Thursday, August 18, 2016

In which Gingrich sums up his whole career

Via Brendan Nyhan, I happened on a July 22 CNN interview with Newt Gingrich in which that Trump precursor was astonishingly open about his theory of fact.

The interviewer was Alyson Camerota, and the subject was Trump's convention speech. Here's a transcript (my emphasis). Video clip at bottom.
CAMEROTA: Some people think it was too bleak. That he painted too bleak a picture of where we are in America. Crime is down in America. Violent crime is down. The economy is picking up --

GINGRICH: It is not down in the biggest cities.

[08:35:01] CAMEROTA: Violent crime, murder rate is down. It is down.

GINGRICH: Then how come it's up in Chicago, up in Baltimore, and up in --

CAMEROTA: There are pockets where certainly we --

GINGRICH: Your national capital, your third biggest city --

CAMEROTA: But violent crime across the country is down. We're not under siege in the way that we were in say, the 80s.

GINGRICH: The average American, looking at Dallas policemen -- and look at the states he listed. The Average American, I will bet you this morning, does not think crime is down, does not think they are safer.

CAMEROTA: But we are safer, and it is down.

GINGRICH: No, that's your view.

CAMEROTA: It's a fact.

GINGRICH: I just -- no. But what I said is also a fact. The average American feels -- when you can walk into a nightclub and get killed, when you can go to a party in a county government building and get killed, people don't think that their government is protecting them. When you have Baltimore, when you have policemen ambushed in Dallas -- your view, I understand your view. The current view is that liberals have a whole set of statistics which theoretically may be right, but it's not where human beings are. People are frightened. People feel that their government has abandoned them. 25 million Americans have dropped out of the middle class, according to Gallup.

CAMEROTA: Yes, well that's the economic figures that you're saying, though, unemployment has ticked down. But what you're saying is -- but hold on, Mr. Speaker, because you're saying liberals use these numbers, they use this sort of magic math. This is the FBI statistics. They're not a liberal organization.

GINGRICH: No, but what I said is equally true. People feel it. 

CAMEROTA: They feel it, yes, but the facts don't support it.

GINGRICH: As a political candidate, I'll go with how people feel and I'll let you go with the theoriticians.
Translation: we will broadcast misinformation to generate a feeling (fear) in the public.  When that feeling takes hold, we will continue to incite it with more misinformation. That's what politicians do.

Gingrich has been doing this his whole career, and he taught his fellow Republicans a host of techniques for doing it. I don't know if he's ever admitted that he doesn't care what the actual facts are, though.

The irony is, in 2015 violent crime did spike in 2015 after a long decline -- though the extent, durability and significance of the increase is not yet clear.  But Gingrich didn't try to make that case, didn't pivot from his spotlight on three cities. Instead he expressed a flat-out contempt for facts and flaunted a willingness to manipulate them.

Trump's contempt for truth and fact and rule of law and civil liberties is so obvious that he is inducing his surrogates to expose their own contempt for those things. In other words, he's bringing all our latent fascists and willing demagogues out of the woodwork. That could be a useful purgative if it doesn't kill us.

Here's the clip:

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