Facts Have a Well-Known Liberal Bias

Facebook wanted responsible fact-checking organizations to partner with, and several such organizations exist. But all of these organizations are constantly attacked by the right as having a left-wing bias – so it added The Weekly Standard, even though it clearly failed to meet internationally accepted standards for that role.

Trump always lashes out when he’s cornered. He told me so years ago.

The president’s tweets and public remarks will only get wilder as the Russia investigation narrows.

In less than two hours, he managed to criticize his own FBI; peddle a new conspiracy theory; attack James B. Comey, Hillary Clinton and ABC; and draw more attention to the Russia probe that has already implicated several of his aides.
.. As someone who spent hundreds of hours observing Trump so I could write “The Art of the Deal,” I find his increasingly extreme behavior entirely consistent and predictable.
.. For five decades now, Trump’s pattern has been that the more aggrieved and vulnerable he feels, the more intensely he doubles down on the behaviors that have always worked for him in the past.
Sunday’s tweetstorm won’t be the last time the president indulges in self-pity, deceit and deflection. In all likelihood, it will get worse.
.. Trump’s first move in the face of criticism has always been to assume the role of victim. “Unfair” has long been one of his favorite words. He always perceives himself as the victim, so he feels justified in lashing back at his perceived accusers.

.. Here’s how he explained the tactic in “The Art of the Deal”:

“When people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard.”

And this:

“Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition.”

In the weeks ahead, Trump will also probably double down on lying, even as he falsely accuses others of being dishonest. Consider his remarkable recent suggestion to aides that his remarks on the “Access Hollywood” tape about assaulting women might not be real — even though he has already publicly acknowledged that they were his, and apologized for them. Trump regularly rewrites his narrative, using what Kellyanne Conway has called “alternative facts,” to fit whatever he wants to believe and convey in any given moment. This is classic “gaslighting” — a blend of lying, denial, insistence and intimidation designed to fuel uncertainty and doubt in others about what’s actually true.

In the time I spent with Trump, I concluded that lying became second nature to him long ago, both because he lacked any conscience about being deceptive and because he discovered that he could get away with it. “Truthful hyperbole” is the sanitized term I gave lying in “The Art of the Deal,” with Trump’s blessing. I have never met someone, before or since, who was untruthful so effortlessly.

In Trump’s mind, he is only doing what’s required to win. Here’s the way he describes himself in “The Art of the Deal”: “Despite what people think, I’m not looking to be the bad guy when it isn’t absolutely necessary.”

.. The more threatened Trump feels by troublesome facts, the more preposterous the lies he will tell.

.. To get the outcome he wants, he’s willing to be scorned, parodied and even reviled in ways most of us are not. “I’m the first to admit,” he said in “The Art of the Deal,” “that I am very competitive and that I’ll do nearly anything within legal bounds to win.” He is willing to flatter, cajole and seduce, or bully, threaten and humiliate, depending on which approach he thinks will work best.

..  I watched him switch between these modes countless times during the 18 months I spent around him.

.. If he was getting what he wanted from someone on a call, he’d invariably sign off with, “You’re the greatest, you’re the best.” If he wasn’t getting his way, he was equally comfortable hurling insults and making threats.

.. The more frequent and aggressive Trump’s tweets become, the more threatened and vulnerable he is probably feeling. But he also knows that this approach can work.

.. The other predictable pattern for Trump is his approach to loyalty. He expects it unconditionally — more so when his behaviors prompt backlash — but he provides it only as long as he gets unquestioning adulation in return.

.. One of the most revealing relationships in Trump’s life was with Roy Cohn, best known as the chief counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy

.. For more than a decade, Cohn fought hard on Trump’s behalf and was fiercely loyal to him. They often spoke multiple times in a day. But when Cohn became ill with AIDS in 1984, Trump dropped him immediately.

..  I can’t remember a single occasion during the time I spent around Trump when he seemed genuinely interested in the welfare of another human being, including any of his three then-young children. And at that time, he was under vastly less stress than he is now. If either Jared Kushner or Donald Trump Jr. become Mueller’s next target, I can’t help wondering what Trump will perceive as his self-interest.


Hillary Clinton meets Mary Beard: ‘I would love to have told Trump: “Back off, you creep”’

when Trump was stalking me [in the 2016 televised presidential debates] and leering and, oh, just generally trying to dominate me on this little stage, my mind was like: OK, I practised being calm and composed, you know, because that’s what a president should be. But, boy, would I love to turn around and say: “Back off, you creep.” But I didn’t, because I thought then his side will say: “See, she can’t take it. If she can’t take Donald standing there like the alpha male that he is, then how’s she going to stand up to Putin?” A ridiculous argument, but nevertheless one that might get traction. And, as you say, even your friends are like: “Oh, come on, don’t take the bait. Don’t take the bait.”

.. Being an academic gives you a bit of freedom to play around with things, because in the end what people think about me doesn’t matter all that much. But I remember when I first did telly, a clever, nasty but well-respected TV critic here said, basically: “You look like the back end of a bus. How dare you come into our living room with those teeth? If you’re going to inflict yourself on us, please will you smarten up.” After the first shock, I thought, look, sunshine, if you line up a load of women between 55 and 65, they’ll mostly look like me. So, I wrote a piece pointing out that he was not abusing me only, he was abusing every woman who looked a bit like me.

HC I think you touched a chord when you said: “OK, this is what a woman looks like.” When you run for office, however, what a president looks like is not any kind of woman. So therefore how you feel about this particular woman is influenced by how you feel about women in really powerful positions

.. MB When I looked back to the ancient world about this, Romans in particular were always saying that women, in some way, are fake. The problem about a woman is that she’s always made up, she’s never what she seems. 

