The Most Mendacious President in U.S. History

Susan Glasser in The New Yorker:

On Sunday, on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday, President Donald Trump accused the TV talk-show host Joe Scarborough of murder. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, he attacked the integrity of America’s forthcoming “rigged” election. When he woke up on Wednesday, he alleged that the Obama Administration had “spied, in an unprecedented manner, on the Trump Campaign, and beyond, and even on the United States Senate.” By midnight Wednesday, a few hours after the number of U.S. deaths in the coronavirus pandemic officially exceeded a hundred thousand, the President of the United States retweeted a video that says, “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”

This is not the first time when the tweets emanating from the man in the White House have featured baseless accusations of murder, vote fraud, and his predecessor’s “illegality and corruption.” It’s not even the first time this month. So many of the things that Trump does and says are inconceivable for an American President, and yet he does and says them anyway. The Trump era has been a seemingly endless series of such moments. From the start of his Administration, his tweets have been an open-source intelligence boon, a window directly into the President’s needy id, and a real-time guide to his obsessions and intentions. Misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies were always central to his politics. In recent months, however, his tweeting appears to have taken an even darker, more manic, and more mendacious turn, as Trump struggles to manage the convergence of a massive public-health crisis and a simultaneous economic collapse while running for reëlection. He is tweeting more frequently, and more frantically, as events have closed in on him. Trailing in the polls and desperate to change the subject from the coronavirus, mid-pandemic Trump has a Twitter feed that is meaner, angrier, and more partisan than ever before, as he amplifies conspiracy theories about the “deep state” and media enemies such as Scarborough while seeking to exacerbate divisions in an already divided country.

Strikingly, this dark turn with the President’s tweets comes as he is using his Twitter feed as an even more potent vehicle for telling his Republican followers what to do—and they are listening.

More here.