News & Politics

If '$#!+hole' Rings True, It May or May Not Be True

If you’re reading this on the morning of January 12, 2018, you can turn on CNN or MSNBC right now and watch them freak out that President Trump may have said a bad word in a meeting.

Josh Dawsey, Washington Post:

President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from $#!+hole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers.

I’ve masked the profanity in this paraphrased quote, because I’m still new at PJM and I’m not sure if we can use that word here. Let’s just say it’s a rude slang term for excrement. Sorry if that’s offensive.

If Trump said that, it certainly isn’t very nice. There are lots of good people in those countries, and so on and so forth. Harrumph, harrumph, etc.

But do we know for a fact that he said it? Take a closer look at Dawsey’s construction there. He got this from “several people briefed on the meeting.” Oh, okay. So these people, whose names we do not know, were told that Trump said this bad word by somebody who was actually in the room at the time. We’re getting it third-hand.

So, who are these unnamed people? Any hints? MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin gives us one.

[WARNING: Bad word!]

So it’s been confirmed by… a Democrat. Who wasn’t even in the room.

Hey, what more proof do you need?

I can believe Trump said what they’re claiming he said. It’s not at all implausible. But I’ve also noticed that the standard of proof gets a lot looser when a Republican is sworn in as president.

People are going to believe what they want to believe. Back in 2004, the NY Times coined the perfect term for this mindset: “Fake But Accurate.” That’s how they described the early ’70s Texas Air National Guard memos about George W. Bush. Those memos turned out to be fake, but it didn’t matter because they confirmed the NYT’s biases. This attitude didn’t save Dan Rather’s career, but I suppose it was a comfort to them. They convinced themselves they still got the story right, regardless of the facts or the lack thereof.

And now, Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff has given us an indelible new phrase for this sort of “thinking”:

“If it rings true, it is true.”

Absolutely. If it’s too good to check, why check it? If it reinforces your personal beliefs, why ruin it by trying to find out whether it really happened?

(Do you really think Obama never used profanity in the White House? Do you think that if one of his less elegant off-mic utterances somehow became a big news story, our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters in the media wouldn’t bend over backward to make excuses for it?)

It’s believable that Trump said a bad word in a meeting. It’s not hard to accept that he would describe countries like Haiti and El Salvador that way. But that doesn’t prove he said it, and none of the people screaming about it seem to care whether it actually happened.

And they sure are screaming about it, all over TV. As you’re talking to your kids about what they heard on the news today, tell them not to use the word all those media people are saying. Tell them to use emojis instead:

Stay strong, America. The president of the United States probably said something very rude behind closed doors, but we’ll get through it together.

Update: Okay, somebody has finally gone on the record about it.

And it might be true, even though somebody who hates Trump is saying so. Not that it matters one way or the other to the people who are determined to believe it, or disbelieve it, no matter what.