The funny thing about Donald Trump's wiretap conspiracy theory is that, from the outset, everyone knew he was lying. The sitting president accused his predecessor of ordering an illegal surveillance operation, as part of a Watergate-like scheme, and nearly the entire political world quickly reached a consensus: these claims are clearly not rooted in reality.
As Trump's falsehoods go, these were hardly the most dramatic -- indeed, they're not even the most shocking lie he's told about Barack Obama -- and it didn't take long before the claims were discredited in bipartisan fashion. But there was something about this lie that gained traction in ways most of Trump's other lies don't. Apparently, when a sitting president makes demonstrably false claims about his predecessor committing a felony, many are inclined to believe there should be some kind of consequences for dishonesty at this level.
Making matters much worse, when FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday, confirming an investigation into the Trump campaign and further debunking Trump's wiretap conspiracy theory, the president used his official White House Twitter account to make a variety of related claims, each of which was plainly untrue
The same day, the White House tried to tell the public
that Trump's former campaign chairman and National Security Advisor were unimportant, peripheral figures.
And as a result, the bough is breaking. Discussions of the president's uncontrollable dishonesty are becoming more open, more explicit, less guarded, and more widespread. Take, for example, this new editorial
from the Wall Street Journal
, which argued that Trump's falsehoods "are eroding public trust, at home and abroad."
If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him? Would the rest of the world? We're not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods. [...]
Two months into his Presidency, Gallup has Mr. Trump's approval rating at 39%. No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn't show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he's a fake President.
In case this isn't widely known, let's note for the record that the Wall Street Journal
's editorial page is one of the most Republican-friendly pieces of real estate in all of national print media. When it calls out a GOP president's mendacity in such a direct way, it's emblematic of a change in perceptions about Trump's presidency. read more