Background Briefing: December 22, 2019


Trump Uses His Lies to Create a New Reality

We begin with President Trump’s call to young conservatives after being introduced by Rush Limbaugh at a rally on Saturday, to “defend our way of life” against what he described as “the far-left ruling class”. And when the MAGA hat-wearing crowd started to chant “four more years”, Trump replied “From now on, start yelling 16 more years”. Ruth Ben Ghiat, a Professor of History at New York University who writes and speaks on fascism, war, racism, authoritarian rulers and propaganda, joins us to discuss how Trump uses the 15,000 plus lies that have issued forth from him so far in his presidency as a way to create a new reality since they are echoed by Fox News and automatically accepted as truth by his base. She describes this shape-shifting as a “power play” which is how a cult of personality works when the leader says something that everyone knows is wrong, and no one will correct him. With Trump’s iron grip over the Republican Party never firmer than now in spite of his impeachment, Trump’s base defiantly defends him with partisan zeal, believing he is a victim while his persecutors see him as a villain. We will assess how far Trump will go in his embrace of despotism and whether his actions will match his strongman rhetoric. If he is determined to rule for 16 years, a recent poll suggests 43% of his base would be fine with Trump ruling without the encumbrance of the Congress or the Courts.


Trump Uses the Rhetorical Techniques of Demagogues

Then we speak with Jennifer Mercieca, a professor in the Department of Communications at Texas A&M University where she teaches courses on Political Communication and Presidential Rhetoric. Her new book, out in June, is “Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump” and we will discuss Trump’s campaign speeches and rallies which on the surface seem simplistic, repetitive and disorganized but in fact are the common rhetorical techniques of a demagogue expertly used by a seasoned Reality TV star.


Former US Intelligence Officers Believe Trump is a “Controlled Spy”

Then finally we speak with a former senior Intelligence officer who was among the first to recognize Donald Trump as a threat to our national security who is behaving like a “controlled spy”. Glenn Carle, who was a member of the CIA’s Clandestine Service for 23 years retiring in 2007 as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats, joins us. The author of “The Interrogator: An Education”, we will discuss whether Nancy Pelosi’s repeated reference to Trump as a continuing threat to our national security will be acted on.