Today, Donald Trump called actress Meghan Markle nasty (for justifiably calling him misogynistic), just days before he’s due to meet her husband and in-laws. Which is why I found it strange when I came across a tweet from “Official Trump War Room” (which has a blue tick) denying that he called her nasty.
Even stranger was that they used a recording of him calling her nasty to prove that he didn’t.
It even had completely accurate subtitles. My initial reaction can only be described as…
Had they intended to doctor the audio, but accidentally uploaded the original version (and isn’t it sad that it’s now plausible that the White House would do something like that?)
But then I saw that (in a way that’s not creepy or weird at all) they’d tweeted a whole transcript of the interview in which he said it, spread across multiple tweets. And then it hit me.
Here’s what Trump actually said, after being told that Markle had criticised him:
I didn’t know that. What can I say? I didn’t know that she was nasty.
It seems pretty unequivocal, but here’s the thing: he never actually directly stated that she’s nasty.
Of course that should be irrelevant. If I say to you I didn’t know that you were nasty, you’d obviously be offended, because that statement assumes that you’re nasty (and you’re not). Sure, I’m not actually directly saying that you’re nasty, but there’s no possible way to interpret my statement as allowing for the possibility of you not being nasty.
So even if I’m not calling you nasty in a very literal sense, I very much am calling you nasty.
And for Trump, there’s no other way to interpret what he said: he called her nasty. And that’s why the tweet denying that is so worrying. We never really expect much honesty from political language, but I think this is worse than mere dishonesty. This is the administration that doesn’t want you to believe the truth, and will shamelessly lie and expect you to believe these lies.
And here they are quite openly presenting you with a certain, obvious fact, and telling you that the opposite is true. It’d be laughable if this weren’t centered round the most powerful man in the world, and if it didn’t seem to work on so many people.
One of my main concerns about Trump is the fear that he’ll normalise his behaviour for future leaders to adopt. So let’s not let him and his cronies reduce language to meaninglessness, and tell us that 2+2=5 when we can see right in front of our eyes that it says 2+2=4.
Never forget that Trump lies.