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为什么特朗普能有恃无恐地说谎?

更新时间:2017-8-9 19:13:39 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Many Politicians Lie. But Trump Has Elevated the Art of Fabrication.
为什么特朗普能有恃无恐地说谎?

WASHINGTON — Whit Ayres, a Republican political consultant here, likes to tell his clients that there are “three keys to credibility.”

华盛顿——这里的共和党政治顾问惠特·艾尔斯(Whit Ayres)喜欢跟自己的客户谈论“可信度三要素”。

“One, never defend the indefensible,” he says. “Two, never deny the undeniable. And No. 3 is: Never lie.”

“第一,绝不为无可辩护的事情辩护,”他说。“第二,绝不对无可否认的事情加以否认。第三条是:绝不撒谎。”

Would that politicians took his advice.

但愿政客们采纳过他的建议。

Fabrications have long been a part of U.S. politics. Politicians lie to puff themselves up, to burnish their résumés and to cover up misdeeds, including sexual affairs. (See: Bill Clinton.) Sometimes they cite false information for what they believe are justifiable policy reasons. (See: Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam.)

不实之辞一向是美国政治的一部分。政客撒谎的目的可能是自我吹捧,可能是美化自己的简历,也可能是掩盖不检行为,其中包括风流韵事。(参见:比尔·克林顿[Bill Clinton]。)有时候他们会出于其眼中正当的政策原因,援引虚假信息。(参见:林登·约翰逊[Lyndon Johnson]与越战。)

But President Donald Trump, historians and consultants in both political parties agree, appears to have taken what the writer Hannah Arendt once called “the conflict between truth and politics” to an entirely new level.

但两党的历史学者和顾问一致认为,唐纳德·特朗普总统似乎让作家汉娜·阿伦特(Hannah Arendt)口中的“政治与真理的冲突”上升到了全新的高度。

From his days peddling the false notion that former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, to his inflated claims about how many people attended his inaugural, to his description just last week of receiving two phone calls — one from the president of Mexico and another from the head of the Boy Scouts — that never happened, Trump is trafficking in hyperbole, distortion and fabrication on practically a daily basis.

特朗普传播过前总统贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)出生于肯尼亚的虚假消息,夸大过出席其就职典礼的人数,就在上周还无中生有地描绘过自己接听的两通电话——一通来自墨西哥总统,另一通来自童子军负责人。他几乎每天都在散布夸张的陈述、扭曲的信息以及虚构的言辞。

In part, this represents yet another way that Trump is operating on his own terms, but it also reflects a broader decline in standards of truth for political discourse. A look at politicians over the past half-century makes it clear that lying in office did not begin with Trump. Still, the scope of Trump’s falsehoods raises questions about whether the brakes on straying from the truth and the consequences for politicians’ being caught saying things that just are not true have diminished over time.

某种程度上,这代表着特朗普在其任期内的另类行事方式,但也折射出政治话语真实标准的大范围下降。对过去50年间的政治人物做一番研究,你会清楚地发现,在任上撒谎之举并非始于特朗普。不过,特朗普的谎言所涉范畴之广引发了这样的疑虑:长期以来,意在防止偏离真相的约束性措施是不是被削弱了,政客撒谎被逮到的后果是不是不那么严重了。

One of the first modern presidents to wrestle publicly with a lie was Dwight D. Eisenhower in May 1960, when an U.S. U-2 spy plane was shot down while in Soviet airspace.

1960年5月,德怀特·D·艾森豪威尔(Dwight D. Eisenhower)成为最早在公众面前努力应对谎言问题的现代总统之一。当时,一架美国U-2侦察机在苏联领空被击落。

The Eisenhower administration lied to the public about the plane and its mission, claiming it was a weather aircraft. But when the Soviets announced that the pilot had been captured alive, Eisenhower reluctantly acknowledged that the plane had been on an intelligence mission — an admission that shook him badly, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said.

艾森豪威尔政府就这架飞机及其任务对公众撒了谎,说它是气象探测机。但当苏联宣布飞行员被活捉的消息时,艾森豪威尔很不情愿地承认,这架飞机当时正在执行情报搜集任务——承认撒谎让他极度心烦意乱,历史学者多丽丝·科恩斯·古德温(Doris Kearns Goodwin)说。

“He just felt that his credibility was such an important part of his person and character, and to have that undermined by having to tell a lie was one of the deepest regrets of his presidency,” Goodwin said.

