Reality. It used to seem so simple—reality just was, like the weather. Why question it, let alone disagree about it? And then came the assault, an unending stream of “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and lies disguised as truths that is overwhelming our notions of reality. Now we can’t even agree on what a fact is, let alone what is real. How on earth did we get here?
Every week, the award-winning journalist Brooke Gladstone, along with her co-host Bob Garfield, reaches 1.2 million listeners through more than 420 NPR affiliate stations with WNYC Studios' On the Media, a shrewd and witty newsmagazine that analyzes media and how it shapes our perceptions of the world. With her front-row perch on the day’s events and genius for making insightful, rapid-fire connections, Gladstone is ideally suited to explain The Trouble with Reality.
Reality, as she shows us, was never what we thought it was—there is always a bubble, people are always subjective and prey to stereotypes. And that makes reality more vulnerable than we ever thought. Enter Donald J. Trump and his team of advisors. For them, as she writes, lying is the point. The more blatant the lie, the easier it is to hijack reality and assert power over the truth. Drawing on writers as diverse as Hannah Arendt, Walter Lippmann, and Jonathan Swift, she dissects this strategy straight out of the authoritarian playbook and shows how the Trump team mastered it. She analyzes Trump’s preferred method of communication—Twitter— and the various types of Trump’s tweets including the “diversion tweet,” the “trial balloon tweet," the “deflection tweet.”
And she offers hope—the inevitable reckoning history tells us we can count on—and a way to recover both our belief in reality and our sanity.