If you’ve listened to Donald Trump speak at any point over the past year and a half, you’ve likely heard him use the phrase “fake news.” It’s become one of his favorite rebuttals — so much so, in fact, that he claimed to have invented the term “fake news” in late October. Much like the man himself, this marvelously idiotic assertion is what happens when you combine boundless egotism and staggering ignorance.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post published the story of Jaime T. Phillips, a woman who approached the newspaper claiming to have engaged in a sexual relationship with Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate. Phillips told Post reporters that she and Moore had engaged in a sexual relationship, culminating in Phillips being forced to get an abortion when she was only 15 years old.
The allegation aligned perfectly with Moore’s apparent modus operandi (four women allege that Moore’s sexual misconduct took place when they were in their teens and Moore was in his thirties). Moreover, the hypocrisy of a pro-life, Bible-thumping, conservative Republican forcing his teenaged paramour to get an abortion would be extra ammunition for Moore’s political opponents.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), Phillips’ story wasn’t true.
First things first: Trump meant to type “coverage” — it’s pretty clear based on the context of the rest of the sentence. The reason Twitter lit up for more than 24 hours was not because people genuinely didn’t understand what Trump was trying to say; rather, they were ridiculing him for:
1) Making the typo;
2) Actually tweeting the typo, and;
3) Leaving the typo up for more than an hour.
It was dumb, and Trump was roundly mocked for it, but honestly, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t even rate in the top 100 dumbest things Trump has done in…hell, in the past year alone. You would think this would be obvious to any observer, regardless of their political leanings. And in a normal universe, Trump supporters would laugh it off and go on with their lives, and the internet – as it always does – would eventually move on.
It was reported yesterday that Fox News host Sean Hannity is taking an unexpected vacation amidst mounting backlash from his advertisers for his embrace of the bizarre and moronic conspiracy theory surrounding the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. For those unfamiliar with the case, Rich was murdered in an apparent botched robbery last July; the internet, of course, wasn’t satisfied with the official explanation for his death. And since Seth Rich was a DNC staffer, conspiracy theorists — with their Rain Man-esque compulsion to make everything, no matter how small, fit into a larger and more sinister picture — decided his death was no mere coincidence.
I recently came across an article by Katy Waldman on Slate titled “Against Retweeting Trump’s Old Tweets.” In it, Waldman makes a case that the popular practice of retweeting Donald Trump’s old tweets whenever his current actions contradict his previously-stated positions is, in fact, a Bad Thing To Do. The title alone was enough to spark my annoyance: someone deemed it worthwhile to sit down and compose a 1,200-word finger-wag about the perils of holding the President accountable for his past comments, as though this practice — which consists of finding an old Trump tweet and tapping twice on your phone in the hope that an internet stranger will find it humorous enough to like it, retweet it, or (dare to dream) follow you — will doom our society and therefore must be contained.