What Happens When You Add Projection to Gaslighting

I suspect that, like me, most of you would find yourself agreeing with this:

They’re manipulating us. They’re lying to us. They’re controlling us. This is Orwellian. This is 1984. This is thought police, groupthink, big brother, all of it. Re-writing history and reality to fit whatever ideology they want us to buy into. And this is a huge reason why we’re so divided. Because we don’t trust anyone…no one can agree on what’s true and what’s not and sadly, most people don’t even care about the truth. No, people…only care about their truth, whatever that means. There’s no unity around a common goal to at least seek truth, because most people are denying its existence—and this is the most frustrating part about it is—the people who are peddling lies are pretending to be vigilantes, defenders of truth and liberty, fighting the good fight on the right side of history, all while condemning anyone who questions their integrity…They say they’re keeping us safe and informed, when, in reality, all they’re doing is causing chaos and uncertainty. And do you know what makes any country vulnerable to our enemies? Chaos and uncertainty.

That sounds very much like what I was talking about when I described the tactics being used by right wing media that have been borrowed from Vladimir Putin: kompromat, zersetzung and dezinformatsiya. But here’s the thing…that is the script from a video on Facebook by someone named Allie Stuckey, who calls herself the Conservative Millennial. She unleashed all of the above on the mainstream media’s coverage of the Trump/Russia probe.

Just as Trump has weaponized the whole concept of “fake news” to attack the media for holding him accountable, right-wingers who defend his lies are now claiming that the media’s attempts to get to the truth are the reason we’re so divided. But not only that. They suggest that it is the media who have become the source of chaos and uncertainty. Here is a video of right winger Cheryl Attkisson doing basically the same thing. The NRA has produced a threatening ad with a similar message.

The best analogy I can come up with is that it’s like lighting a fire and then blaming the firefighters who show up on the scene to put it out. Frankly, it’s crazy-making. This takes the whole idea of gaslighting, which was the focus of discussion a few months ago, to a whole new level. Lauren Duca captured it all pretty well back then.

To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country. He gained traction in the election by swearing off the lies of politicians, while constantly contradicting himself, often without bothering to conceal the conflicts within his own sound bites. He lied to us over and over again, then took all accusations of his falsehoods and spun them into evidence of bias.

At the hands of Trump, facts have become interchangeable with opinions, blinding us into arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question.

The reason people like Stuckey and Attkisson are taking that gaslighting to a whole new level is that they are adding projection to the mix. In other words, they’re taking what we’ve all observed about Trump’s behavior and projecting it onto those who would hold him accountable.

There is a reason why Karl Rove mastered the art of projection. It is a very effective form of propaganda because it turns every argument into a cause for bothsiderism, thereby cutting off all lanes to the truth. This particular form we are now witnessing is especially pernicious in that it is an attempt to cut off lanes to the truth by claiming to seek the truth and casting those who are doing so as the purveyors of chaos and uncertainty…all in the name of creating chaos and uncertainty.

That is how far down the rabbit hole right wing news personalities have now gone.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.