As everyone indulges in their year-end retrospectives, the question pops up: What to do when Trump just blatantly lies about something?
CNN's panel tackled that question in the context of Trump's claim he has signed more legislation than anyone in his first year, breaking Harry Truman's record. I have no idea how many pieces of legislation Harry Truman signed and think the notion of a president citing legislation as a metric of his success is actually really stupid. Nevertheless, it is a thing and he is lying about it.
In fact, Trump has signed fewer bills than any president since Eisenhower, which begs the obvious question: Why does he lie about everything?
David Chalian pointed out that he has lied throughout his career, but he downplayed it as exaggeration of the facts. "You remember he wrote in a book the whole virtue of hyperbole in business and his business career," Chalian reminded.
"There he is once again, the President of the United States is out there speaking a demonstrable untruth," Chalian concluded.
Keilar then turned to Bloomberg News reporter Shannon Pettypiece for her thoughts.
This is what Pettypiece said:
"And he is the master of marketing and branding and said he was the biggest real estate developer in New York. That was not true. One of his close friends is even a bigger real estate developer than him. He knew that and he was bragging he was a bigger developer than a close friend."
"It's marketing and branding and messaging. It's Branding 101. Repeat the same things. It was the best year of Making America Great Again and he sticks with the story."
"That's Donald Trump the businessman, I think."
Gosh, Shannon. Some of us actually use the term the Big Lie, the Hitlerian theory of propaganda. If you repeat the lie over and over again, it becomes truth.
This is how media pundits normalize a monster like Donald Trump: First, they refuse to use the term "lie," choosing gentler terms like "misspoke." When they realize there are outright lies, they timidly introduce the term into their reports, but only occasionally because as they argue, a lie suggests intent to mislead and maybe intent isn't there (it is).
Then a brave journalist or chyron writer dares to use the term "lie" in a situation where the lie is obvious, where facts are clear.
And then that claim must then be gently and carefully excused as Pettypiece did, by making the ridiculous excuse that this is "Branding 101."
It's not branding. It's a lie. And it's propaganda, and it isn't harmless. It's dangerous, nasty gaslighting and lying and it should be called that.
Wake up, reporters. You're almost out of time.