So yesterday, the internet erupted with claims that Donald Trump had threatened to invade Mexico and had a testy phone call with the Prime Minister of Australia. I tweeted a little bit about but was a bit skeptical. But I did keep my policy on blogging about Trump-related news, which is this:
I will not blog about anything bad Trump supposedly does until it is confirmed, either by audio, video or in writing. I do this for my own sanity, if not for the sake of the debate.
To give you an example, I tweeted and blogged very quickly about last weekend’s airport debacle because it was obviously real. People were being detained and sent back, an EO had gone out, Whitehouse spokesmen had gone on record that it applied to green card holders. But I didn’t blog about rumors about an anti-LGBT EO that was supposedly on the way because it was all anonymous sourcing.
Now it turns out that the Australia phone call was a bit overblown. Trump is upset about the deal to send 1250 refugees here. But we have no idea how often world leaders get into these sort of tiffs and the Australian PM downplayed it. Trump took to Twitter to complain and it does appear he lashed out at the PM in some fashion. So it’s a bit concerning, but not exactly the start of a war. Meanwhile, Mexican and US authorities have denied that the phone call was confrontational and the transcript indicates that his “threat” to send troops down there was more of light-hearted joke and both sides saw it as such.
This is becoming a very big problem in the Trump Era. Things have moved very fast for the last two weeks. And, unfortunately, there has developed a tendency for the entire internet to jump at shadows. Garbage stories flourish with thousands of retweets and posts. The corrections are buried. The opposition is losing their damned minds, freaking out over everything Trump supposedly does only to find out later that at least half of it was fake news.
There are now dozens of Twitter accounts claiming to be “rogue” accounts inside NASA, the Parks Service and even the White House itself. There is zero evidence that these accounts are anything but trolls. In fact, one Tweeter contends that the spelling and diction indicate they are being run out of Russia (and Trump thought Putin was his friend). And yet these unsourced unreliable accounts have thousands of followers and every time they tweet something that confirms liberal biases, they get tens of thousands of retweets. Anonymous sourcing is taken as gospel. Rumors become headline news. It’s insane. It’s exhausting. It’s so discrediting that many people think it’s Trump’s team doing it to make the media look unreliable.
I realize that Trump scares a lot of people (including me). But if you turn the volume up to 11 on every whisper of malfeasance, you will exhaust yourself and everyone else. People who support Trump or are in the middle or are not political junkies will tune out. It’s not like there’s a shortage of real stuff to get mad about.
During the Obama years, I cautioned against screaming over everything he did. The same goes double for Trump. Focus on the bad stuff that’s real, not rumors. Support him when he does something right. Don’t burn your energy up and exhaust the nation chasing phantoms.