A remarkable series of events was kicked off by Donald Trump ranting at a rally in Florida: “We've got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening last night, in Sweden! Sweden! Who would believe this, Sweden!”
That left the Swedes somewhat puzzled, since absolutely nothing of any significance had happened "last night, in Sweden." There were a number of humorous responses. Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister, tweeted: ""Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound."
Trump explained that what he had seen “last night” was not a terrorist attack — though that was certainly implied in his speech — but a filmmaker named Ami Horowitz who was interviewed by Tucker Carlson on Fox News. The interview was indeed terrifying: For those unfamiliar with the techniques of emotional manipulation — and they are the same, whether used by Fox News or Russia Today — it should be mandatory viewing. As the two were speaking, a clip of an aggressive, brown-skinned man hitting a policeman, presumably in Sweden, alternated in the background, over and over, with a clip of a burning car. The repetitive, frightening images were bolstered by more clips from Horowitz’s film, in which Swedish police officers appeared to be confirming a massive rise in crime linked to immigration. Carlson, meanwhile, marveled at the stupidity and naivete of the Swedish nation helpless to confront this menace. No wonder the president was upset.Swedish police protested that Horowitz had never spoken with them about any immigration problem. Then came the next step, as our friends at Fox News tried to keep the pot boiling:
A few days later, searching for a way to justify the president’s language, another Fox News journalist, Bill O’Reilly, interviewed a “Swedish defense and national security advisor” called Nils Bildt, who again repeated the allegation that naive Swedes are overwhelmed by foreign crime. But Nils “Bildt” turned out to be Nils Tolling — he may have taken the name Bildt to sound like a relative of the Swedish former prime minister Carl Bildt — and he too was not quite what he seemed. Tolling does not live in Sweden, is not an “advisor” to anyone and is reportedly himself a criminal immigrant , having been convicted of a violent offense in the state of Virginia.But there was more:
A few days later, a Danish news team visited a Swedish immigrant neighborhood to investigate the alleged crisis — the same neighborhood where an American journalist claimed he had been escorted out by police, a report which the police once again deny. The Danes met a group of young immigrants who said they had just been approached by yet another news team — that one from Russia — who asked if they would riot on camera, for money. Like Carlson and O’Reilly, the Russian team was apparently keen to make reality fit the president’s description of reality, even if it cost them a few Swedish krone.So what is the truth? That's going to be increasingly tough to determine in the Age of Trump.