If there is one trait that Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia share over all others, it is their understanding of the power of separating facts from truth. By denying known and provable facts — as when Mr. Trump denies making statements he has made — or by rejecting facts that are not publicly known, as with the C.I.A.’s information on Russian hacking, Mr. Trump exercises his ever-growing power over the public sphere. The resulting frenzy of trying to prove either the obvious known facts or the classified and therefore unknowable facts — two fruitless pursuits — creates so much static that we forget what we are really talking about.
Let us imagine the conversation we would be having if we were not preoccupied with Mr. Trump’s denial of the C.I.A.’s conclusions. We would now be discussing the appropriate response to the hacking. We would be talking about consequences for the American electoral process in general and for the results of this election in particular. We would be asking why it matters if Russia’s hacking efforts were intended to benefit Mr. Trump. But in the heat of arguing about facts, journalists and pundits have acted as though the answers to these questions are obvious. They are not.
Masha Gessen, “How the Truth Got Hacked”, The New York Times (18 December 2016), SR4.