Vehement and attacking denials

I watched the first of two episodes on the PBS news series “Frontline” regarding the NFL’s cover up of concussions being caused by the money-making game of professional football. Having seen Will Smith star as Dr. Bennett Omalu, the Nigerian born and well schooled forensic-pathologist, who broke the story in the movie “Concussion,” this show caught my eye.

In short, autopsies performed on several deceased players, who had died before age fifty, revealed recurring concussive brain injuries that led to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which caused dementia in these players. Yet, the NFL went out of its way to deny, denigrate and demonize this man and his findings. The NFL conducted its own studies and were able to get them published even when they did not measure up to scientific peer review standards. As a result more players got hurt. Eventually, the NFL settled a lawsuit for $1 Billion payable to the players. This settlement was upheld by the Supreme Court last December.

I mention this story as other entities have followed the vehement and attacking denial approach. You may recall the tobacco industry denied for years that nicotine was addictive, when they had studies in their files dating back to 1964 that told them it was. After years of denying other studies, often denigrating and demonizing the group doing the study, eight CEOs of tobacco companies testified under oath to a Congressional Committee that nicotine was not addictive. That bald face lie was too much for some and insiders began to tell the real story. In 1998, the big four tobacco companies agreed to a settlement with 46 state attorney generals for $206 Billion, payable over 25 years.

President Richard Nixon used a similar approach to attack The Washington Post, in particular Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, for their investigative reporting which linked the Watergate break-in to the White House and the detailed cover-up of various crimes. Nixon threatened them, the publisher and editor attacking their credibility. And, when Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox was getting too close, he had Cox fired, but only after the Saturday Night Massacre, when two of Cox’s superiors refused to fire him – Elliott Richardson and William Ruckelshaus – and resigned. While Nixon was pardoned after resigning, over twenty of Nixon’s staff went to jail.

Today, we have two entities that are following suit. Exxon Mobil has attacked critics and scientists for years on climate change using the same PR strategy and firm that the tobacco Industry used. Apparently, they did not read the ending. They dared scientists to look at their data. A Harvard group of scientists did and found that 83% of the scientific papers done by Exxon Mobil’s scientists confirmed that climate change is an existential threat and is man-influenced.

Not ironically, management’s public positions said the climate change science is unclear 81% of the time, the exact opposite conclusion. Exxon Mobil denigrated the Harvard scientists who just completed their work, but are failing to remember a current class action suit by employees and another by shareholders alleging the company is undervalued due to management’s misrepresentation of climate change impact. Right now, two state attorney generals and the SEC are investigating this very issue. If the AGs and SEC find Exxon Mobil did mislead shareholders, Exxon Mobil will be guilty of the crime of securities fraud.

The other entity is one Donald J. Trump, the current occupant of the White House. He has attacked everyone who dares criticize him or suggests that the Russians not only hacked the election, that he may have culpability in colluding with them. Trump says routinely and often the media is lying and consists of bad people. Senators, Congress members, and others, even from his own party, are met with some negative attack, if they dare be critical of him. Like Archibald Cox, there is a very capable Special Prosecutor named Robert Mueller who is investigating further into all the President’s men and women. Like these other entities, the attacks are vehement and brutal. Like these other entities, the stories seem to change as more details come out. And, like others, I believe the President is guilty of collusion. Why? His history, first and foremost, but if he was not guilty, why is acting so guilty?

So, the story line has yet to be written, but the more vehement, relentless and negative the attacks are and the more the denial stories change, the more likely the party doing the attacking is guilty.

21 thoughts on “Vehement and attacking denials

  1. Excellent post, Keith! I concur that there is too much smoke for there to not be a fire, and the biggest clouds of smoke are coming from the words and actions of the man in the Oval Office. A brighter man might realize that he is adding fuel to the fire, but for Trump, no deep thought processes … just act and react. My hope is that we soon see the end of this long, ugly tale.

    As for Exxon-Mobil, I believe at the end of the day, they will be found guilty also. I have long believed the company talked from both sides of their mouth. Profit over preservation of the earth, in their case, and power over people in Trump’s. Greed is at the core of both.

    • Thanks. Exxon Mobil used to encourage their scientists to talk openly to educate and then pulled back when they went into their PR hoax. Irrespective of what happens, their shareholders voted in May that management must apprise them of actions to prevent climate change.

      As for Trump, he has shown his guilt time and time again. I think it was Gronda reported on his attacking of GOP Congressional leaders includes his preferences on the Russian investigation. Keith

  2. I watched that PBS program as well. Denial is a powerful force in the hands of the powerful.
    Trump doesn’t give a damn. I am convinced that he flat out doesn’t care about the issues. He’s just basking in his moment of golden (in his blind eyes) glory and almost supreme power. And when anyone steps in the way of his swift sword, he’s ready to chop them off at the knees.

  3. It’s called “shoot the messenger” and it is designed to direct attention away from the problem — create a “red herring.” It is quite common and very effective. But with Trump it is exacerbated by the fact that this man is constitutionally incapable of admitting his own faults. I note a group of psychiatrists has drawn up a letter and sent it to Congress stating that this man is a clear and present danger. Indeed he is and given that Mitchell is fed up within (as are others in the Congress I must assume) something good may come of this. But the red herring will always be there!

    • Hugh, you are so right with the distraction. He spends a great deal of time on the art of distraction – just last night (he does many things on Friday night), he pardoned a law office for disobeying a court order, he ordered the military not to hire or support transgender people, and he fired a man he should have never hired. The statue discussion is a distraction from his tacit support of white supremacists. And, now he is trying to unload all of his problems onto McConnell – “it is his fault not mine.” Keith

  4. Hitler’s approach was at one cynical and dripping in contempt. He maintained to his inner circle that whereas the ordinary people would be able to spot a ‘small lie’. if you confronted them with one which was so large it overwhelmed their imagination they would accept it. Presumably this is the incumbent of the Whitehouse’s approach.
    And yet what true hold does he have? Can he throw people into prisons at his behest? Can he send out death squads on the dead of night? Just what are the top people afraid of? This shallow bag of bluster and ego. Just one brief line of expletives ending with ‘you’re all wind old man’, walk out and what the heck? Being cynical, you’d make enough money on the media circuit to make up for any loss of Whitehouse earnings.

    • Roger, your comment is fascinating. Trump’s biggest distraction are huge with no back-up. When he finally admitted that Obama was an American, a fake story to the contrary which he led and perpetuated, he said that the lie was first created by Hillary Clinton’s team.

      Unlike Hitler who you note could remove people that disagree with him, Trump cannot take criticism. As it mounts and mounts, he will become even further unhinged. Keith

      • Happened to Hitler too Keith.
        The weighty tome ‘The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich’ still has resonance

      • On this side of the ‘Pond’ we will be hoping and in my case praying for your deliverance

      • Roger, we do indeed pray “to deliver us from evil,” don’t we. Maybe Brexit can unwind the same time this man’s Presidency will. Keith

  5. Dear Keith,

    DDT knows enough to realize his end is near and despite all of his Machiavellian maneuvers, he cannot stop the train of doom heading his way.

    He is trying desperately to cater to his base in order to hang on to whatever power he still has. This explains his equating hate groups with those who oppose them; the military transgender ban; his pardon of Sheriff Arpaio; and so on. With these actions, he is digging his own grave.

    Hugs, Gronda

  6. Note to Readers: The modus operandi for this President is to attack the attacker not the issues. His goal is to demonize them, so as to get people to not believe what they say. The attacks tend to be very personal, which means to me his argument is poor.

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