On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted three videos purportedly showing Muslims committing acts of violence against Christians. He did so despite the fact that the videos came from a far-right, anti-Muslim group in Britain and remain unverified.
Which is all beside the point, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
"Whether it is a real video, the threat is real," Sanders told reporters Wednesday morning. "That is what the President is talking about, that is what the President is focused on is dealing with those real threats, and those are real no matter how you look at it."
When pressed on the difference between the videos being real or fake, Sanders replied, "I'm not talking about the nature of the video. I think you're focusing on the wrong thing. The threat is real, and that's what the President is talking about."
Yes. She really said that. The official spokesperson for the White House said that whether or not videos depicting violence committed by Muslims are actually real is beside the point. And that by focusing on whether the videos are real, reporters are "focusing on the wrong things."
Here's Sanders' argument in simpler terms: The end justifies the means. We know that Muslims commit acts of violence and hate the West. So, whether or not the actions depicted in these videos are real doesn't actually matter. They are a symbol of something that is real.
Which is, of course, a) ridiculous and b) dangerous.
It's controversial enough for Trump to use his bully pulpit -- and his massive Twitter following -- to pass around videos that seek to paint an entire religion with a broad, negative brush. "These are people who want to get you and we need to get them first!" is the unmistakable message Trump is sending by passing on videos like these.
To do so when no one knows whether or not the videos have been edited, doctored or faked entirely is beyond the pale. This is classic leap-before-you-look-ism. It's not great in any circumstance. It's even worse when it's the President of the United States seeking to use the videos to prove a point about the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorists.
But -- and I didn't even think this was possible -- Sanders actually made what Trump did worse! The veracity of the videos doesn't matter, she argued. The point is how the videos make people feel!
In an administration made famous/infamous by "alternative facts" and a near-daily assault on truth, Sanders' assertion fits right in. Trump has made clear -- on more than 1,600 occasions since being sworn in as President -- that facts are to be ignored when they don't fit your preferred narrative.
None of what Sanders said, then, should be surprising. And yet, her brazenness in asserting that fake and real is a meaningless distinction is stunning. Truly. Chris Cillizza,