“It is, emperically, a stunning allegation for which the White House is providing no evidence”
What is the best way to expose President Trump’s “alternative facts”?
Do you engage in debate, call him names, or simply ignore him?
So far, none of these approaches has yielded tangible results. But for journalists, at least, CNN’s Jake Tapper may have just provided a clear path forward.
On his daily political program, The Lead With Jake Tapper, the anchor and longtime political journalist decided to address Trump’s allegations of massive voter fraud head on.
“President Trump is claiming, and the White House is reaffirming, the fiction that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election,” Tapper said at the top of his broadcast.
If you’re not familiar, Trump has been aggressively alleging that three to five million people voted illegally in last year’s presidential election, denying him a victory in the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
“It is, empirically, a stunning allegation for which the White House is providing no evidence. And there is a reason they are providing no evidence: There is no evidence. It is not true,” Tapper said flatly.
So far, Tapper’s smackdown might not sound all that different than anyone else calling b.s. on Trump’s lies. But instead of just being dismissive, Tapper meets the allegation head on. In debate, it’s called a steel man argument—rather than the typical straw man approach, in which you make someone’s claim sound so dumb that you don’t actually have to mount a logical defense against it.
But that didn’t mean Tapper was above throwing some haymakers. Like this part where he uses Trump’s own controversial and derided press secretary against him:
“Moments ago, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer acknowledged that the president believes three to five million votes were illegally cast in November. It was interesting what Mr. Spicer did not say; he did not say that he shared the belief after he was asked,” Tapper said.
And then he brought in the steel man, treating Trump’s argument as if it were reasonable and then fully dismantling it:
“Now, has there ever been voter fraud, any instances? Yes. Massive voter fraud? Three to five million votes cast illegally in 2016? No. It’s simply not true. In fact, if there were even a fraction of the voter fraud President Trump is alleging, he would be derelict not to order an investigation,” Tapper said.
“It would likely require a vast conspiracy involving public officials all over the country and would likely have far-reaching impact in other contests, tainting races down the ballot, not just the presidential race,” he continued.
“If President Trump’s beliefs are true, Republican leaders in Congress should be holding hearings and trumpeting this injustice every single day. His Justice Department, his Department of Homeland Security—all of them would need to crack down immediately. Unless, of course, it’s not even remotely true.”
The whole thing was a master class in poignant political discourse and provides a road map for critics on either side of the political aisle for confronting Trump and his surrogates moving forward. Holding alternative facts up to the sunlight of actual facts will make that spray-tan agenda look just as tacky as it really is.