Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Trump Tweets A Lie (Sigh)

Click here for an article by Philip Bump at The Washington Post entitled "You’ll never guess who tweeted something false that he saw on TV."

As everyone knows by now, Trump watches a lot of cable TV news; he's particularly enamored of Fox News (Fox & Friends, Hannity). Shortly after running a segment on an attack on AQ in Yemen, Fox tweeted: "Former Gitmo detainee killed by a U.S. airstrike in Yemen; at least 122 former Gitmo detainees have re-engaged in terrorism." Half an hour later, Trump tweeted:
122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!
Notice a significant difference? That's right: Trump blamed Obama for the release of the 122 Gitmo prisoners. Fox didn't. And the facts don't support Trump's tweet.

Bump provides graphs illustrating the numbers, data obtained from the office of the Director of National Intelligence: 693 prisoners have been released from Guantanamo Bay. Of that number, 485 have not returned to the battlefield; 86 may have returned; 122 have returned. Of the 86 who may have returned to the battlefield, 75 were released by Bush, 11 by Obama. of the 122 who have definitely returned, 113 were released by Bush, 9 by Obama.

So Trump, for the gazillionth time, lies by distortion, unjustifiably attributing blame to Obama. But a pattern has emerged in Trump's lying and/or misleading tweets. He sees something on TV, something which may be sensationalized and distorted for the purposes of entertainment, and something which he may not completely understand; he later tweets something on the subject, which he may not remember entirely correctly; his tweet is debunked; but rather than acknowledge his error -- Trump would rather pull out his own fingernails with pliers -- he simply drops the matter and moves on to his next distortion/lie.

The problem is that his tweet is avidly seized upon by his devotees and is spread throughout the fever swamp of the right wing and alt-right. Perhaps half of the Trump supporters who hear of and believe his tweet become aware of the fact that it has been debunked, and the other half don't (they don't frequent those media -- "fake news," don't you know). Perhaps half of the people who become aware of the debunking believe it; the other half choose not to. And since Trump never acknowledges a mistake, that's where the matter lies: Perhaps three-quarters of Trump's followers believe Trump's lie/distortion/partial truth and never question it again. It just becomes part of the political Internet lore forevermore: "Obama released 122 prisoners from Gitmo who returned to the battlefield! Sad!"


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