Less than twelve hours after he accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president with the longest, angriest speech in recent political convention history, reality show star Donald Trump spent much of his morning press conference re-litigating his most ridiculous attacks on Republican rivals during the primary race.
Things were bad enough when Trump defended his ugly tweet about Heidi Cruz, wife of Sen. Ted Cruz, back in May. But they got even worse when he once again floated a conspiracy theory tying Cruz’s father Rafael to Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin who killed President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Trump right now is going back to Cruz's father and Lee Harvey Oswald. "Has anybody ever denied that was his father" with Oswald?
— Michael Isikoff (@Isikoff) July 22, 2016
Displaying no trace of self-awareness, Trump bizarrely defended the reputation of the National Enquirer, saying that the tabloid — which also tried to smear Cruz as an adulterer — deserves a Pulitzer Prize for journalism.
Really. He said that.
Mind you, all of this took place while Mike Pence stood in the background trying to project an air of gravitas.
We have a presidential nominee who thinks the National Enquirer should win a Pulitzer.
Let that sink in.https://t.co/lSUAfJS8X0
— Peter W. Singer (@peterwsinger) July 22, 2016
According to tweets by people observing the presser, Trump went on for a few minutes in this vein.
I’ve always said, why didn’t the National Enquirer get the Pulitzer Prize for [John] Edwards and O.J. Simpson and all of these things?
[…] I know nothing about [Cruz’s] father. I know nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald. But there was a picture on the front page of the National Enquirer, which does have credibility, and they’re not gonna do pictures like that, because they get sued for lots of money if things are wrong, okay?
Trump thinks that a supermarket tabloid whose name is synonymous with hype and sensationalism should be awarded the most prestigious medal in the world of writing because it sometimes gets a scandalous or salacious story right, and he assumes the Enquirer is right about Rafael Cruz because otherwise they would be sued.
Which is funny for him to say, because the National Enquirer has indeed been sued more than 75 times since 1986 for getting stories wrong.
That’s a lot. In fact, one of Trump’s speakers last night — tech billionaire Peter Thiel — has bankrolled a $10 million litigation campaign against Gawker.com, recruiting as many clients as possible and filing every kind of lawsuit imaginable against the media company, yet still produced a far smaller number of total court cases.
Then there’s the irony of Trump’s desire to change libel laws so that he can sue newspapers that say bad things about him. That’s not how ‘libel laws’ actually work, as the standards are largely set by courts and not legislatures. But just think how easily Rafael Cruz could sue Trump and the Enquirer for defamation under such a system, and you see what a Pandora’s box Trump would open.
But this is ultimately about Donald Trump and the post-factual politics of our time. When he says that the National Enquirer “has credibility,” he’s actually creating that credibility in the minds of people inclined to believe him. No one who cheered last night will be deterred by seeing this; instead, sales will probably go up.
Which is probably what Trump’s good friend David Pecker, owner of the National Enquirer, wanted to happen when he endorsed Trump weeks before the Cruz stories appeared in his paper. Imagine a presidency where Pecker’s is one of two publications with the most access to the Oval Office…and the other is Breitbart News.
— New American Media (@American_Media_) July 21, 2016
Featured image: screengrab.
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