A few weeks ago, I wrote about the disinformation many Fox News pundits were spreading about Donald Trump’s feud with Ted Cruz.
When an anti-Trump Super PAC released an ad featuring a nude photo of Melania Trump, the billionaire went ballistic, claiming Cruz knew all about it, and threatening to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife Heidi.
He then retaliated by retweeting a badly screen-grabbed image of Heidi Cruz next to a beautiful photo of his wife Melania. The text on the picture read:
“No need to ‘spill the beans.’ The images are worth a thousand words.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
It was a disgusting new low for Trump. Additionally, he had no evidence that Cruz had any involvement with the anti-Trump PAC (such a thing would be illegal), and there were no “beans” to spill about Heidi Cruz. It was all bluster.
Ted Cruz didn’t retaliate in kind. He defended his wife, telling Trump to “leave Heidi the hell alone.” He also tweeted the following:
Donald, real men don't attack women. Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life. https://t.co/pprXhIMzUT
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 24, 2016
“Your wife is lovely.”
In other words, Cruz didn’t jump into the gutter with Trump. Not even close. But for days, many commentators at Fox News continued to pound away at the idea that Cruz was involved in a gutter war with Trump.
Lou Dobbs said that “Cruz began the exchange with a Super PAC attack on the Donald’s wife, Melania.” Hannity made similar remarks on air–only later retracting them on Twitter. Greta Van Susteren tweeted:
Candidates love their supporting SuperPacs but then when SuperPacs go off rails, say "I didn't do it"
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) March 24, 2016
Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson and Mike Huckabee had the following exchange on Fox:
CARLSON: “The Trump versus Cruz controversy, each one saying ‘Your wife is unattractive. Mine’s better looking’…for our viewers trying to pick a side here. Who’s right? And who’s got the more virtuous position? What’s your view?”
HUCKABEE: “None of the above. Once you start getting the families and the wives into the fray, you’ve really taken the whole thing off the rails…The single most disgusting thing you ever deal with [as an office holder] is when your families get unfairly brought into a campaign…and whether it’s done by surrogates–that candidates can say ‘I had nothing to do with it’–or whether it’s some of the candidates themselves, this is simply something that ought to be off limits…”
CARLSON: “I remember when people affiliated with the Romney campaign went after your family in the ’08 election.”
These subtle lies are insidious–and I said as much before. They take root in the minds of voters. Dobbs, Hannity, Greta, and Carlson all smeared Cruz, failing to do what is essentially their only job–getting the most basic facts correct.
Now, their lies have metastasized.
During CNN’s town hall with the Cruz family, a student from Yeshiva University asked the following question:
“I originally wanted to vote for Marco Rubio, and unfortunately, we saw how that turned out. One of the reasons why though is because he was–he didn’t really engage in any personal attacks. Even when he did for that brief amount of time, he instantly regretted it. He said it was bad for his family.
I’m also aware that recently, there is a battle of the wives debate happening. And I understand that you might not exactly want to engage in this, and my question to you is: Do you believe that attacking somebody’s family personally is ok to gain a little more leverage in the political world? And if not, then would you be willing to make a truce with Mr. Trump right now?”
Cruz answered by explaining that “on [his] end, there’s no truce to be had.” He noted that he doesn’t respond to personal attacks in kind, and that he never insulted Melania in the first place. He went on to note that policy is where the debate should be.
Despite Cruz never having entered the gutter, despite Trump being the vulgarian bully, this truce question was still on the mind of a voter. It goes to show just how deeply people are influenced by bad reporting. The lies spread by Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, etc, have crept into the minds of voters, tainting their thought processes.
It’s critically important that you don’t believe everything that those who claim the mantle of conservatism say. This election cycle has revealed to us who the real constitutional conservatives are. Moreover, it’s shown us who the truth-tellers are, the actual journalists who care to get the facts right.
Don’t be like the student at the town hall. Know the facts of the case, and vote accordingly.