You could almost forgive Mike Cernovich for believing, as he certainly seems to believe, that he can alter reality with his mind.
During the presidential campaign last year, Cernovich — the right-wing Trump superfan and self-proclaimed “mindset” expert — managed to convince himself, and a good number of voters, that Hillary Clinton was secretly suffering from some mystery ailment that left her perpetually close to death. When it turned out that she really was afflicted with pneumonia he wondered aloud if maybe, just maybe, she had caught it from a Tweet of his.
“What if we caused sick Hillary to have her coughing fit?” he wondered on his blog. “What if we manifested her health problems?”
These days, Cernovich seems to have lost a lot of his manifesting mojo, as this matched pair of headlines from his blog make abundantly clear.
Here’s the first, posted on Sunday:
And the second, posted a day later, after the Flynn who was in became Flynn the has-been:
So what had gone wrong? As Cernovich evidently sees it, Americans were insufficiently resolute in sacred duty of not believing the Washington Post.
Cernovich began his first post — the pre-resignation one — by mocking liberals who couldn’t understand why Flynn hadn’t yet been kicked to the curb.
“The world must seem like a confusing place to tens of millions of my fellow Americans,” Cernovich patronizingly declared. “Today you can’t understand why Trump has not fired General Flynn .. .”
The problem, he explained, was that these Americans think the stuff published in the Washington Post is true — even though, in a couple of recent cases, the Post got some things wrong!
Cernovich himself has concluded that since the Post got some stuff wrong, they are making up everything they say about Flynn. And everything else, for that matter.
“It’s not that I believe WaPo is biased or slants its coverage,” he wrote. “My sincerely held belief if that they make up stories and fabricate sources.”
Cernovich naturally offered no evidence to back up these beliefs of his, and neither of the problematic stories he cited earlier in his post involved “made-up stories” or imaginary sources. (In one case the Post gave a biased source more credibility than it perhaps deserved; in the other the reporter came to a false conclusion on a key point because they assumed something that turned out to not be true.)
Given how quickly the Flynn-who-was-in turned into a Flynn-on-the-outs, one might have expected Cernovich to show a little humility in his follow-up post, but in fact Cernovich showed none. Instead, he blamed Americans for believing the Washington Post too much.
Flynn’s resignation, he wrote, was a major victory for the Washington Post and the rest of what Cernovich sees as the “fake media” — the real enemy of Trump and all his footsoldiers.
“Tonight the fake news media landed a tactical nuke on America,” Cernovich declared, again offering no evidence of anything fake about it. While the forces of Trumpism had suffered “a major stategic defeat” that had cheered the “fake news media and so-called #TheResistance,” there was one thing true Americans could do to fight the media’s awful power.
They could simply stop believing it.
“Consider the source of the media’s power – it’s YOU,” Cernovich declared.
The media’s power is socially constructed. They do not have guns. They do not power of the purse. Their power comes from you.
When the media writes something negative on a candidate, you choose to believe it. You choose to act on that information. You have [sic] the people they tell you to hate, buy the products they tell you to consume, and vote for the candidates they endorse.
If we collectively agreed that the words in WaPo were a lie, they would lose all power.
It’s all a bit reminiscent of a story most of us will remember from our childhood. One involving a perpetual child named Peter and his little friend Tinkerbell, and a theater audience roused to clap to save the life of a fairy:
Her voice was so low that at first he could not make out what she said. Then he made it out. She was saying that she thought she could get well again if children believed in fairies.
Peter flung out his arms. There were no children there, and it was night time; but he addressed all who might be dreaming of the Neverland, and who were therefore nearer to him than you think: boys and girls in their nighties, and naked papooses in their baskets hung from trees.
“Do you believe?” he cried.
Tink sat up in bed almost briskly to listen to her fate.
Long story short: The audience claps, Tink lives, and gets a cultural trope named after her.
For better or worse, the real world doesn’t work the same way. Oh, sure, delusions have a shocking amount of power in politics. But the truth has a stubborn habit of reasserting itself, even if people like Mike Cernovich loudly denounce it as fake.
Trump managed to ride a wave of his own bullshit into office. But that wave is subsiding, and the truth is making itself heard again. That’s bad news for people like Flynn, and Cernovich, and (one can only hope) Trump.