Trump vs. truth

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - FROM THE COVER -

The vit­riol and the dis­in­for­ma­tion in the at­tacks by Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and his spokes­peo­ple on CNN rep­re­sent an omi­nous sig­nal about the cred­i­bil­ity to ex­pect in the new ad­min­is­tra­tion. They sug­gest Team Trump will go to ab­surd lengths to try to dis­credit in­de­pen­dent re­port­ing.

In a tweet, at his Wed­nes­day news con­fer­ence and in fol­low-up in­ter­views, Trump and his sur­ro­gates ac­cused CNN of dis­sem­i­nat­ing “fake news” in re­port­ing that an in­tel­li­gence brief­ing for the pres­i­dent-elect in­cluded a two-page sum­mary of un­cor­rob­o­rated al­le­ga­tions that a cam­paign rep­re­sen­ta­tive had con­tact with Moscow and that the Rus­sians pos­sessed com­pro­mis­ing ev­i­dence against Trump.

The essence of CNN’s story has been sup­ported by mul­ti­ple rep­utable news or­ga­ni­za­tions, which have re­ported that FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey briefed Trump on the un­ver­i­fied claims. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den con­firmed that he and Pres­i­dent Obama also were alerted to the ex­is­tence of such ev­i­dence col­lected by a for­mer Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer.

“Your or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ter­ri­ble ... you are fake news,” Trump told CNN’s Jim Acosta, re­fus­ing to call on him at the news con­fer­ence. Acosta said Trump’s in­com­ing press sec­re­tary, Sean Spicer, threat­ened to have him evicted from the ses­sion if he per­sisted in try­ing to ques­tion the pres­i­dent-elect.

What’s es­pe­cially dis­turb­ing is the way the Trump team con­sis­tently tried to con­flate the re­spon­si­bly re­strained ap­proach of CNN — the fact that a pres­i­dent-elect was given a heads up about such al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing a for­eign gov­ern­ment is news — with the reck­less de­ci­sion of the on­line site Buz­zfeed to pub­lish the full 35-page dossier with all its sala­cious de­tails and du­bi­ous par­ti­san ori­gin.

CNN did not dis­close such de­tails and re­peat­edly em­pha­sized that the al­le­ga­tions were un­cor­rob­o­rated.

Team Trump has served no­tice that it will take a scorched-earth ap­proach to CNN, fo­ment­ing hate and mis­un­der­stand­ing along the way. There is a word for this tac­tic: pro­pa­ganda.

Seth Wenig / As­so­ci­ated Press

Don­ald Trump falsely ac­cuses CNN of spread­ing “fake news.”

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