“他觉得信用是自身品质的重要组成部分,因为不得不撒谎而让可信度严重受损,是他担任总统期间最后悔的事情之一,”古德温说。

In the short run, Eisenhower was hurt; a summit meeting with the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev collapsed in acrimony. But the public eventually forgave him, Goodwin said, because he owned up to his mistake.

从短期看,艾森豪威尔为谎言所累;他与苏联领导人尼基塔·赫鲁晓夫(Nikita Khrushchev)的高峰会晤在严厉的指责声中失败。但古德温说,公众最终原谅了艾森豪威尔,因为他承认了错误。

In 1972, at the height of the Watergate scandal, President Richard M. Nixon was accused of lying, obstructing justice and misusing the Internal Revenue Service, among other agencies, and resigned rather than face impeachment. Voters, accustomed to being able to trust politicians, were disgusted. In 1976, Jimmy Carter won the presidency after telling the public, “I’ll never lie to you.”

1972年,水门事件丑闻闹得轰轰烈烈之际,理查德·M·尼克松(Richard M. Nixon)总统被指撒谎、妨碍司法公正、不当调用国税局(Internal Revenue Service)等机构,他选择了辞职,而非直面弹劾。习惯于把政客当成可信任之人的选民对此非常气愤。1976年,吉米·卡特(Jimmy Carter)在告诉公众“我绝不会对你们撒谎”之后赢得总统大选。

Over the past two decades, institutional changes in U.S. politics have made it easier for politicians to lie. The proliferation of television political talk shows and the rise of the internet have created a fragmented media environment. With no widely acknowledged media gatekeeper, politicians have an easier time distorting the truth.

过去二十年来,美国政治的制度性变化使政客说谎变得更容易了。电视政治脱口秀的激增和互联网的兴起创造了一个碎片化的媒体环境。没有了受到广泛认可的媒体守门员,政客们便可以更轻易地歪曲真相。

And in an era of hyperpartisanship, where politicians often are trying to court voters at the extreme ends of the political spectrum, politicians often lie with impunity. Even the use of the word “lie” in politics has changed.

在一个极端党派偏见盛行的时代,政客们经常有恃无恐地说谎,力图讨好位于政治观点两极的选民。就连“谎言”这个词在政治中的用法也变了。

“There was a time not long ago when you could not use the word ‘lie’ in a campaign,” said Anita Dunn, once a communications director to Obama. “It was thought to be too harsh, and it would backfire. So you had to say they hadn’t been honest, or they didn’t tell the truth, or the facts show something else, and even that was seen as hot rhetoric.”

“就在不久之前,你还不能在竞选中使用‘谎言’这个词,”曾任奥巴马政府通讯联络主任的安妮塔·邓恩(Anita Dunn)说。“它被认为太过严厉,会产生适得其反的效果。所以你只能说:他们不诚实,他们没有说出真相,或者事实证明了其他东西,就连这样也会被认为是非常激烈的修辞。”

With the rise of fact-checking websites, politicians are held accountable for their words. In 2013, the website PolitiFact declared that Obama had uttered the “lie of the year” when he told Americans that if they liked their health care plan, they could keep it. (Trump won “lie of the year” in 2015.)

随着事实核查网站的兴起,政客们也开始要对自己的话负责任了。2013年,PolitiFact网站称,奥巴马说出了“年度最大谎言”——他告诉美国人,如果他们喜欢自己的医疗保健计划,就可以保留它。(2015年的“年度最大谎言”由特朗普获得。)

“I thought it was unfair at the time, and I still think it’s unfair,” Dunn said, referring to Obama. Obama later apologized to people who were forced off their plans “despite assurances from me.”

“我当时认为这不公平,我现在还是认为这不公平,”邓恩提到奥巴马的那句话时这样说。后来奥巴马向那些被迫放弃自己医疗保健计划的人道歉——“尽管我曾经向你们保证过。”

On the theory that politicians who get caught in lies put their reputations at risk, Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College (and contributor to The New York Times’s Upshot) and some colleagues tried to study the effects of Trump’s misstatements during last year’s presidential campaign.

