Donald Trump relies on propaganda for support

Utilizing “Fake News” 

Even before he made that slow, ominous descent down an escalator in 2015 to announce his running for president, Donald Trump began mastering the art of propaganda. As a businessman, he assembled a cult of personality around himself through relationships with David Pecker at American Media and eventually with his TV show The Apprentice. Five years later, the lines between truth and fiction seem ever blurrier.  

Trump has been playing the media for decades, but the last few years prove his reliance on generating propaganda. According to his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, they both coordinated with Pecker and the National Enquirer to catch and kill certain stories. “Catch and kill” is a shady tactic that involves buying the exclusive rights to information and then not publishing it, typically in order to silence accusers and shield the accused. One of these included the extra-marital affair between Trump and adult model Karen McDougal, whose story came to light around the same time as adult film star and director Stormy Daniels made similar allegations in 2018. Trump has accused just about every journalist of writing “fake news,” yet he seems incapable of speaking without lying or exaggerating. Fox News has always had a similar reputation, but under Trump, it has become almost like a state-sponsored media outlet. With the recent debate meltdown between Trump and Chris Wallace, that relationship might be a bit shaky.

After months of civil unrest led to the toppling of monuments around the world, Trump decided to fight back by unleashing a plan for “patriotic education” as he calls it. Many of those statues depicted extremely problematic figures in history, like Confederate generals or Christopher Columbus. Considering how most Civil War monuments came about during the Jim Crow era, long after the end of the war, they also upheld a sort of false history of their own. In the case of the statue and plaque that previously haunted the steps of the Colorado State Capitol, that monument used the phrase “Battle of Sand Creek” to describe the brutal massacre of indigenous people after they were forced to flee their homelands in Colorado.  

Tragically, patriotic education is nothing new. Anyone who went to public school in the United States read many of the same textbooks, often criticized for their whitewashing of history. As a result, The New York Times Magazine began the 1619 Project to help correct the distorted narrative of the last 400 years. Of course, Trump criticized this because it undermines his support; he entirely relies on this white supremacist history and those who support it, whether consciously or not.  It might seem like it’s been an effective strategy to confuse and discourage the general population by muddying the waters over the last few years. While many people still have faith in journalism, the credibility of the President has been lost. After contracting the coronavirus, it seems like Trump might finally have to reckon with the truth.  

This is a selection from the Oct. 14 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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