.. HC Men can get a haircut; it doesn’t change their authenticity. They can grow a beard; they are still who they are. Whereas we are constantly held to that good old double standard, which is so complex and deep and charged with historical and mythological and cultural totems.

.. MB Your book has turned me yet more against presidential debates. I mean, what did I learn from the debates? I learned absolutely nothing that I didn’t think I knew already. I knew that Trump was ghastly. I knew I’d vote for Hillary if I had a vote. So to say: “I don’t think we’ll have a debate this year,” seems antidemocratic. But democracy has to think a bit harder about the dissemination of knowledge.

.. HC Part of the reason I prepared [for them], and part of the reason I had such an extensive, substantive policy portfolio, is that there have been, in the past, moments of reckoning, where a smart moderator will really pin you down: “OK, you say you want to do this on taxes – what will be the impact on economic growth?” I mean, something that’s a little more sophisticated and really does require you to be on your toes. But that didn’t happen this time at all.

..  And the Greeks would have seen this. Democracy requires information. Plato knew that informed decision-making requires knowledge.

.. There is a deliberate, very well‑organised, sophisticated assault on facts and reason and evidence. In our country, it’s driven originally by a cabal of billionaires and religious fundamentalists, and their view is that it doesn’t matter what they say. If they say it often enough and they put enough money behind it, they’ll convince a significant number of people.

.. But you’re in a double bind, as a historian or a politician or any job where expertise is required. You don’t want to say: “Only politicians are allowed to talk about foreign policy.” You want to share and debate with people who’ve got different opinions, of course you do – but actually you sometimes need to have read something about it.

.. HC .. I wanted to ask you about that memorable debate you had with Boris Johnson over Greece versus Rome. He is a reality TV kind of character from my observation, don’t you think?

MB Yes!

HC And he knows it and he knows how to play it. It’s very deliberate. The same with Trump. I mean, it’s a persona that they have assumed, which really works for them, even the same kind of hair. The hair is part of the whole deal.

MB And it is so contrived, and it is contrived to look so spontaneous, it makes you sick.

.. HC It’s interesting, because men’s roles in public life are somewhat evolving. It used to be: you go for the sober character on the right or the left, who you think represents your views and whose platform you support. They could come in different sizes and shapes, but there was an assumption they were serious people, even if they had a good sense of humour, right?

Now, because of what I think is the pressure of performance, which is more important than substance by a long shot, it is the performance that matters most. We’re going to see more of this type. And I think then it’s particularly hard to pin down and make the argument about position and facts versus performance and rhetoric.

MB When I debated with Boris about Greece versus Rome, it was a fun charity gig, but it revealed precisely that. Boris is very funny. He can work an audience. I admire it. I knew the only way I was going to have a chance of winning was by being fantastically prepared.

HC That sounds very familiar. [Laughter.]


.. MB It’s back to the old version that was prevalent at university when I was an undergraduate – you know, that it was the women who were in on the Saturday nights doing the work, and they were very diligent, but they didn’t really have that…

HC They didn’t have the creative…

MB The flair. So, they were awfully reliable – and by awfully reliable, you mean very boring. Whereas, somehow, what both Boris and Trump have done is they’ve branded themselves around gaffes, so that it no longer makes a difference. One extra gaffe doesn’t matter, because that’s the brand.

HC Women are going to have to learn how to pull off that trick. I think it’s difficult, but it has to be possible, because there’s no alternative.

Ehud Barak: We Must Save Israel From Its Government

For all of Israel’s great achievements in its seven decades of statehood, our country now finds its very future, identity and security severely threatened by the whims and illusions of the ultranationalist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

.. this government has been irrational, bordering on messianic

.. The government realizes that carrying out its one-state plan must entail steps and practices that necessarily clash with Israeli and international law — which is why it has effectively declared war on

  • the Supreme Court of Israel,
  • the free press and civil society, as well as
  • the Israel Defense Forces’ ethical code.

This disrespect for the rule of law permeates other aspects of the government, too. It helps to shield the prime minister, his family and his aides from corruption investigations. Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party recently introduced legislation that would explicitly forbid the police from recommending indictments at the end of high-profile investigations.

.. The Middle East is certainly a tough neighborhood. The threats to Israel are real and none can be ignored. Our country, however, has built an “iron wall” of military and economic power that has made us into the strongest player in the region.
.. there is a broad consensus among Israelis that rests on three pillars.
  1. First and foremost, security comes before everything; every Israeli understands this.
  2. Second, the unity, solidarity and integrity of the people take priority over the unity of the land — namely, the wish to possess the entirety of our historic homeland.
  3. Third, the principles of the 1948 Declaration of Independence, which lay out a vision for a democratic Israel based on freedom, justice and peace, are the foundation of our country’s de facto constitution.
.. The entire debate, then, is actually only over the fate of the isolated settlements, fewer than 100 small communities deep in the West Bank, containing around 100,000 settlers. Even if it is not possible to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at this stage — and it probably is not — it is obvious that continued construction in those isolated settlements directly damages Israel’s vital interests.
.. Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition claims to support the three pillars of Israeli consensus but the truth is it is determinedly undermining all three.
.. He prefers a Greater Israel with an Arab majority, violence and division over a united, self-confident Israel with a solid Jewish majority
.. He sanctifies the Land of Israel before the People of Israel. And he systematically erodes Israel’s democracy and liberal norms of governance.
.. In the service of this agenda, Mr. Netanyahu elevated fake news, alternative facts and whataboutism into art forms in Hebrew, long before those terms gained any traction in English.