Donald Trump is a liar. Actually, that's an understatement. Trump is, in reality, a pathological, serial liar of a magnitude that's mathematically inexpressible. He lies from minute to minute without an ounce of shame or compunction, often about subjects and incidents that are well-documented and can be recalled at a moment's notice and held up to the light. It's so easy to disprove a faulty Donald Trump statement that it can really only be a personality disorder that would lead Trump to believe he can get away with such a relentless belching of utter bullshit. The problem is, his lies come in such overwhelming waves -- they're so audacious that it's literally stunning -- that it's difficult for the news outlets theoretically tasked with correcting the record to keep up. Trump lies and then lies about the lie, then doubles-down on the lie, over and over again, to the point where calling him on it almost feels like a waste. Because to Trump, there is no truth other than what he says at any given minute and reality is something that can be disputed to death just like in any other negotiation.
But the political press's sole reason for existence, again theoretically, is to hold our leaders and would-be leaders accountable. So how to do that when Trump's nothing but an incoherent ramble of lies and nonsense? Well, given that it's standard operating procedure to sometimes air candidates' campaign speeches live, particularly when they become party nominees, it's tough to do a running correction on every bit of crap that exits the puckered asshole in the middle of Trump's big orange head. But today, to their infinite credit, CNN got creative. Instead of simply allowing Trump to lie on their air and regurgitating his rhetoric via the lower-third chyron banner at the bottom of the screen, they used that chyron to drop a minor truth bomb on the audience in real time. Doing so allowed them to correct a whopper of a Trump lie without even breaking a stride in their coverage. It was clever -- and while in the grand scheme of things it feels like giving a news outlet credit for honoring the bare minimum of its responsibility, it was kind of glorious.
At issue was a Trump claim that he never said Japan should handle its own defense and have nuclear weapons available to use against North Korea if necessary. During a campaign rally today in Sacramento, he strongly denied making such a statement. In fact, he balked at Hillary Clinton's accusation that he had said Japan should create its own nuclear arsenal, saying, "Give me a break!" Not surprisingly, though, he was entirely full of shit. Because of course he said Japan should have nukes, in an interview literally just two months ago. So, rather than allow Trump to get away with it, CNN's chyron below the image of Trump speaking live read, "TRUMP: I NEVER SAID JAPAN SHOULD HAVE NUKES (HE DID)." All it took was a parenthetical correction, that minor reality check, and Trump's garbage was debunked. The lower-third banner remained up for some time and was brought back a short time later during the discussion of just how horrifically Trump was dodging the truth. CNN actually played the interview back to show, captured on video for all posterity, that Trump had indeed said that Japan should arm itself with nuclear weapons. Chris Wallace, during the initial interview asked Trump to clarify that he was talking about nukes and Trump -- because he's a dangerous foreign policy know-nothing -- said, "Yes, including with nukes."
It's worth mentioning, by the way, that Trump also doubled-down on that statement in an interview with CNN's own Anderson Cooper. So he had said publicly, twice, that Japan should begin a nuclear weapons program and yet denied it live in front of a Sacramento audience and the entire world. The Sacramento folks unfortunately didn't get the instant correction, but everybody else sure did.
What CNN did was a wonderfully effective way to thwart Trump's bullshit and one would hope the network continues to take this stance against the mendacity onslaught from Camp Trump in the coming months. Given that Trump has declared war on the press and his rogue's gallery of surrogates have called out CNN specifically, the network has nothing to lose by doing its job. And its job includes calling Trump's "misstatements" what they are and doing it unrelentingly. It may be impossible to get through to the people inside the Fox News bubble for whom that network now represents a kind of state-run news outlet for Trump, but they're not the ones who need to be convinced just how dangerous Trump is and would be for us all. It's everyone else. Everyone, all the time, until hopefully this threat to the United States is relegated to the most embarrassing moments in our nation's history.