Donald Trump has had countless occasions over the last three years to prove that he is presidential. With few exceptions, he’s blown them all.
During the campaign, he twiddled his thumbs while his most diehard supporters harassed and trolled anyone who dared criticize him. He also condoned violence at his rallies. We have since found out that he at the very least fostered an environment in which it was remotely acceptable for senior campaign aides to solicit a hostile foreign power for dirt on his opponent.
It’s been more of the same since he took office. He claimed there was “blame on both sides” in Charlottesville when one of those sides was made up of Nazis and white supremacists. He used harsher language for peaceful protesters than for racist thugs who murdered an innocent woman and have continued to relentlessly harass her family. He openly declared that a man credibly accused of molesting women and girls was more suitable for the Senate than “a liberal person.” And of course, he referred to dark-skinned countries as “shitholes.”
Well, add another entry to the list. In response to the growing furor over his campaign’s ties to a data analytics firm that stole gigabytes of personal information from Facebook users, Trump decided to take a victory lap.
With apologies to Keith Olbermann, it has been amply established that Cambridge Analytica is the Worst Company in the World. The firm pilfered private information from 50 million Facebook users via bogus personality quizzes, then used that data to microtarget potential Trump voters. Let’s call this for what it was–large-scale spamming spurred by invasion of privacy on a massive scale.
We have since learned just how low Cambridge Analytica was willing to go in order to help its chosen candidates. The UK’s Channel 4 News caught Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix boasting of the underhanded tactics his firm used on politicians it targeted for opposition research. Watch here.
Nix claimed that Cambridge Analytica entrapped politicians in compromising situations by sending in Ukrainian sex workers and catching the encounters on tape. He also revealed that Cambridge Analytica fronts would offer “a large amount of money” to finance a candidate’s campaign, then post the video online.
Another Channel 4 story revealed Cambridge Analytica officials bragging about how they essentially took over Trump’s social media operation–and may have engaged in tactics that broke American election law. Watch here.
Mark Turnbull, the managing director of CA Political Global, revealed that his firm had created a series of ads attacking Hillary Clinton. Those ads were bankrolled by the pro-Trump super PAC Make America Number 1. Election law does not allow campaigns to coordinate with outside groups.
Soon after this shocking story aired, Cambridge Analytica suspended Nix pending an internal investigation. Investigators on both sides of the Atlantic are demanding answers as well. Facebook has also kicked Cambridge Analytica off its platform, saying that Cambridge Analytica likley used the stolen data even after certifying that it had been deleted.
And yet, how did Trump see fit to respond?
Remember when they were saying, during the campaign, that Donald Trump is giving great speeches and drawing big crowds, but he is spending much less money and not using social media as well as Crooked Hillary’s large and highly sophisticated staff. Well, not saying that anymore!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018
Really, Mr. Trump? You’re bragging about working with a firm that was caught on tape admitting that it entrapped candidates? You’re bragging about a firm that appears to have admitted to a flagrant violation of election law? Is winning that important to you, sir?
If you were a real leader, Mr. Trump, you would have said something like this.
“The conduct detailed in recent reports about Cambridge Analytica is completely unacceptable, and possibly criminal. I have directed my campaign to delete any and all data gleaned from Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 cycle, and to also take steps to ensure that this is not repeated again in 2020.”
But considering what we’ve seen from Trump since he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower, that may have been too much to ask.
Once again, we have proof that the White House is occupied by a man who has a fundamentally warped moral compass–if he has one at all.
(featured image courtesy Matt A. Johnson, available under a Creative Commons-BY license)