The Atlantic

How Trump Sows Confusion and Doubt

The president avoids outright denials of inconvenient facts, preferring to cast doubt through innuendo and misdirection.
Source: Carlos Barria / Reuters

Why do reporters keep asking President Trump whether he accepts that Russia interfered in the 2016 election? The shortest answer is that he keeps giving interesting answers. During a press conference in Warsaw Thursday, NBC’s Hallie Jackson asked the question once more.

On its face, Trump’s rambling answer was almost incoherent, or at least, self-contradictory. Read closely, however, it illuminates a pattern. When Trump wants to rebut a charge, he seldom flatly denies it. Instead, he generally prefers to sow doubt, skillfully stressing uncertainties to obfuscate and muddy the issue.

In the case of Jackson’s question in Warsaw, Trump he starts off by half-heartedly accepting the premise, then quickly moving to undermine it by injecting the possibility of other actors. Notably, he doesn’t name them, presumably because he has no evidence. Then he finishes with an indisputably true statement—lots of countries interfere in elections—which seems to cast doubt

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