Donald Trump, memes, and the dangers of post-factual politics

trump memeIn 1998, Donald Trump told People Magazine “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country.”

That’s the meme, accompanied by the graphic at right. Rosemary Olsen posted it on Facebook and said “I fact checked this. It’s true.” 14,901 people shared it.

And it’s completely false.

It sounds like something Trump would say. The picture is from a 1998 interview on Oprah. But while Fox News existed in 1998, it wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. And while People Magazine did plenty of Trump profiles, they never talked to him about running for president.

My readers, since they are more intelligent than all those dummies on the Internet, know enough not to believe what they read in memes. Except that several of my Facebook friends reposted this. (Tom Cunniff smartly identified it as a pitch perfect piece of propaganda.)

What does this tell us? It tells us the danger of lies.

Donald Trump appears to be sincere, more than any other candidate. His batshit candor guarantees coverage. His also spreads more fervent falsehoods than any other candidate.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@jbernoff”]Donald Trump is the archetypal leader for the post-factual era of politics.[/tweetthis]

There is danger for America in this attitude — leaders with a casual relationship with truth must not lead our country. But there is also danger for Trump himself. Because now any mischief-maker can attribute any statement to him, no matter how outrageous, and it seems plausible. Live by the lie, die by the lie.

We live in a share-without-reading world. The distinction between trustworthy media and made-up bullshit is eroding. Changes in media, including partisan outlets like Fox News and unedited blog collections like Forbes‘, contribute to that decline.

We want to believe the best of our friends, and the worst about our enemies. Our slanted Facebook feeds show us what we want to see. This reinforces our biases and shields us from critical thinking.

Truth takes work. It takes work to create it — that’s what this blog is about. And it takes work for readers to identify it and separate it from lies.

Do the work. Not just for yourself. Do the work to reveal who’s lying, so we don’t all end up living in an era of politics that leaves facts behind.

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  1. Journalism has come full circle, all the way back to the campaign of Jefferson vs. Adams. Newspapers existed solely to espouse one point of view. The era of media as ‘watchdog’ came along much later, and now it is long gone.

    1. I just want to see the full interview again, when Oprah asked the well known Democratic Trump in 1988.
      I saw this before it vanished even saved a copy both are now missing. To have the power of a billionaire.
      When a transcript goes Missing I say something is fishy.
      ” If you were to run would you run as a Democrat or Republican?”
      Guess Mr Trump didn’t want American’s to hear his answer. If I were running as president I would do antthibg make a stupid comment I made on 4/25/1988 go away too. I wouldn’t want the party I switched too to know what I thought of them when I was a Democrat.
      What else is he hiding?
      To be the fly on the wall to the 1%.
      I just wanna know if the mob styled the entire room of that Oprah taping or paid them a nice chunk of hush hush money with a non disclosure.

      1. I saw him saw it. I don’t know who he was talking to. At the time I figured there was no way he’d be nominated and didn’t pay much attention to the who and where. Since then I have found a link that mentions it in the title. But I can’t find the video. I am not sure it was on Oprah. He seemed older. Maybe the 90s. I also thought it was one on one. Maybe Stone Phillips (Dec-97). I can’t find that interview. It was just after Princess Di died. Anyway, check out this link.

        1. If we can not find the interview is becsuse they erased. Their action confirmed this is true. Just common sense.

        2. I don’t think you are crazy. I remember seeing this on television. He was doing an interview and I vividly recall what he said . What I cannot recall is if it was an interview with Oprah or someone else. I never thought he would ever run. I was dating someone who was into talk shows and politics at the time and we were watching together. It would have been around 1998 at the time this occurred. Just because they have made it disappear, does not mean those of us who can recall it are crazy or not telling the truth. There was also some discussion about his marriage and breakup with Ivana Trump during the same interview.

          1. It was definitely on Oprah and it was during the interview that’s widely available from 1988. Don’t know if he still does but Donald Jr. used to (ironically?) have the edited interview pinned to his Twitter page. It’s my belief that the 1998 timeline used in numerous articles about how the quote was from People Magazine, “never happened,” included something about FOX News, and was from 1998 was meant to confuse people who saw it. Apparently that has largely worked in that even Snopes claims he never said it. That 1988 Oprah interview currently available online has been cut to remove the segment when he said he’d run as a Republican because they’re the dumbest group of voters. My boyfriend showed me that video when Trump was considering running (we both never thought he’d be nominated) and we talked about the fact that his statement would off-put Republicans but my boyfriend thought it wouldn’t matter since everyone knew Trump was previously a long-standing New York Democrat. People can continue to say he never said it or muddy the waters by attributing it to interviews that it *wasn’t* from 10 years after the fact but those of us who watched it know better. It goes to show the power of money to gaslight the world and it’s pretty creepy.

        1. No, it is not this one. Do you think thst he is going to allow us to watch that video? Are you crazy?
          I understand why he believes that his voters are dumb

          1. Okay. Then who did the interview with Trump? I can research the information that you send me and find the interview. Please. I want Trump to go as much as anyone else.

