make it fact. We can believe in flying reindeer, but that, too, is not fact. And then she hit the punch line.

"Those that do not like Mr. Trump, they say that those are lies, and there's no facts to back it up. So..."

Of course, facts don't really express likes or dislikes. They are facts, free of bias toward or against any one person. Her declaration that fact-checking somehow means that reporters should not call out lies for fear of being considered biased is not just wrong, it's dangerous.

This discussion about people voting illegally is just a distraction, and of course it's not fact-based, as Glenn Thrush pointed out. Hughes cited some debunked studies before abandoning it altogether for more of her usual spin.

Here's the problem. Scottie Nell Hughes is still a CNN commentator. She still has an audience. And she just went on NPR and told everyone facts don't matter. Not only don't they matter, they don't exist.

This is not normal. This is a chilling reminder of the mania that caused Hitler to believe it was fine to engage in ethnic cleansing in Germany in the 1930s, that empowered him to commit unspeakable crimes against humanity, with the help of his own spinners, like Leni Riefenstahl and Josef Goebbels. It is, I repeat, not normal.

Scottie Nell Hughes should not be offered a platform on NPR or CNN to spin this sort of nonsense out into the public sphere. There is no set of circumstances under which it makes any sense at all to allow these people to continue spewing propaganda into the mainstream. She, and others like her, do not deserve a seat at the table.

I'd argue that's how we got here in the first place. The false idea that putting on "both sides" to comment on issues and candidates -- no matter how bizarre that commentary is -- should be blasted into airports, hotels, bars, and people's living room is simply wrong.

Ironically, this panel was all about how journalists are rethinking their role in a Trump presidency. Maybe they could start by refusing to allow professional propagandists on their air.

Here's one time she probably actually did state a fact. When she explained that Trump's "rigged election claims" were just his way of getting out the vote. Too bad he didn't get out enough voters to actually win the popular vote, Scottie. That too, is a fact. He will lose by 2% or more of all the voters in this nation who voted, counting his win as his own only because of tiny margins in three states and shrinking. That is a fact, and it's one she'd do well to remember.

(h/t Erik Wemple/Washington Post)

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