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Op-Ed Columnist: Trump’s Latest Lies — and His Media Machine

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Let’s connect four different news stories from the past 24 hours:

1. President Trump admitted in a filing that he did indeed reimburse his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for hush money paid to the porn actress Stormy Daniels. He had previously lied about the payment.

2. In testimony to Congress, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tried to downplay his father’s role in various aspects of the Russia scandal. Trump Jr. has previously lied about these same issues. Given the Trump family’s repeated lying, no one should put much stock in these new claims. They may be true, or they may be false.

3. In a graduation speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state, took an obvious swipe at Trump, his former boss.

“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom,” Tillerson said. “A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what truth is and is not, what a fact is and is not, and begin by holding ourselves accountable to truthfulness, and demand our pursuit of America’s future be fact-based.”

It’s a nice — and important — sentiment. But given how often Tillerson stood by silently while other members of the Trump administration told blatant lies, his indirect criticism now isn’t nearly sufficient. He should be brave enough to acknowledge whom he’s really talking about. (For more on Tillerson’s outstanding debt to the country, read Michelle Goldberg.)

4. Pro-Trump media outlets — many of which have little regard for truth — are spreading, Sara Fischer of Axios reports. These outlets include Salem Radio, Sinclair Broadcasting, Fox News and, Fischer writes, local websites promoting Republican candidates that are “intentionally framed to look like real news websites.”

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post notes that this pro-Trump media may become even more significant as the Russia investigation moves forward: “Trump’s ability to rely on an extensive media network that will back him to the hilt no matter what gives him an advantage that President Richard Nixon did not have during the climax of Watergate. As Fischer’s reporting indicates, we don’t really have a clear


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