BOB GARFIELD: From WNYC in New York, this is On the Media. Brooke Gladstone is out this week. I’m Bob Garfield.
We begin with a shocking development. The Trump administration has been caught in lies.
FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: What did he know and when did he know it? White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is under scrutiny for his handling…
FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: Bottom line, my sources say John Kelly lied and turned his team into liars--without--them--knowing.
MALE CORRESPONDENT: Sarah Sanders is either lied to or she is willingly lying to the American people. How do they put this behind them?
BOB GARFIELD: Another week, another fiasco, a top White House official, Rob Porter, shamed out of his job by spousal abuse allegations the administration knew about for many months but did not act upon and clumsily tried to cover up.
[PRESS BRIEFING CLIPS]:
QUESTION: …Raj, when the White House first became aware of these allegations?
RAJ SHAH: Well, I know there’s been some reports about the chief of staff. He became fully aware about these allegations yesterday.
QUESTION: You said fully aware. Was he partially aware?
QUESTION: Is the White House still maintaining that John Kelly really had no idea about these allegations of domestic abuse until this story broke?
SARAH SANDERS: I can only give you the best information that I have, and that’s my understanding.
BOB GARFIELD: Then there was the hush money to a woman
whose working name is Stormy Daniels, a story denied for weeks.
MALE CORRESPONDENT: A former Trump lawyer released a letter signed by Stormy Daniels denying the story. It says, “Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false.”
BOB GARFIELD: And now finally admitted to.
MALE CORRESPONDENT: Another giant story developing overnight, the president's personal lawyer confirms that he paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000.
BOB GARFIELD: When an administration so often demonstrably lies, from inauguration crowds to supposed millions of illegal presidential voters, how-ever to know when tugging a thread will reveal a damning truth, not just the latest embarrassment but an unraveling? Maybe, maybe the answer is when the truth has immediate consequences. When FBI Director Christopher Wray disputed the administration's timeline on the Rob Porter affair during an unrelated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing earlier this week, Republican Trey Gowdy launched an investigation. This is Trey Gowdy of Benghazi hearings notoriety, not exactly a Democratic stooge.
TREY GOWDY: Who knew what, when and to what extent and, if you knew it in 2017, and the Bureau briefed them three times, then how in the hell was he still employed…
BOB GARFIELD: Gowdy is fixing to tug at the very thread that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's job is hanging by, during which process the rest of the cover-up is apt to be laid bare.
On the Stormy Daniels matter, Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, is now at pains to explain why he paid $130,000 just before the 2016 election to squelch a brewing scandal about a porn actress and Donald Trump and who might have reimbursed Cohen for his outlay. His latest explanation, ironically enough, is he was paying to suppress a lie. This is CNN Correspondent MJ Lee quoting Cohen:
MJ LEE: He said, “Just because something isn't true doesn't mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.”
BOB GARFIELD: This confession, according to the New York Times, began with a lawsuit that obliged Cohen to submit an official declaration to the Federal Elections Commission. And of official declarations, official questions inevitably flow. ‘Til now, notably in the matter of the June 16th Trump Tower meeting with Russian emissaries, the Trump administration has heaped lie upon lie to try to stay ahead of new revelations, something like a Ponzi scheme, requiring ever-new infusions of cash to cover the most recent false promises. But the pace eventually becomes unsustainable and the truth claims casualties.
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This week, we look at the messiness of truth and its manipulation by governments, by righteous movements and even by the most tragically victimized individuals, with various motives but all ultimately for the purpose of controlling the narrative. It is far too soon to know if the Trump Administration has, shall we say, lost the thread but, as we shall see, such struggles to influence public perception are to be found everywhere.
Coming up, you want to portray a scourge of undocumented desperados? Have the press do it for you.
GABY DEL VALLE: If you look at these I.C.E. press releases, it will be like, “murderer deported, child molester deported, person who served in a foreign army and killed all these kids deported,” but it’s never like, we deported somebody’s mom.