Donald Trump’s reelection campaign launch this week was a textbook example of manufacturing an alternate reality, with an assist from his partner in propaganda, Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing rag the New York Post. Trump says coronavirus comeback underway: People are ‘starting to feel good’:
President Trump invited The Post into the Oval Office on Monday for an hour-long interview during which he declared “there’s a great optimism” in America and predicted a strong economic rebound from the coronavirus crisis during the fourth quarter of 2020.
Trump said he believes a national comeback from the coronavirus pandemic is underway and that Americans are beginning to “feel good.”
“I think they’re starting to feel good now. The country’s opening again. We saved millions of lives, I think,” said Trump, sitting behind the Resolute desk with a long list of accomplishments by his administration printed out in front of him.
The president predicted that the steep economic downturn will end soon as states allow businesses to reopen[.]
* * *
The president also foresaw a dramatic rise in economic indicators by the end of year.
“We’ll open it up and I think your fourth quarter is going to be very good,” he said.
“We did the right thing and now we’re bringing the country back. And I think there’s a great optimism. I don’t know if you see it, but I think there’s a great optimism now.”
Trump said he was optimistic that steps taken by his administration will tamp down COVID-19.
“Hopefully we can keep the plague, keep the virus at bay. If we have a flare up, we can put it out. We’ve learned a lot.”
Wait for it ….
“Now, the one thing that the pandemic has taught us is that I was right,” Trump said. “You know, I had people say, ‘No, no, it’s good. You keep — you do this and that.’ Now those people are really agreeing with me. And that includes medicine and other things, you know.”
If you are asking yourself, “WTF is this fool talking about?,” you are not alone. But this is actually the new strategy of the Trump reelection campaign, that his handling of the coronavirus pandemic was “perfect” (his favorite adjective), and that the U.S. economic future is so bright, you’re going to have to wear shades.
(On Friday, the Department of Labor will announce unemployment figures for April not seen since the Great Depression).
The Trump campaign is branding this alternative reality as an “American Comeback” — presumably Trump is going to rescue us from his own criminal negligence and gross incompetence in handling the coronavirus pandemic in order to be able to call this a “comeback” at some unspecified point in the future.
The Trump campaign ad for “American Comeback” is classic Russian dezinformatsiya propaganda, altering news video to the point of bordering on deepfake. The Trump campaign has always relied upon Russian dezinformatsiya propaganda. Trump’s Reelection Campaign Launches Ad Calling His Coronavirus Response an “American Comeback”:
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has launched an ad campaign calling his response to the coronavirus pandemic an “American comeback.”
The ad characterizes the president’s ban on travel from China as effective at mitigating the spread of the coronavirus even though it’s currently killed nearly
69,000 73,000 Americans. It also includes footage of Trump praising “the greatest economy the world has ever seen” despite record numbers of unemployed people as the pandemic prompted businesses to shutter.[Private payrolls shed 20.2 million jobs in April, the worst drop in history].
“Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States is writing the greatest comeback story in history,” Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “The President, along with the unyielding resolve of the American people, will Make America Great Again.”
A senior campaign official said the ad campaign is meant to provide an “inspirational message about the unyielding resolve of Americans.”
“Yes, we had a strong economic message prior to coronavirus and the economy being artificially interrupted, but that was one of the many accomplishments we could point to with President Trump,” the campaign source told MarketWatch.
Matt Lewis comments at The Daily Beast, Team Trump Says He Alone Stopped the Pandemic—You Know, the One That’s Still Raging:
Don’t look now, but Donald Trump is casting himself as the hero of the pandemic. That’s right, not only is he not culpable for mishandling the deadly virus; he’s the comeback kid. At least, that’s what you’ll believe after seeing this very good ad created by the Trump campaign.
I beg to differ about the production quality of this ad. It does not compare to the far more compelling ad from The Lincoln Project, “Mourning in America.”
In politics, there’s a saying that you should “hang a lantern” on your problem. Instead of pretending your mess doesn’t exist, turn that lemon into lemonade. Trump takes this rebranding advice to another level, squeezing his many lemons into a cure-all called TrumpAde©️. [With a shot of bleach and Lysol].
