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The Troll Party

June 1, 2020

Rush Limbaugh made a telling defense of Trump falsely labeling Joe Scarborough a murderer:

[T]he thing here is when you get to Trump and his conspiracy theories, he does it in a really clever way. And this is where people don’t get the subtlety of Trump because they don’t think he has the ability to be subtle. Trump never says that he believes these conspiracy theories that he touts. He’s simply passing them on. … do you think Trump cares whether Scarborough murdered anybody or not? No, of course he doesn’t care. So why is he tweeting it? .. Trump is just throwing gasoline on a fire here, and he’s having fun watching the flames.

Well, only a professional troll might consider that a subtle act rather than a vicious one. Limbaugh defends it on the grounds of what Scarborough has said about Trump. As if that justifies something so dishonest and corrosive in response. As if Trump doesn’t purposely push bullshit all the time. Sometimes directly, sometimes in the sly fashion Limbaugh confesses above. He does that to target his enemies, to distract the media, to generate conflict, to align their followers, and to fog debate. He does it without the least care about the truth, even when it involves a false accusation of murder. He does that without any concern about who is hurt.

Bernard Goldberg hopes that ordinary decency will cause Americans to turn away from a president who spins lies around the recently deceased. Does he not remember the many times that was done before, not by Trump, but by the movement he rides? Hillary Clinton purposely withheld military response during the attack on Benghazi. Seth Richards was murdered because he, not Russia, pilfered the DNC emails. The Sandy Hook shooting was staged. All conspiracy theories wrapped around innocent victims violently killed. Trump didn’t create a populist movement held together by ugly bogosity. Limbaugh and Hannity and their ilk did that. Trump just realized he was fit to become its leader.

Trolls are not nice. No one who casually and routinely tells such lies, including lies about the dead, adding to a family’s grief, gets the usual presumption of good will when they then turn to other topics or purpose. That is why neither King Troll nor his acolytes get normal reception when they make what otherwise might be viewed as pleas for civility, appeals to unity, shows of sympathy, or calls for resolve, were they to come from someone normal. Anything they say that expresses a concern for integrity is just laughable. Bullshitters and conmen are not normal. Nothing they say can be trusted. Anything might be part of their game.

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