I have not been alive in Germany at a time that the accusation of a Lügenpresse existing being bandied around commonly. And at first I was quite surprised that I would be alive to hear that this was the case in the United States.
President-elect Trump’s relationship with the media is a difficult one. He does not control his narrative when his story is told through third parties’ words. As a prolific tweeter, he has built his (previously mentioned) brand, and that is what people appreciate. It’s a damning sign of the demographics that have been shown to have elected him that they don’t recognise the term they’re using was favoured by American enemy Adolf Hitler (or they don’t care. That makes quite the pair).
The fact that the first news organisation to publicly reveal the rumours and dossier is Buzzfeed, an atypical source of news better known for clickbait and pop culture quizzes (but increasingly well-operating in the realm of long-form pieces), should in an ideal world undermine the claim. Yet in fact its association with precisely the content it’s normally known for means that its credibility still remains questioned. Trump idolisers won’t accept news from sources that do not reaffirm his image they have already created. Buzzfeed does not fall into this category, I am quite certain.
It doesn’t matter whether the accusations are true or false. At least not to Putin and Trump. Either (truly binary) option ties the two together more strongly. If it were false, both would be righteously insulted and victims of a smear campaign. If it were true to any extent, it is clear that there is a relationship underlying the politics that needs one another – now that it is in the open, Putin too would do well to have American support, even if it were forced by a Presidential Executive Order (by-passing the group of russophobic Senators led by Senator John McCain), because it would be surprising if any other countries would present themselves neutrally with him any longer. Trump would also seem a joke on the foreign policy frontier.
But like in my first post in 2017, I have a feeling that this will trouble Trump less. His election promises strongly focused on national policy-making: providing jobs, providing access to healthcare, providing safe and strong borders (to lower immigration), providing justice in the face of corruption et cetera et cetera. He has avowed that the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars/interventions were wrong (after being a supporter, but remember, everything he said, he said in an authentic manner), so a withdrawal from the interventionist, hawkish approach to foreign relations will be understandable, even with an increase in spending (it’s the borders, stupid!).
And so at the end of it all, the depravity leaks are a storm in a teacup. The media gains nothing from covering it, as people flee more into their bubbles of “news”, from whatever source that reaffirms their beliefs. “Western” countries know less and less what to believe as Putin-inspired internet insurgency catches fire. And Putin makes jokes about how Russian prostitutes are the best. How would he know (somebody should ask)? Who cares! It seems like a paradigm shift of political understanding may be ahead of us.
(Photo credit goes to Stephen Edmonds)