In Case You’re One of Those Citizens Who Want to Keep Track

Amy Siskind, a former Wall Street executive, is documenting the odd and troubling things happening in Washington. She publishes a summary every week. Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post wrote about her efforts:

[In November] Siskind began keeping what she calls the Weekly List, tracking all the ways in which she saw America’s taken-for-granted governmental norms changing in the [DT] era.

The project started small, read by friends and with only a few items a week.

By Week 9, though, the list had gone viral.

“It blew up — I had 2 million views that week,” she said. “People were responding like crazy, saying things like, ‘I’m praying for you.’ ”

As time went on, the list grew much longer and more sophisticated. Here are three of her 85 items from mid-June:

●“Monday, in a bizarre display in front of cameras, Trump’s cabinet members took turns praising him.”

●“AP reported that a company that partners with both Trump and (son-in-law) Jared Kushner is a finalist for a $1.7bn contract to build the new FBI building.

●Vice President Pence hired a big-name “lawyer with Watergate experience to represent him in the Russian probe.”

Now, in Week 32, every item has a source link, and rather than just a few items, there are dozens. (Her weekly audience usually hits hundreds of thousands, she said, on platforms including Medium, Facebook and Twitter.)

The idea, she said, came from her post-election reading about how authoritarian governments take hold — often with incremental changes that seem shocking at first but quickly become normalized. Each post begins with: “Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember”…

“It’s scary to look back on the early weeks and see what we’ve already gotten used to,” she said. Examples: a secretary of state who rarely speaks publicly, the failure to fill important positions in many agencies, a president who often eschews intelligence briefings in favor of “Fox & Friends.”

“We forget all the things we should be outraged about,” Siskind said.

Jay Rosen, a New York University journalism professor and author of the PressThink blog, called Siskind’s efforts “a service that is thoroughly journalistic and much needed.”

The lists “help people experience the history that is being made and keeps them alive and alert to the dangers of eroding norms,” Rosen said.

In their user-friendly format, he said, they are “one way of dealing with an overload of significant news, a surplus of eventfulness that allows things to hide in plain sight simply because there are too many of them to care about”…

She posts the list on Saturday on Facebook and Twitter, and Sunday on Medium after working on it for 15 or 20 hours a week.

In a similar vein, The New York Times published a piece this weekend called “Trump’s Lies”:

Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office….

There is simply no precedent for an American president to spend so much time telling untruths. Every president has shaded the truth or told occasional whoppers. No other president — of either party — has behaved as Trump is behaving….

We have set a conservative standard here, leaving out many dubious statements … [but] we believe his long pattern of using untruths to serve his purposes, as a businessman and politician, means that his statements are not simply careless errors.

We are using the word “lie” deliberately. Not every falsehood is deliberate on Trump’s part. But it would be the height of naïveté to imagine he is merely making honest mistakes. He is lying.

The list begins on January 21st (“I didn’t want to go into Iraq”) and ends on June 21st (“We’re one of the highest taxed nations in the world”). You won’t be surprised to see it’s a long list. If they provide the number of lies, I missed it.

The Times is actually late to this effort. Just as he did during the campaign, Daniel Dale of The Toronto Star is keeping a running list of false things DT says. The list was last updated on June 22nd. It was a big day because DT had a campaign rally in Iowa the night before (isn’t it strange that the President is holding campaign rallies when the next Presidential election is more than three years away? I bet Amy Siskind has mentioned this.)

The Star‘s list has 330 unique entries so far. There’s also a handy search mechanism that allows you to sort his false statements by topic. 

Dale also covered DT’s rally on Wednesday night (“It was just like old times”):

[DT] insulted Hillary Clinton. He insulted Chicago. He attributed a sensational claim to an unnamed buddy of his.

He floated a confusing proposal, promising to change welfare law to something that sounds identical to current welfare law. He executed a dizzying shift in rhetoric, applauding himself for appointing a former Goldman Sachs executive after railing against Goldman Sachs. And he revealed an unbaked plan — to turn his hypothetical giant wall on the Mexican border into a power-generating “solar wall” that would reduce the hypothetical reimbursement bill he still insists he will be sending to Mexico.

More than anything, though, he made things up.

By the way, members of DT’s adminstration and a few Republican politicians are trying to defend the Senate’s healthcare bill. They’re using the only available method: lying about it.