The 35% to 40% of Americans who support Trump believe in a conspiracy theory. They believe that the mainstream news companies are controlled by a cabal whose leaders have reduced America to an international patsy with a victimized citizenry. Trump, on several occasions, has declared “the fake news media” as the “true enemies of the American people, among the most dishonest people on the face of the earth.”
People who believe in conspiracies discount facts that contradict their grand notions of how the world works. If you are a Holocaust denier, for example, the thousands of pages of Nazi documents, the photographs, and the testimony of thousands of eyewitnesses are fake. They believe that Jewish people promote the fake Holocaust narrative to further their interests to the detriment of all others.
Last May, Rich Higgins, a National Security Council (NSC) staff member, wrote an essay that is frighteningly reminiscent of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. I have a copy of the memo because Higgins proudly disseminated it to people outside the government. One of them sent a copy to Foreign Policy, a news web site that published the complete text. I found it so remarkable that I made a copy that I’d be pleased to share. (Curiously, the 8-page text has been removed from the article and is no longer available through the Foreign Policy website.)
According to Higgins, Trump is conducting an all-out information war against the enemies of the people: Mainstream Media, Academia, Cultural Marxists (secular humanists), The Deep State (non-elected government), Global Corporatists & Bankers, Republican Leadership (elected government), and Islamists. Like Hitler, Higgins urges an unrelenting propaganda war to legitimize an alternative narrative and to discredit the entrenched manipulators of public perception. Higgins urges Trump to attack the media relentlessly by controlling the daily news cycle, else his mission will fail. He declares information warfare – not governance – as the President’s most important task.
The “Fake News” concept is more than a convenient way to deny the truth, it is an essential element of a worldview. If the news is “real”, then Higgins’ alternate narrative cannot be believed. There is more to the information war than ‘breaking news’ and ‘new information reveals”. The stunning manifesto, written in the bowels of Trump’s White House, is as clear as Mein Kampf. It is an alternative narrative absolutely antagonistic to the way I see the world.
This is not politics as usual. As a few intelligent Republican Senators have said, “This is not normal”. Relegating universities and news companies as “fake” is an attack on, the nature of evidence, the basis of Reason, the foundations of civilization. This is the real news, this is what’s happening before our eyes in 2017 – a deliberate, managed effort on the part of the Trump Administration to change the way we know the truth. The Higgins memo is a strategy for winning the information war. The war is not a possibility, not something that could happen. It is happening now.
Trump’s choice to lead the NSC was General Michael Flynn, a maniacal pro-Russian, Christian (anti-Islam) crusader. When his speeches were published by the media (NYT, WP, CNN, ABC, NBC, etc.), Flynn was replaced by General H. R. McMaster, a militarist less rabid than Flynn. To ensure that Flynn’s concepts continued to influence NSC policy, Trump insisted that the alt-right theorist Steve Bannon occupy a seat at NSC meetings. Last June, when General H. R. McMaster learned that Higgins had sent his memo outside the government, he fired him. Trump, according to Foreign Policy, was furious. In July, Bannon left the NSC to run Breitbart News and lead the campaign against non-Trump Republicans in 2018. I don’t know what happened to Higgins, but I’ll bet you that he’s working with Bannon.
Bannon will be far more destructive in his current role than as a glowering presence in meetings as Trump’s alter ego. The 2018 elections will be a war for leadership of the Republican Party. Should Trump’s candidates win, which seems likely under Bannon’s management, America will be in even deeper trouble. Conservatism is rational. Progressivism is rational. Trump’s view is paranoid. He believes that America is a victim, that HE is a victim. Of whom? Of people like me.