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Reliable Sources: Rudy said 'truth isn't truth,' but he got something right

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. ...

Posted: Aug 20, 2018 10:56 AM
Updated: Aug 20, 2018 10:56 AM

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Rudy's right*

*Yes, there IS such a thing as truth. And the truth needs defending. But Rudy Giuliani was tapping into something real when he told Chuck Todd that "truth isn't truth" on Sunday's "Meet the Press." Something cynical, but real.

No, it won't fly in court. But, as is often pointed out, Rudy is fighting in the court of public opinion. And "truth isn't truth" for Trump's most fervent supporters. They don't trust the usual "truth" suppliers. They feel that the truth is whatever the president says it is, whatever the president's lawyer says it is.

In fact, this is one of Trump's top accomplishments in office: Destroying the notion of an agreed-upon set of facts...

The new "alternative facts"

What is it about Chuck Todd?! Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" moment happened on his broadcast. And then "truth isn't truth" supplanted it, also on his broadcast.

THE CONTEXT: As CNN's Caroline Kenny explained here, Rudy was "explaining that he won't let special counsel Robert Mueller rush Trump into testifying because he doesn't want investigators to trap the President into a lie."

THE REACTION: Eugene Robinson was waiting in the wings as a panelist on "MTP." He said "jaws dropped around the set" when Rudy said it...

THE REALITY: "I think the idea that 'truth isn't truth' is going to go down as this White House's legal strategy," panelist Yamiche Alcindor said afterward...

"Don't do 'truth isn't truth' to me"

That was my favorite line of the whole interview. When Todd said "this is going to become a bad meme," Giuliani answered, "No, no, no ... don't do this to me," and Todd won the exchange with, "Don't do 'truth isn't truth' to me." Todd was saying, in essence, don't lie to me and my viewers. Giuliani had lied just a few minutes earlier...

Competing reports, competing truths

But again -- lemme just come back to the point about Trump world's relationship with truth -- we are witnessing what's at the end of a path of 1,000 lies. This is it: "Truth isn't truth." What's a lie when there's no such thing as THE truth? Just competing versions of truth?

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I talked about this on CNN with Ana Cabrera on Sunday night. To most Americans, I said, this is repulsive. But Trump's fan base chooses to believe that Trump and Giuliani are presenting truth.

"Time for Mueller investigation to file report. We will release ours," Giuliani tweeted on Saturday. So in other words, there will be TWO reports, one about obstruction of justice and another that refutes Mueller and creates confusion about the findings.

For all of us journos, this means one thing: double down on our reporting.

NYT's reporters are on fire...

The Times owned the weekend, first with Saturday afternoon's jaw-dropper about Don McGahn's cooperation with the Mueller probe, then with a Sunday afternoon follow-up about the fallout from that article, then with a Sunday evening scoop about Michael Cohen being investigated for "bank fraud in excess of $20 million."

Maggie Haberman had a byline on all three. (The two McGahn stories were written with Michael Schmidt... The Cohen story was co-bylined with William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess.)

Key graf in the Cohen story: "The inquiry has entered the final stage and prosecutors are considering filing charges by the end of August..."

Keep this in mind when Trump says the paper is "failing"

Jordan Valinsky's story about Trump's Sunday morning tirade against the NYT included this key factoid:

"In his tweet, Trump again called the Times 'failing,' but the newspaper actually reported a healthy second-quarter profit. Two years ago today, he also called the Times 'failing' and 'dying.' The Times' stock is up nearly 77% since that tweet."

Speaking of that tirade...

"King Kong"

Trump's half dozen tweets on Sunday compared Mueller's "gang" to Joseph McCarthy, introduced the idea of a "John Dean type 'RAT,'" and claimed that "some members of the media" called to "complain and apologize" for the NYT's scoop about McGahn. He also misspelled the word "counsel" three times.

I said on "Reliable Sources" that if we were watching this all unfold from some other country, we'd question the US president's wellness. "Is he okay?"

Trump's Twitter behavior lends credence to one of the many details in Saturday's Times story. It said that Trump's behavior has so exasperated McGahn "that he has called the president 'King Kong' behind his back, to connote his volcanic anger..."

Tweet of the weekend

NYT's Peter Baker: "Shades of 1974? The week started with an enemies list, then came secret White House tapes and it finishes with a White House counsel spilling to a special prosecutor."

Read more of Sunday's Reliable Sources newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33591

Reported Deaths: 1204
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds269748
DeSoto181818
Madison138236
Jones117349
Harrison104014
Rankin103515
Neshoba102274
Lauderdale94281
Forrest93943
Scott79215
Jackson72717
Washington64310
Copiah63115
Leake61320
Lee58621
Holmes57341
Oktibbeha56828
Wayne55416
Warren55320
Yazoo5436
Grenada5357
Lowndes52613
Leflore52256
Lincoln50935
Lamar5027
Pike47020
Sunflower4528
Lafayette4374
Monroe43635
Covington4195
Panola3996
Bolivar38018
Attala37524
Simpson3733
Newton35710
Adams34019
Pontotoc3266
Tate32313
Marion31312
Claiborne29310
Chickasaw29219
Winston28711
Pearl River27632
Noxubee2758
Marshall2693
Jasper2676
Clay25511
Union23811
Smith23412
Walthall2267
Coahoma2156
Clarke21425
Lawrence1992
Yalobusha1938
Kemper18014
Carroll17311
Tallahatchie1664
Humphreys15910
Montgomery1493
Calhoun1475
Tippah14411
Itawamba1418
Hancock13813
Webster12811
Tunica1193
Jefferson1173
Jefferson Davis1164
Prentiss1123
Greene10810
Amite1063
George1023
Wilkinson959
Tishomingo921
Quitman891
Alcorn852
Perry764
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin492
Benton420
Sharkey420
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6030162
Mobile4418137
Montgomery4339109
Tuscaloosa254448
Madison19078
Marshall186611
Shelby150924
Lee149437
Morgan12205
Baldwin111410
Walker105127
Elmore98919
Dallas9639
Franklin92216
Etowah88214
DeKalb8416
Chambers65727
Russell6570
Autauga65313
Butler64328
Tallapoosa61669
Unassigned58626
Limestone5741
Houston5526
Cullman5395
Lauderdale5376
Lowndes48022
St. Clair4692
Colbert4656
Pike4595
Escambia4528
Calhoun4365
Coffee4074
Covington39911
Jackson3742
Bullock37010
Barbour3672
Dale3621
Talladega3497
Hale33722
Marengo33011
Wilcox2968
Clarke2946
Winston2893
Chilton2872
Sumter28512
Blount2731
Pickens2556
Monroe2492
Marion24514
Randolph2449
Conecuh2277
Perry2091
Bibb2081
Macon2069
Choctaw20212
Greene1928
Henry1433
Crenshaw1273
Washington1277
Lawrence1170
Cherokee1127
Geneva920
Lamar811
Fayette781
Clay742
Coosa621
Cleburne411
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