  2. While the internet exacerbates, this phenomenon is not new:

    “Straightway throughout the […] cities flies rumor–the report of evil things than which nothing is swifter; it flourishes by its very activity and gains new strength by its movements; small at first through fear, it soon raises itself aloft and sweeps onward along the earth. Yet its head reaches the clouds. . . . A huge and horrid monster covered with many feathers: and for every plume a sharp eye, for every pinion a biting tongue. Everywhere its voices sound, to everything its ears are open”

    –Virgil, The Aeneid Book IV, lines 173 et c.

  3. I actually saw the video interview when Trump said, in his own words, that if he ran for President, he would run as a Republican because “Republican voters are stupid” and easily lied to. It was on MSNBC (The Rachel Maddow Show, I think) within the last month or so.

        1. I saw it too it’s gone. He is a billionaire I think he has the resources to make a bad comment go away. I did my research on the new Hitler way before you.
          Then tell me why you can no longer see the full interview? Or read the full transcript which was available before he won the GOP?

          1. I’m not sure either was sure I’d seen it somewhere and now all I get are it never was true and can’t find anything else otherwise

      1. In all honesty I did see the video and when he decided to run I laughed and instantly recalled the interview but as soon as some friends and I discussed the subject we couldn’t find it. You just don’t forget that kind of arrogance when you hear and see it.

      1. I have the link to the now deleted full interview. How are so many people all over the USA saying they saw it. Russia has some of the best hackers and oh yeah they are friends.
        The code to the links that still work show and prove they have been edited. To remove, now Donald if you were to run would you run as a Republican or Democrat? He was a dem in the 80s.
        Explain that. It will surface again after 12/19or 1/20 after we voted Steven Baron and his people in.
        I will say this Trump knows how to sell himself. He knew he wouldn’t win as a Democrat.
        Don’t prick your finger while sewing on your new i.d. badge, well soon be receiving.
        Oh just like the interview of his ex that is now missing, when she told whatever magazine he idolizes Hitler and kept a book of his speech’s on the night stand.

        1. Is there any trace of that portion of the interview available anywhere? The American people have been gaslighted and even snopes claims that Trump never said what he did about Republicans, probably because the edited version is the only one anyone can find now. Yet so many of us saw the video in its entirety before it was scrubbed from the internet. I had a conversation about it with my boyfriend after we watched it. It’s pretty amazing how people can be convinced they didn’t see something that they did.

      1. Rachel Maddow!, oh I missed that one. The Queen of disinformation. She looks allot like Ellen’s sister.

          1. The problem with spell check is that real words like “allot” (which means to apportion out shares of something) that sound like or are spelled like what is really correct will often slip through, or even get autofilled when the writer actually typed the correctly spelled word. It happens “allot”. The tricky thing is remembering to proofread what you write before hitting “send”. This from the voice of experience, haha!

            Love the article.

    1. I saw the video also. It was from the 1998 Oprah interview. It was very easy to pull up last year on YouTube. Can’t find it now & only reports that it’s false.

      1. I saw this a long time ago. It was Oprah Winfrey. It has been taken out of clips. It was not in ‘OK’ magazine.

  4. The only ‘fact’ to disprove this is, “But while Fox News existed in 1998, it wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. And while People Magazine did plenty of Trump profiles, they never talked to him about running for president”

    So because Fox was not as popular before this quote should not be taken seriously? Did the Republicans exist because he threw them under the bus as well.

      1. But what if people really WANT it to be real? Then it’s okay, right?

        (the astounding thing for me is that I would have figured you’d have been blasted by now for being in the tea party.)

      2. I saw him say it. I saw the discredited meme later. I searched for the video for days. No luck. He may have said it to Stone Phillips. A few months after Lady Diana was killed. He spoke of how he could of had her. The interview was from late 1997. It’s nowhere to be found.
        If you don’t think a video can be scrubbed, find the video from Larry King Live where Donnie Osmond rips Larry for a question he asked Marie. You can find the show, but the part where Donnie Osmond loses his temper has been edited out.

      3. Josh, I am an English historian, I saw the original interview. Remembered it when trump was running for President, found the clip om YouTube and then as he started his crazy lies etc. Tried to find it again and it had been removed. Money and threats likely to have been involved. He did say that he would stand as a republican because they are so dumb…….etc. You have my word. Surely the television people will still have a copy and I would Imagine Oprah still remembers it.

    1. No, it shouldn’t be taken seriously because it never happened. But Trump has plenty of garbage coming out of his mouth that is on tape and on record so we don’t need the lies on this meme. We don’t need to sink to this.

      1. So true. On the mini series “the Men Who Made America ” , Trump does go on to say that the wealthy love a good recession, it makes their money go further. Look that one up.

    2. I see…so how does one “prove that they never said something”? Should the author repost every word he said in print in 1998 in order to prove it?

      Sorry but the burden of proof is on those who make the claim….and its really easy to do; show us the “Time magazine article” where he says this.

      Learn critical thinking…

      1. There is no proof he said this. There is no People Magazine story about him considering politics. It makes no sense because Republicans didn’t all watch Fox News in 1988. So there is no evidence he said this and lots of evidence that it’s fabricated.

