From Wikipedia: Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual. Independent Counsel Robert Mueller may be using the liberal media to goad (gaslight) Trump into firing him.
It is pretty clear that it would be perilous for President Trump to fire Robert Mueller. The political cost is estimated by pundits to be somewhere between politically damaging to utterly fatal (the beginning of the end) for the Trump presidency.
It looks as though Mueller is attempting to goad the president into firing him and/or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He has targeted leaks to the Trump-hostile New York Times and Washington Post leading to inflammatory false stories. He has used the thuggishly aggressive prosecutorial tactic of pre dawn FBI raids on Paul Manifort as if he was a big time criminal ready to destroy evidence if given any warning. And most outrageously he used the FBI to raid Trump’s personal attorney.
Relying on Trump’s well known temper and reputation for impetuous action he is gaslighting the president hoping to goad him into the precipitate action of firing him.
Mueller Near-Firing Shows Facebook Fake News Is Nothing Next To Media’s Fake News
The consequences of ‘fake news’ from trusted media outlets can be astonishingly severe, as evidenced by a report that Trump nearly fired Bob Mueller over an erroneous story.
From The Federalist: By Rachel Stoltzfoos, 04/11/18
While there’s still no evidence the fake news we’ve been warned about since 2016 swung a single vote or even had any meaningful effects (apart from excusing Hillary’s loss), the potentially massive impact of false reports from trusted media outlets became apparent again this week.
The New York Times reports President Trump nearly fired Robert Mueller in December over a report from Bloomberg News that the special counsel had subpoenaed his and his family’s bank records. Mueller had “zeroed in” on the Trump family, according to the single and anonymously sourced Bloomberg report, which was picked up by The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and other trusted outlets. The next day all of them had to correct their stories when the president’s lawyer revealed no such subpoena had been received by anyone in the Trump family.
The false story was especially impactful, because Trump had previously told The New York Times Mueller would be crossing a red line if he expanded his investigation beyond Russia into the Trump family’s personal finances. He was so furious over the reports that he initially told his advisers “in no uncertain terms” the Mueller investigation must be shut down, according to The New York Times. But his lawyers and advisers quickly found out the reports weren’t true, so Trump backed down.
The New York Times zeroes in on how Trump’s reaction to the reports could damage him politically: “Mr. Trump’s quick conclusion that the erroneous news reports warranted firing Mr. Mueller is also an insight into Mr. Trump’s state of mind about the special counsel. Despite assurances from leading Republicans … that the president has not thought about firing Mr. Mueller, the December episode was the second time Mr. Trump is now known to have considered taking that step.”
That’s fine. But there’s a much bigger story here about the potentially devastating effects of false reports published by trusted media outlets. That includes their power to manipulate the public, and in this case even the president, into serving their political ends.
Let’s go back to Trump’s red line in the Mueller investigation. He didn’t make it on his own. He was prompted by a New York Times reporter. Here’s the relevant bit of the July interview:
- Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, ‘I would say yes.’ He would not say what he would do about it. ‘I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.’
Fast-forward to December, when someone close to Mueller talked to Bloomberg about the subpoena for Deutsche Bank records. It’s entirely possible this source intentionally twisted the facts with those red line comments in mind, to manipulate the press into reporting something that might make Trump do or say something foolish. Or maybe the source was just ill-informed. Either way, several major news outlets broke what used to be standard journalism protocol and chose to run a huge story about the president based on one anonymous source, who turned out to be unreliable. As a result, Trump nearly fired Mueller, which could get him impeached.
Trump is responsible for whatever foolishness or recklessness he displays, but that doesn’t negate the power of the press on display here. While false and erroneous reports have piled up at an astonishing rate in the past year or so, none have so clearly demonstrated as this tidbit on Trump and Mueller what can happen when trusted outlets get the facts wrong.
Regardless of whether this kind of mainstream “fake news” results from bias, recklessness, or even just an honest mistake, the public consequences can be astonishingly severe. By comparison, the fake news on Facebook that Democrats and their allies in the press have been warning about since the 2016 election looks completely harmless.
Okay, so a kid in Macedonia wrote a goofy post that your aunt liked on Facebook. Common sense is all we need to deduce that it almost certainly didn’t change her vote. It’s also fairly obvious that Facebook feeds tend to reinforce existing views and biases. Sure, it’s concerning that people spread false information, but there is simply no reason to believe this kind of fake news had any real effects on the 2016 election or even our national discourse.