Vladimir Putin is not merely the leader of Russia, “he’s king of reality,” and US President Donald Trump is attempting to copy the Kremlin’s methods in his efforts to control the American political narrative, according to journalist Masha Gessen, a leading practitioner of the resurgent art of Kremlinology.
Gessen examined the political tactics of Putin and Trump during a recent event in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hosted by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
Habitual lying by both Putin and Trump is a means to a political end. “We have to understand how Trump uses lies, how he uses language – which is weirdly similar to the way Putin uses lies and language – and that is to assert power,” Gessen said. “His [Trump’s] main goal is to assert his power over reality, which is a basic bully tactic.”
Citing the incredulity which greeted Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, Gessen said “the problem living in a degrading regime is that there are lots of points of no return” – things that once seemed outlandish become the new normal.
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Matthew Luxmoore is a journalist and a student at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.