达特茅斯学院(Dartmouth College)的政治学家布伦丹·尼汉(Brendan Nyhan,《纽约时报》Upshot栏目撰稿人)和几个同事假定,如果政客被发现说谎,就会有声誉受损的风险,他们试图以此为前提,研究特朗普去年竞选总统期间的错误陈述所产生的影响。

In a controlled experiment, researchers showed a group of voters a misleading claim by Trump, while another group saw that claim accompanied by “corrective information” that directly contradicted what Trump had said. The group that viewed the corrections believed the new information, but seeing it did not change how they viewed Trump.

在一个对照实验中,研究人员向一组选民出示了一个特朗普的误导性断言,并向另一组选民同时出示这个断言以及同特朗普的说法直接矛盾的“更正信息”。看到更正信息的小组相信新的信息,但是这并没有改变他们对特朗普的看法。

“We know politicians are risk averse. They try to minimize negative coverage, and that negative coverage could damage their image over time,” Nyhan said. “But the reputational consequences of making false claims aren’t strong enough. They’re not sufficiently strong to dissuade people from misleading the public.”

“我们知道政客厌恶风险。他们试图把负面报道减少到最低限度,随着时间的推移,负面报道有可能会而损害他们的形象,”尼汉说。“但是做出虚假断言并不能对政客的声誉产生足够的强烈影响,不足以阻止政客误导公众。”

Many of Trump’s lies — like the time he boasted that he had made the “all-time record in the history of Time Magazine” for being on its cover so often — are somewhat trivial, and “basically about him polishing his ego,” said John Weaver, a prominent Republican strategist.

特朗普的许多谎言多少有些鸡毛蒜皮——比如他吹嘘自己经常被《时代》报道,创下了“登上《时代》杂志封面的历史记录”;而且“基本上是他的自我美化,”共和党著名策略师约翰·韦弗(John Weaver)说。

That mystifies Bob Ney, a Republican former congressman who spent time in prison for accepting illegal gifts from a lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, and lying to federal investigators about it. “It really baffles me why he has to feel compelled to exaggerate to exonerate himself,” Ney said.

共和党前国会众议员鲍勃·奈(Bob Ney)对此大惑不解,他曾因接受来自游说者杰克·阿布拉莫夫(Jack Abramoff)的非法礼物,并就此向联邦调查人员说谎而入狱。“这真的让我感到困惑,为什么他非得那样夸张地宣称自己没有责任,”奈说。

But other presidential lies, like Trump’s false claim that millions of undocumented immigrants had cast ballots for his opponent in the 2016 election, are far more substantive and pose a threat, scholars say, that his administration will build policies around them.

但是总统的另外一些谎言呢,比如特朗普曾经错误地宣称,2016年的选举中有数百万无证移民为他的对手投票,学者们说,这些谎言要重要得多,而且已经构成了威胁——特朗普的政府将会围绕这些谎言制定政策。

The glaring difference between Trump and his predecessors is the sheer magnitude of falsehoods and exaggerations; PolitiFact rates just 20 percent of the statements it reviewed as true, and a total of 69 percent either mostly false, false or “Pants on Fire.” That leaves scholars like Goodwin to wonder whether Trump, in elevating the art of political fabrication, has forever changed what Americans are willing to tolerate from their leaders.

特朗普与前任们之间的明显差异在于,其谎言和夸张之辞的规模;PolitiFact对特朗普的言论进行了调查,并将其中20%归为真实,其余69%则被划为大部分虚假、虚假,或是“彻头彻尾的谎言”。这让古德温等学者开始思考:通过提升政治谎言的艺术,特朗普是否永久改变了美国人对领导人的容忍度。

“What’s different today and what’s scarier today is these lies are pointed out, and there’s evidence that they’re wrong,” she said. “And yet because of the attacks on the media, there are a percentage of people in the country who are willing to say, ‘Maybe he is telling the truth.'”

她说,“如今和以往不同、也更加可怕的一点是:这些话明明已经被指出是谎言,而且有证据表明它们是错的,然而,由于对媒体的攻击,整个国家里仍有一定比例的人会说,‘也许他是在说出真相。’”

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