Revisiting "Slander" - By Greer Clem
Well it's another Monday morning under the Trump presidency, which naturally means he tweeted something accusatory from his gilded toilet at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend. Seemingly unable to focus on the task at hand, which incidentally is the most important job in the free world, Trump once again pointed the finger of blame at Barack Obama. In a flurry of tweets, Trump tweeted, "How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!" Before I dive in, let me say that I did not make a typo, the President did...on a three letter word...on a public twitter account...as the President. But I digress. Firstly, I want to address Mr. Trump's insinuation that Barack Obama is a "sick" guy. Not only is Trump asserting that Barack Obama violated federal laws, but he is arguing he did so because of a mental disability. It would actually be a stronger argument to say that Obama did so at full mental capacity, but Mr. Trump instead once again demonstrates his penchant for the uneducated, insensitive point of view. Plenty of people battle mental health issues on a daily basis and hold positions of authority without letting their own personal challenges sway their decision-making. If, for argument's sake, Obama did tap Trump's phones, I take offense to the idea that it was because of a lapse in mental health.
Secondly, I want to address Kellyanne Conway's response to Mr. Trump's statements. On Fox News this morning, Conway argued that the President is fighting a double standard created by Democrats. She said, "You have Democrats every day saying 'investigate, investigate, special prosecutors, investigate.' Well then, what are they afraid of here? Let's investigate this and see where it leads." What Mrs. Conway fails to realize is that she is justifying slander rather than a call for the truth. To make a claim before the truth has been discovered is slander, because at the time of said statement, you are lying for the purpose of damaging someone's reputation. This is a pattern that both Conway and Sean Spicer repeat over and over - rather than call for the truth, they attempt to legitimize a lie. I believe this speaks to a larger truth both about the President and the administration. Conway argued that the media has a double standard when it comes to the President and the President argues that the media is lying. Here's where the two differ: the media is accountable to facts and sources and thus cannot report anything without verification. If something has not yet been proven, it is speculated. If it has, it is fact. Donald Trump prefers slander - he thinks he is above verification and that speculation is weak. In fact, speculation is a much nobler method of propaganda and much more strategic. I think Trump's Cabinet knows this all too well, but they continually are in a panic running around after the President trying to turn definitive statements into what-ifs. Trump continues to misunderstand that his word is not fact and that sometimes less is more. I believe this will be an important theme that will play out over the next few years and I don't think it is going to far to say that, if Trump is impeached, it will be on similar grounds. I'd be careful when making comparisons to Watergate, Mr. President- Trumpgate may be just around the corner, and neither Conway nor Spicer nor any other mouthpiece will be able to spin your slander into statements forever.