Ever pandering to the president’s shrinking but precious “base,” the Trump administration has apparently taken another giant step toward a George Orwell’s 1984-style “newspeak,” barring policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from using words and phrases the administration finds offensive. According to the Washington Post, CDC officials were told at a meeting last week that the following terms are now banned from use in documents and testimony – “fetus,” “entitlement,” “vulnerable,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
Like every authoritarian regime, this one longs to deny people ready and reliable access to the truth, making the task of peddling its self-serving propaganda – distortions of reality, if not outright lies – so much easier. What better way to advance this ignoble and anti-democratic cause than to ban not only specific medically accurate terminology (what is a fetus if not a fetus?), but reference to evidence and science itself? Once the means of discerning objective reality falls away, the “truth” can become whatever the regime says it is. At that point, Newt Gingrich’s 2016 comment on Trump will be proven truly prophetic – “[Trump] is going to be the executive producer of the American government and a huge TV show called ‘Leading the World.’”
The administration has worked tirelessly to melt away the distinction between facts and “fake news.” The assault on science and evidence at the CDC aims simultaneously to feed the base a few red meat scraps, and to speed up the melting. Welcome to Donald Trump’s “TV America,” a show that, like Big Brother’s TV screen in 1984, you can never turn off.