Since Trump took office, it seems like the media exposes new administration falsehoods – little lies to big whoppers – virtually every day.
Inauguration crowd sizes. Porn star hush payment details. The origin of misleading statements on meetings with Russians. FBI spies on his campaign. The Philadelphia Eagles team "taking a knee" (they didn't). The list goes on and on and on and on.
It's infuriating, for sure, and it degrades the office, the country and its citizens. But it most definitely has purpose – 1) solidify the Trump base and 2) distract the rest of us from our own agenda.
While it might seem counterintuitive, his supporters dig in even deeper when the latest lie is exposed in the mainstream media because they view it as their duty to defend Team Trump (the classic us vs. them approach). It's about identity and making them feel that they belong to an important movement.
And from the administration's point of view, it's useful to throw out a number of outrageous, shiny objects for reporters and resistance fighters to distract from ruthlessly efficient dismantling the federal government that is happening in Washington, DC and around the country. The more he bashes NFL players, the more his supporters think "right on, gotta stand for 'Murica" and the more the rest of us obsess about the outrageous cluelessness about unfair policing in minority communities.
All this begs the question: Does the truth even matter anymore?
At the risk of being accused of being overly optimistic, my answer is yes – and not just because Trumpistas make up just 30% of the electorate with no hope for growth. And I'll admit that it definitely makes me feel better believing there are still norms we can count on in communications. But more than that, I'd like to think that the last several months of electoral wins have come in for candidates taking a firm stance against constant dissembling and divisive policies – even in areas where the Orange One won big in 2016.
But the truth alone isn't going to persuade our audiences because humans make decisions based on emotion, not reason; even though we say our choices are rational, years of neuroscience tells us otherwise. We're big believers in crafting messaging that encompasses shared values (to capture the gut), a clear problem (to engage the heart) and an obvious solution (to invite the brain) to move audiences through the know-->care--do continuum.
So yes, the truth matters – but how you tell the truth matters, too. Make your audience feel the truth in addition to knowing it in order to win, whether it's at the legislature, the ballot box or your next event.