In 1974, Jon Landau famously declared, “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” Earlier today, I saw the future of political lying, and its name is Kellyanne Conway.
Conway’s performance on CNN’s Reliable Sources has to be seen to be disbelieved. It was 20 minutes of BS bravura, a disturbing, sickening, yet fascinating combination of explicit falsehoods, near-fanatical hero worship, nasty insults and off-the-scale egomania. It was like watching a horror movie with no blood, no screaming, no gratuitous violence, yet one that’s scarier than any slasher flick.
I’m not a religious person, but as I watched Conway’s hate-filled responses to Brian Stelter’s questions, I had the image of a person who, upon death, was offered a chance to pick heaven or hell and eagerly volunteered for hell on the grounds that it would be a far more interesting experience. Conway seems to believe that Donald Trump can literally do no wrong, is not remotely responsible for anything negative going on in this country–and is the ultimate victim of discrimination.
The paranoia of Conway’s vision is immeasurable in its depth. Nixon wasn’t this paranoid. Conway is convinced that Trump is under siege by the mainstream media, by Democrats, by Clinton loyalists. She probably thinks the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission are coming after him, too.
Stelter tried the best he could to knock down Conway’s piled-up prevarications, but he was overmatched. Conway is simply too good of a liar. Frighteningly, if this were considered a debate, Conway would be declared the winner, because she came across as more forceful and confident than Stelter–even though Stelter was the one telling the truth.
“The goal [of the press] is not to get the President,” Stelter declared at one point. “The goal is to get the truth. There’s a lot of people lying, and trying to obscure the truth.” Sadly, they seem to be doing a damn good job of it–and their skill at obscuring the truth is the greatest threat to our democracy.
Thanks to the likes of Conway, Trump could well survive the Mueller investigation. It can be argued that Nixon didn’t survive Watergate because he didn’t have propagandists good enough to overwhelm the mainstream press with the power of their spin. That’s not a problem Trump has. Conway, Sean Hannity and the other Trumpistas inside and outside of his administration are the 82nd Airborne of acerbic amorality.
Conway declared this morning that Trump is “happy to send me” onto outlets such as CNN to preach his grotesque gospel. If I were Trump, I’d be happy to send Conway as well; if you want someone who defend your lies, get someone who’s great at it. Conway is to lying what Katharine Hepburn was to acting.
Towards the end of the interview, Stelter asked Conway if she’ll be proud of defending Trump a decade or two from now. Of course she will. “Zealotry” isn’t a strong enough word to describe her pro-Trump fervor; the best description I can give is that it was reminiscent of Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now.
What I wouldn’t give to see footage of Stelter off-air once that segment ended. Was he stunned by the sheer magnitude of Conway’s chicanery? Did he question the ability of the Fourth Estate to ensure that facts prevailed over falsehoods? Did he wonder whether CNN should continue providing a forum to those who are talented at twisting the truth? And if so, how did he answer that question in his mind?