Hours before President Donald Trump's former lawyer released an audio recording of Trump discussing a hush-money payment to a former Playboy model, the president uttered a phrase that critics said seemed ripped from the pages of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel 1984.
"It's all working out," Trump told a gathering of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Kansas City, Missouri. "Just remember: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."
Trump in Missouri: "It's all working out. Just remember: What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/pzeuyS0gPa
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 24, 2018
Journalists and observers immediately drew comparisons to a line from Orwell's book, which reads, "The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command."
Trump attacks press again as “fake news” & says: “What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."
This is Orwellian: in 1984, “the Party would announce that 2 and 2 made 5...the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied”
— Michiko Kakutani (@michikokakutani) July 25, 2018
"What you're seeing and what you're hearing is not happening."
This is Trump’s most explicit, extreme, blatant, rightening distortion & deception yet. Pure 1984 totalitarian gaslighting.
What you see is true, it is happening, and it is getting worse every day.
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) July 25, 2018
The remark was made as the president promoted his plan to hit China with new tariffs in an address that took on the form of a campaign speech. Trump's escalating trade war has resulted in rising costs for some products that farmers rely on, as China has responded to Trump's first round of tariffs introduced earlier this month.
"Don't believe the crap you hear from these people—the fake news," he said of reports of the negative impact of his trade policy.
It was just Trump's latest attack on the news media, which he has denounced as "really bad people" and "dishonest" and whose licenses he threatened to revoke last year, complaining of the news media's negative coverage of his presidency, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into his 2016 campaign's contacts with Russia.
In addition to negative coverage of his tariff proposals, whose impact he attempted to offset on Tuesday with $12 billion in emergency relief for farmers—a move that was dismissed by trade groups as "a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage caused by tariffs"—Trump is facing new questions over the tape his former attorney, Michael Cohen, released on Wednesday.
The president is heard apparently asking Cohen how much money is available to transfer to Karen McDougal, a former model who claims to have had an affair with Trump, in exchange for her story.
The tape was recorded during the 2016 campaign, offering new evidence that the president may have violated campaign finance laws.