What is clear is that Team Trump realizes the message they hoped to run on (a great economy) will no longer fly, and they have found a plausible new story to tell. It’s unclear whether it will work, but you would be hard-pressed to find a more flattering way of casting Trump’s predicament.
Mr. Lewis is a little too enamored with the production value of this video with the rest of his analysis. In fact, he comes across as a bit of a gushing fanboy.
He fails to mention, however, the editing of news video to the point of bordering on deepfake. CNN took notice. Hunter at Daily Kos writes, CNN sends Trump campaign cease and desist demand after campaign dishonestly edits network footage:
Donald Trump and his campaign have been ramping up the lawsuits against the press these last few months because Donald Trump is an authoritarian-minded narcissistic idiot contemptuous of the very notion that somebody out there in the great wide world might dare to make him sad by reporting his own bumbling incompetence.
Now CNN’s parent company is returning the favor with legal action of their own: a cease and desist demand to Trump’s ever-crooked reelection campaign after the campaign spliced together James O’Keefe propaganda-style CNN footage to make it look like the network’s host were praising the idiot manchild.
As reported by CNN itself, the footage used is of host Wolf Blitzer asking commentator Dr. Sanjay Gupta whether “it is accurate” to say that without the “stay-at-home orders, the social distancing orders” that the United States could be facing two million deaths in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because Donald Trump is an idiot crook who only hires other idiot crooks, the campaign spliced that in its ad footage to cut out the “stay at home” and “social distancing orders” part, instead putting up footage promoting Trump’s much-vaunted “travel ban” between the U.S. and China to mask the erased portion of Blitzer’s question. The ad therefore implies that Blitzer and Gupta were claiming that Trump’s weak restrictions on Chinese travel were saving “two million” people, which is garbage-based lying propaganda of the sort that the United States would have sanctioned foreign governments for back when the Republican Party was not made up entirely of Nazis.
CNN is demanding the ad be withdrawn for brazenly lying about the content of their own network. The campaign is responding by burping out some nonsense from some campaign crapweasel defending the edits based on Screw You, That’s Why.
The Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler explains The Trump campaign’s egregious editing of a CNN clip (excerpt):
[T]his Trump ad, “American Comeback,” is unusual because CNN has written a cease-and-desist letter to President Trump’s reelection campaign, saying that remarks of two of its stars have been edited to give a false impression. The network said it would refuse to air the ad. The campaign rejected the complaint, saying the ad was “demonstrably accurate.”
That’s wrong. This is yet another clear example of how campaign ad-makers twist quotes and images to leave a false impression. The ad suggests Trump’s move to restrict travel by non-U.S. citizens from China is a key factor in the United States avoiding as many as 2 million deaths during the coronavirus outbreak.
Under the Fact Checker’s standards for manipulated video, we have three broad categories: Some video is taken out of context, other content is deceptively edited; in the worst instances, it is deliberately altered [i.e., deepfake]. This ad clearly qualifies as deceptive editing.
Kessler then goes through this deceptive ad with a point by point analysis. His conclusion:
The Pinocchio Test
Campaigns must be willing to make their case without resorting to video manipulation. The editing of the CNN interview is so deceptive — complete with images to suggest Blitzer and Gupta were discussing restrictions on travel from China — that it is little wonder CNN filed a complaint. The Trump campaign is quick to cry foul when the Biden team makes misleading edits, but this is especially dismaying. Some of the other edits in the video are not in the same league but leave out useful or interesting context.
Given the seriousness of the editing offense involving the CNN clip, we award this ad Four Pinocchios.
In 2016, Trump used the language of authoritarian demagogues to promise “only I can save you” from what he portrayed as a hellscape of “American carnage.” In 2020, he desperately wants to portray himself as a savior, even a demigod, despite being responsible for making “American carnage” a reality. In order to do this, he has to convince Americans that reality is not real, that the fictional alternate reality his campaign is manufacturing is “real.” Don’t be fooled by his lies, disinformation and deception.