I'm continually amazed by the American voter's seemingly lack of concern about truth and honesty. Their willingness to ignore facts in order to maintain existing beliefs or support of political leaders has been demonstrated repeatedly during the presidential campaign and up to the present time. Even when the evidence is clear that they have been lied to they nevertheless too often brush it off as unimportant. One clear example is the Trump accusation about wire tapping during the campaign. Look at the way this has developed:
The background: Wiretap accusation tweets
Out of the blue president Trump sent out tweets accusing President Obama of illegal wiretapping during the campaign of Trump at Trump Tower:
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” And:
“How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
It turns out that conspiracy radio host Mark Levin had made the unsupported wiretapping claim on radio which was then reprinted in Breitbart, an ultra conservative media. That report was part of Trump’s daily reading materials. Trump reportedly read the article on Saturday and immediately sent out the tweets. Since the original report is baseless there is no evidence that can be provided to support the accusation. It did have one benefit to Trump – a media diversion from the hot topic of Russian involvement for Trump in the campaign. The tweets put the Russian issue in the media rear view mirror which may have been Trump’s goal.
Demand of Proof & the Response
When reporters demanded proof of the accusations none were given and Trump went silent. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, flatly denied there were any wiretaps on Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. FBI director James Comey denied it as well and asked the Justice Department to confirm this fact as well, but under Trump appointee Jeff Sessions, it was not done.
Trump aides began a political spin and evasions. Kellyanne Conway when pressed for proof of any kind offered none and instead has responded:
“He’s the president of the United States,” she said. “He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not, and that’s the way it should be.”
And she also offered this unresponsive excuse:
“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other…through their phones, certainly through their television sets – any number of ways”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer took another tact at the failure to support the accusation by changing the accusation actually made to this:
“He doesn’t really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally. But I think there’s no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election. That is a widely reported activity that occurred back then.”
Then in another shift of position Spicer offer this evasion:
“The president used the word ‘wiretapped’ in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities.” But, note that neither of them offered any proof or claimed any proof existed of any kind.
The administration has decided Trump should remain silent on the issue and their spokespersons have been given the role of evasion and misdirection instead of direct lying to the public. They have decided to respond with irrelevant answers and speculation without proof instead honesty and truthfulness. This is how simple the issue is:
President Trump publically claimed former president Obama is a “bad or sick” person because he had Trump Tower wire tapped. His accusation is straightforward and unequivocal. The question is simple: Having made this serious accusation several times do you or the administration have evidence of any kind to support it – Yes or no? If no evidence exists isn't this a clear example of "fake news" and irresponsibility for which an apology is due?
So, what’s the public attitude? One survey reports that by five to three, Americans say President Trump’s charge that Barack Obama ordered taps on Trump's phones is false. But, the latest Rasmussen Reports that Republicans and Trump supporters in general strongly suspect the Obama administration was wiretapping the Trump campaign last year.
The fact is that truth and lies are seen as political rather than moral issues in today's America. Whatever our political position we should all be outraged when the president of the United States makes an egregious accusation like this against a former president. it isn't political. It is immoral.