A journalist, fact-checking about Trump.
Fact-checking session. // Credit : Gala Jacquin / CC.BY.SA

« It’s totally fake news. Made a fake run through the same stories as you ask me the same questions. Four years ago, I had to litigate this and talk about totally fake news. » Donald J. Trump, September 27th, 2020.

Since he invested in the White House, the 45th POTUS has said more than twenty thousand fake items, according to The Fact Checker’s database of the Washington Post. A number that keeps growing. Recently, the New York Times revealed that Donald Trump “had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made”. In order to argue his allegation, the daily explains it “has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his two years in office”.

A piece of information that the President of the United States vehemently denied. The “total fake news” as he likes to call it, was impossible to verify since he never publicly revealed his tax declaration. A lack of transparency reinforced a few hours before the first presidential debate, when the Democratic candidate Joe Biden, released his 2019 taxes, asking Trump to do as so, without success.

The behavior of the United-States’ Head, is the perfect example of what some people call : the “Post-Truth Era”. To understand what it is, we asked Robert Bourgoing, a trainer specialized in Open Source Investigation Technique, media literacy, and critical information literacy :

By tickling people’s feelings, Trump contorts brilliantly to avoid putting forward facts. Acting this way, he gives a hard time to journalists, who constantly investigate, in order to deconstruct what he says by delivering proof of false information. Unfortunately, by saying what people want to hear, he convinces them. This leads to a questioning of the profession of journalist, even if the job is done in a professional way.

Because social networks transmit emotions, it is important to unravel real facts from “mounted from scratch” facts. Trump shapes the reality he wants to serve, but he is not the only one. Some sorts of behaviors tend to underestimate the value of information and by extension, journalism. By presenting what people want to hear, the current POTUS uses “gas-lighting” as a political tactic, allowing him to maintain a constant popularity rating, asserting his power.

Donald Trump by planting seeds of doubt in some US-citizen minds, debunks the media and politics. Hopefully, not everybody is taking what he says for granted. In order to deconstruct the fake news, and not only these delivered by the current POTUS, Robert Bourgoing also recommends a global awareness of this field. Awareness that goes through education.

The fake news : a powerful enemy of society that can only be fought with people’s capacity to fact check. By systematically verifying every single piece of information that pops to our eyes, it will become automatic. This way, it will stop the spread and contribute to restoring confidence in the media.