Monday, July 17, 2017

Snopes Calls Out the MSM

What’s remarkable is the extent to which false claims about the President revolve around body language, nonverbal gestures and symbolism, all phenomena that are notoriously open to interpretation. These lies and misrepresentations are also often based on snapshots — visual evidence presented without proper context.
Take, for example, the claim that Trump was the only world leader at a G7 summit in May not to take notes, based on a photograph posted to Twitter by French President Emannuel Macron. Here Trump was portrayed as unprepared and out of his depth on the world stage, with a “ten-second attention span”. However, the claim was entirely untrue, with other images and video of the meeting showing that Trump did indeed have notes and a pen. Not only that, but the very image used to make the false claim clearly shows two other world leaders sitting with no note-taking paraphernalia. In this case, even the cherry-picked evidence chosen to make the point undermines it.
Or, from the same G7 summit, the claim that Trump was caught on video raising his middle finger to Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni. Here we have Trump, contemptuous of other world leaders, once again risking international incident with his short temper and foul manners.
Except that he didn’t. The original source of the claim is revealing — the Twitter account of GiveHimTheFinger.com, an anti-Trump website that encourages his opponents to send the White House postcards designed as a middle finger.  A longer video of the discussion shows that Trump and Gentiloni spoke cordially before the incident, which undermines the implicit logic behind the claim — that Trump was expressing anger or distain for Gentiloni. Indeed, no one has ever explained why Trump supposedly flipped him the bird, and so Occam’s Razor comes into play here.While it is possible, of course, that Trump had such a mercurial change of heart about Gentiloni that he went from sharing warm words with him to publicly insulting him in a matter of minutes, is it not far more likely that the US President just had an itchy head?
And then there’s Newsweek’s claim that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “evaded” Trump’s “notorious… bone-crunching power handshake”, about which there has been a seemingly endless supply of every imaginable kind of analysis.“In his visit to the White House Monday,” wrote Tom Porter in June,  “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi neatly sidestepped the challenge, swooping in for two bear hugs with the president during a joint press conference in the Rose Garden.” What’s missing from this account, in a theme repeated throughout this collection, is historical context, either by deliberate omission or due to the author’s lack of awareness.
Modi, as has long been noted, is famous for hugging world leaders, a gesture he bestowed upon Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, as well as the last two presidents of France, among others. Rather than being an example of yet another world leader “fighting back” (as the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland has described what are essentially firm handshakes), this was an example of India’s prime minister continuing to greet another world leader in the way he always has.
Lack of historical context and cherry-picked evidence also played a role in another particularly egregious episode, in which Occupy Democrats placed a photograph of Pope Francis frowning beside Trump, next to one of the Pontiff grinning beside Barack Obama.
“See the difference?” the caption asked. Of course: Pope happy, Pope sad. But proper context (and basic common sense) would make it clear that no meaning whatsoever can be gleaned from these two snapshots.

No comments: