Letter to the Editor:

In his Feb. 1 column, Byron McNutt made a vain attempt at normalizing President Donald Trump’s propensity for falsehood, labeling it as a lack of political correctness. 

He later admitted that “we’ve already heard Trump exaggerate the truth.” Such depictions may be politically correct on Mr. McNutt’s part, but they amount to putting lipstick on a pig. 

In reality, Trump is a pathological liar! Comparing his compulsive dishonesty to President Obama’s promises that did not come to fruition (referencing the Affordable Care Act) is simply a false equivalency. 

Trump’s refusal to hold actual press conferences (where legitimate correspondents in an appropriate venue have an opportunity for follow-up questioning), his level of contempt for the White House Press Corps and mainstream media, reliance on Twitter and continued use of post-election campaign rallies (his so-called “thank you tour”) all demonstrate his determination not to have to face rigorous questioning. 

As Russian chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov recently observed, “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

A free press, the so-called “fourth estate,” is a pillar of our democracy. It is tasked with fact checking our elected officials and exposing corruption. 

When Trump lashes out at legitimate news agencies, calling them liars, fake news or the opposition party, he is not simply overreacting to criticism. It is not because he is thin-skinned and narcissistic. When the fourth estate is delegitimized, people don’t know who or what to believe and become more accepting of sensational fabrications on the Internet, in tabloid publications or from Trump himself. 

The only major newspaper, with circulation over 75,000, to endorse candidate Trump was the National Enquirer, which would be funny were it not so serious. The sheer volume of Trump’s controversial or inappropriate statements and actions is overwhelming and tends to desensitize us.

When we are no longer shocked by his outrageous lies and provocations, he is encouraged to push the envelope further. Then, our democratic form of government and our nation’s security are at risk.

Terrance Moe