Donald Trump’s signature narcissism (as well as his excessive carnival barker personality) was on full display at his first solo press conference on February 16. It was an elaborate and colorful show—and yet, I refuse to be entertained. The Big Lies, the misdirection, the chaos, the doublethink were all present in every one of the 77 minutes His Highness held forth. But the response cannot simply be to point out the lies; we must remember that lying in public is a hallmark of authoritarian propaganda, and that the real message under every little lie is this: “I can lie in public, over and over again, and no one can stop me; you must bow before me because I’m the god who creates the world you live in—get used to it.” Here’s the autocrat pointing to a reporter who contradicted a relatively minor falsehood: “I would be your biggest fan in the world if you treated me right.” Ah, yes. Clarity.
The Autocrat Speaks