If you were anywhere near a media website or Twitter during planted Senator John McCain’s embarrassingly long apotheosis ceremony on Saturday, you doubtless came across an article or ten with headlines like the following:
Washington Mourned John McCain. President Trump Played Golf. – New York Times
Donald Trump Played Golf During John McCain’s Funeral – Newsweek
Trump Visits Golf Course as Washington Mourns McCain – CBS News
Donald Trump at Golf Club During John McCain Memorial – USA Today
If you saw any of these, or any of the literally dozens like them, congratulations: you’ve been gaslit.
Gaslighting is “a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.”
In short, gaslighting is an organized effort by the corporate press to make you believe what ain’t so, and to make you think you’re crazy for believing what is so.
Veterans of #Gamergate will doubtless remember the fateful day when no fewer than a dozen games “journalism” sites published articles claiming that “Gamers are dead.” It was, in fact, the catalyst that opened the eyes of millions of gamers to the fact that their hobby press a) hated them, and b) was colluding with each other. #Gamergate would never have taken the form it did without the press colluding with the express purpose of gaslighting gamers.
Followers of Qanon can hearken back just a few weeks to the day the international press did the same thing following a Trump rally where lots of “Q” paraphernalia was on display. Take a quick gander at the results for a Qanon news search and you’ll see all the telltale signs of collusion and gaslighting: you’re crazy for believing in this, this is very unpopular, all the cool kids know this is false. Dozens of articles, all the same talking points.
So what does that have to do with Trump’s Saturday golf outing? Quite a bit, actually, and it illustrates how gaslighting is designed to work in real time.
Now, it’s completely logical to note the fact that Trump was conspicuously not invited to McCain’s funeral*. So what else is a golf-loving man going to do on a beautiful Saturday but golf? It’s perfectly reasonable that he should hit the links while everyone else lies about what a great guy McCain was.
But that is far from the impression** that the headlines give. And it’s important to remember that gaslighting is *not* working in logic or fact, but in emotion. It is flashing images, not propositions. So what are those images saying?
- Donald Trump is isolated. Everyone who is someone is at A, while Trump is at B. He has no friends. And you’re a loser for supporting him.
- McCain was universally loved and Trump does not love him. Trump is a mean, petty person. And you’re a loser for supporting him.
- Trump doesn’t care about the business of state** and certainly not about the business of you. He only cares about his own pleasure. And you’re a loser for supporting him.
Not only did plenty of news outlets make exactly the same point in headlines, plenty of Democrats-cum-journalists made exactly the same point in tweets and speeches and commentary on the “news”.
If you’re looking for actual collusion, it’s hard to start with a better case than that one right here.
The bad news is, coordinated hits like this demonstrate just how ubiquitous the left’s hold over the press is. Even local Fox affiliates ran identical articles.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter a whit. If your average normie American*** cared what CNN thought, CNN would not consistently place below Nick at Night in the weekly TV rankings. The average American doesn’t read the New York Times or Newsweek or Time. He does not care what the Beautiful People say. In fact, to the extent he hears any of it, he is becoming more and more likely to dismiss it out of hand. Fake news is an inoculation against itself.
“Fake news” is a powerful meme. We should continually thank the Washington Post for inventing it.****
Gaslighting the American public is becoming harder and harder, which explains the renewed efforts of the press, as well as social media companies, to constrict the sources from which you can get information.
But they will never put the truthpaste back in the tube. They cannot recapture the trust they squandered in their pursuit of partisan gain.
And they certainly cannot hurt Trump by claiming Washington is united against him. That Trump stands alone against Washington is the very reason millions of Trump supporters are Trump supporters in the first place.
* McCain was as petty and vindictive in death as he was in life. Give him a medal for consistency, anyway.
** Which in this case is apparently bewailing the god McCain like a poor man’s Kim Jon Il.
*** It matters what normies think, because they are the people – not the partisans – who decide whether Trump or Hillary (or Biden, or Harris) will become president.
**** You remember the day when “Fake News” was rolled out, with articles and research in a dozen publications hitting the same talking points? Gaslighting.