  5. I agree but from the late 60’s on, my conservative friends have used the tactic of the false narrative etc. to spread their propaganda which increased 100 fold with the advent of email. I hate to say fight fire with fire but a lie will be half way around the world before the truth can tie it’s shoes.

      1. Speaking of which, ‘His also spreads more fervent falsehoods than any other candidate.’ I agree with most of your article, minus that one point. No one holds a candle to Clinton when it comes to lies.

  6. I’m not saying whether or not he ever said it. I’m just saying, people are saying it. There’s a lot of talk. I mean, he’s a good guy, but many people are angry, and we still need to figure out whether this is true or not.

  7. This claimed comment by Trump is false. I did a search and it doesn’t appear on the Peoples website. You sure you got your facts right? Trump ain’t no saint but you may have jumped the shark on this one.

  8. Glen Beck referanced to a great movie excepts about this:

    I want to play something from Spencer Tracy — in a movie called State of the Union — where a guy, Spencer Tracy, is running for president. And he gets caught up in running for president, gets caught up with all of the wrong people from the establishment in the Republican Party.

    Source: http://www.glennbeck.com/2016/02/23/the-sad-evolution-of-marco-rubio/?utm_source=glennbeck&utm_medium=contentcopy_link

    Scroll down to listen to the audio except at about the 4 minuet mark.

  9. We don’t have to go back to 1998. He recently said that even if he killed someone in the middle of 5th avenue, he will not lose a single vote. What he was implying was that his followers don’t have any reasoning ability and that they will follow him even if he is wrong. To me that amounts to calling them dumb. He blamed Jeb Bush for what his brother did. He blamed Hillary for what her husband did. He has practically blamed every one in the race for faults of someone else. However he has not blamed himself for failing in business and having filed four bankruptcies in order to be bailed out. He was in charge of those companies that filed bankruptcies, not once, not twice but four different times. Shouldn’t he be held responsible, being the man in charge. But his followers have refused to ask those questions. Doesn’t it imply that they are dumb.

    1. Yes, it was a dumb statement by him. He was implying by political rhetoric that he had such strong support.

      But he had 4 bankruptcies out of over a hundred successful ones. Many people have gone through some bankruptcies is a part of doing business.

      There is much media hype about Trump as covered here:


      Untruths about Trump.

  10. If anyone wanted to prove this as false they would have to round up all issues of People Magazine from 1998 and print every page online…so…why does anyone have the authority to give an opinion? This is stupid.

      1. Contrary to popular belief, Google does not know everything. Many things exist even though they’re not searchable online. Google does make a habit of collecting massive amounts of data, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gotten everything yet. It will probably be decades, if ever, before they accomplish that feat. And Google allows people/companies to pay to jump up the list of results. They also post them in order of relevance to the people doing the searching. The most truthful, accurate link is rarely at the top of your search results. The only way to either prove or disprove this accusation would be to collect every People Magazine and read each article that features Trump. Having heard him talk, I’m willing to believe he at least thought it. I have voted Republican most of my life, however, I formed my dislike of Trump decades ago. Nothing has changed. I still dislike the man; what he says, what he does. It would be nice if McCain would run again… but pick a decent running mate, him I actually like.

  11. This is very sad to see this being stated as not true. It is true. I have seen the interview. He said on the Oprah show directly to Oprah when she specifically ask him if he would run. I watched it out of my own eyes.

  12. I saw this video and now it is gone! Fox news was just coming out in 1987 or before, because that’s when I moved from Nebraska. So the date is accurate. It was channel 42 and their theme song played during commercials was Thank you for being a friend. I’m not sure who was interviewing Trump but I did clearly see him say this and magically it has disappeared like his wife’s bio on her website! Why is noone surprised??

  13. It isn’t like this meme is new, I first saw it in 2009. The context of the meme is framed in and the assumptions behind it(Oprah vs People, 1988 vs 1998 or some combination if both), didn’t happen, doesn’t necessarily mean the quote itself, was never stated.

  14. QUOTE: “What does this tell us? It tells us the danger of lies.

    Donald Trump appears to be sincere, more than any other candidate. His batshit candor guarantees coverage. His also spreads more fervent falsehoods than any other candidate.

    There is danger for America in this attitude — leaders with a casual relationship with truth must not lead our country. But there is also danger for Trump himself. Because now any mischief-maker can attribute any statement to him, no matter how outrageous, and it seems plausible. Live by the lie, die by the lie.”

    WHAT IS IRONY? When some super stupid people prove a fake meme right….While talking about the dangers of lies, in support of the biggest liar on the planet, with a confirmed record of over 15,000 lies in under 1,000 days.

    How’s that for IRONY?! LOL

    The meme might have been fake, but the message was the truth…and very real. lol

  15. I saw the interview, it wasn’t Oprah though, it was a man who interviewed him. You can find mention of it in many blogs, the identical phrase. It’s been scrubbed from the internet, it disappeared right after he announced his candidacy. He said exactly the phrase in the meme. Don’t underestimate the power of the wealthy.