When the definitive history of Donald Trump’s presidency comes to be written, many years hence, 11.02am on Sunday 19 August 2018 will surely be granted a special mention.
It was the moment when the phrase was coined that might be said to sum up the spirit of the Trump era: “Truth isn’t truth.”
Truth isn’t truth. The seismic shock of the remark was so forceful it had Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, struggling to contain his giggling.
“Truth isn’t truth? Mr Mayor, do you realize … I mean, this is going to become a bad meme.”
The Mr Mayor to whom he was referring, creator of the bad meme, was Rudy Giuliani, legendary New York mayor on 9/11. Now Trump’s attorney on the Russia investigation, he was trying to justify why the White House has been dragging its feet over granting an interview between the president and special counsel Robert Mueller.
Giuliani said: “When you tell me [Trump] should testify because he’s going to tell the truth so he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth.”
“I don’t mean to…” Todd spluttered, his face contorted with disbelief.
And then it came, like manna from heaven, the glorious mantra for which Trump’s White House has been waiting so long.
“No, it isn’t truth!” Giuliani roared. “Truth isn’t truth.”
In a world that has given us “fake news”, “enemy of the people” and – infamously and also to a disbelieving Todd – Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts”, Trump’s war on reality had just found its jingle.
“No, no, don’t do this to me,” Giuliani said, head in hands, when he realized the hole he had dug for himself.
“Don’t do ‘Truth isn’t truth’ to me,” Todd replied, still scarcely holding it together.
At which point, Giuliani did the only thing that came to mind: he dug deeper, into competing versions of events regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Russia and fired FBI director James Comey.
“Donald Trump says, ‘I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey’, Comey says, ‘You did talk about it’. So tell me what the truth is, you’re such a genius.”
Chuck Todd may not be a genius. But he was smart enough not to answer the question.
He just sat back, still bearing a broad grin, and let the new bad meme soar into the digital firmament.
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