President Trump has personally pledged to spend one billion dollars if it will keep him in the White House. McKay Coppins, a journalist for The Atlantic, has identified how a substantial amount of this funding is being spent. After creating a Facebook page so he could follow pro-Trump social media accounts and communicate with online Trump supporters, Coppins uncovered something remarkable: a campaign-coordinated effort to undermine journalists and the mainstream press on a mass scale. Coppins told Hari Sreenivasan about the Trump campaign’s stunning effort to launch one of the largest disinformation campaigns ever conducted.
It is a stunning turnabout. A party that once spoke with urgency and apparent conviction about the importance of ethical leadership — fidelity, honesty, honor, decency, good manners, setting a good example — has hitched its wagon to the most thoroughly and comprehensively corrupt individual who has ever been elected president. Some of the men who have been elected president have been unscrupulous in certain areas — infidelity, lying, dirty tricks, financial misdeeds — but we’ve never before had the full-spectrum corruption we see in the life of Donald Trump.
.. And the moral indictment against Mr. Trump is obvious and overwhelming. Corruption has been evident in Mr. Trump’s private and public life,
- in how he has treated his wives,
- in his business dealings and scams,
- in his pathological lying and cruelty,
- in his bullying and shamelessness,
- in his conspiracy-mongering and appeals to the darkest impulses of Americans. (Senator Bob Corker, a Republican, refers to the president’s race-based comments as a “base stimulator.”)
Mr. Trump’s corruptions are ingrained, the result of a lifetime of habits. It was delusional to think he would change for the better once he became president.
.. Some of us who have been lifelong Republicans and previously served in Republican administrations held out a faint hope that our party would at some point say “Enough!”; that there would be some line Mr. Trump would cross, some boundary he would transgress, some norm he would shatter, some civic guardrail he would uproot, some action he would take, some scheme or scandal he would be involved in that would cause large numbers of Republicans to break with the president. No such luck. Mr. Trump’s corruptions have therefore become theirs. So far there’s been no bottom, and there may never be.
.. the Republican Party’s as-yet unbreakable attachment to Mr. Trump is coming at quite a cost. There is the rank hypocrisy, the squandered ability to venerate public character or criticize Democrats who lack it, and the damage to the white Evangelical movement, which has for the most part enthusiastically rallied to Mr. Trump and as a result has been largely discredited.
.. Mr. Trump and the Republican Party are right now the chief emblem of corruption and cynicism in American political life, of an ethic of might makes right. Dehumanizing others is fashionable and truth is relative. (“Truth isn’t truth,” in the infamous words of Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.) They are stripping politics of its high purpose and nobility.
.. A warning to my Republican friends: The worst is yet to come. Thanks to the work of Robert Mueller — a distinguished public servant, not the leader of a “group of Angry Democrat Thugs” — we are going to discover deeper and deeper layers to Mr. Trump’s corruption. When we do, I expect Mr. Trump will unravel further as he feels more cornered, more desperate, more enraged; his behavior will become ever more erratic, disordered and crazed.
Most Republicans, having thrown their MAGA hats over the Trump wall, will stay with him until the end. Was a tax cut, deregulation and court appointments really worth all this?
Billboards. TV campaigns. Radio programs. The anti-immigrant government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban uses different levers to influence public opinion, particularly on the subject of the European refugee crisis.
Even school textbooks.
On page 155 of the latest 8th-grade history textbook, students are told that Mr. Orban thinks refugees are a threat to Hungary — and then encouraged to believe he is right. “It can be problematic,” the book concludes, “for different cultures to coexist.”
.. the far-right leader’s message is now woven into the school curriculum.
.. His party’s appointees or supporters dominate many artistic institutionsand universities. A growing number of plays and exhibitions have had nationalist or anti-Western undertones. Religious groups and nongovernment organizations critical of Fidesz have seen funding dry up.
.. For many far-right populists on both sides of the Atlantic, the Hungarian leader is revered.
“He’s a hero,” Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former strategist, said this month, while touring Europe. He described Mr. Orban as “the most significant guy on the scene right now.”
.. he met with Philip Zimbardo, the psychologist who created the Stanford Prison Experiment, the controversial 1971 study of authoritarianism, which explored how ordinary people would respond when placed in positions of power.
.. how Mr. Orban has attempted to influence the civil arena through like-minded culture warriors.
.. biggest beneficiaries tended to be groups with religious and nationalist
.. since an elected government represents the will of the people — and since civil society should strive to fulfill the people’s will — then civil society exists to carry out a ruling party’s manifesto, rather than to challenge it.
.. the government sent an opinion survey to every Hungarian household that claimed Mr. Soros was leading a project — named the Soros Plan — to force Hungary to admit thousands of migrants, dismantle its border fences, and in the process “diminish the importance of the language and culture of European countries.” It was demonstrably false.
.. During the 1980s, Mr. Orban was a young liberal activist who studied civil society at Oxford University
.. “I would like,” Mr. Illes recalled Mr. Orban telling him, “to destroy all NGOs in this country.”
.. “Most theaters,” she said, “have a socially unengaged message,”
.. “It’s important for us to emphasize our identity because we could lose it in a few moments,” Mr. Dorner said in an interview, citing anxiety about immigration by “the Africans, the Middle Easterners.”
.. the academy ignored and even condemned critics of Mr. Orban such as Gyorgy Konrad, a renowned author. Instead, it awarded monthly stipends in perpetuity to artists like Gyozo Somogyi, best known for depicting Hungarian military heroes
.. When the University of Debrecen awarded an honorary doctorate last August to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president and an ally of Mr. Orban, four academic departments protested the decision.
.. Yet in response, the university leadership launched an investigation into their dissent.
.. Officially, the loss of each department’s financial autonomy has been presented as a cost-saving measure.
.. the real aim was to curb the academic autonomy of each department.
.. money was nevertheless found to sustain two entirely new academic institutions.
.. The first — Professor Patyi’s National University for Public Service — was set up to train civil servants, policemen and soldiers
.. The second, a think tank called Veritas, has a more demonstrably political aim. Its main mission is to provide revisionist interpretations of 20th-century Hungarian history — including the reign of Miklos Horthy, the autocrat who led Hungary before and during the Second World War.
.. He described the deportation of Jews under Horthy in 1941 as a mere “police action against aliens.”
.. the new preamble to the Hungarian Constitution — a controversial text which implies that Hungarian nationality is exclusively Christian, even though Hungary has a substantial Jewish minority.