Episode: The Authoritarian's Playbook: Eroding Truth in America

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The Authoritarian's Playbook: Eroding Truth in America

As Donald Trump took the oath of office and became the 45th President of the United States, journalists’ role of covering the White House and the presidency was turned upside down. It started day one with the
inauguration and the very first press conference. 

Sean Spicer: “This was the largest audience to ever watch an inauguration, period. Both in
person and around the globe.”

The next day, on Meet the Press Kellyanne Conway stepped forward to defend the president’s exaggerations. She coined a phrase that would define the trump era.

Kellyanne Conway: “You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving, Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary, gave alternative facts to that.”

Politicians lie, they always have. But it seems to be a go-to strategy for the trump administration. From
dealing with an issue as serious as the president’s justification for firing FBI Chief James Comey, to something as trivial as the crowd size at his inauguration. 

But spreading disinformation has consequences...long-term consequences, which will shape how united these United States of America will actually be. How do we, as a nation, decide which truths are self-evident?

In a six-month reporting project titled Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, GroundTruth reporting fellows in India, Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Poland, Italy and the United States chronicled how seven nationalist leaders in each of these countries seem to be working from the same playbook. It is a playbook that can be pieced together from the speeches and techniques in use by an interconnected web of populist leaders and their strategists as a way to gain power, impose their values and implement their agenda. Scholars on democracy say they seem eager to join China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other leading authoritarian states in stamping out democratic protections and reshaping the global order.

Democracy Undone: The Authoritarian’s Playbook, A GroundTruth Podcast/Atlantic Magazine Collaboration

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