Accuracy in Media

Its bid to remove President Donald Trump from office over Ukraine fading, Salon has returned to a more familiar tactic to get the president removed – trying to establish that he is mentally ill and unfit for the office.

In June, it was Bandy Lee, a psychiatrist at Yale University, who “convened experts,” Salon wrote in a headline at the time, to diagnose the president from afar and conclude he “can no longer see reality.”

This week, the same writer, Chauncey Devega, is back with another shrink, psychologist John Gartner, who declared, like Lee without ever meeting or talking to the president, that “Deep inside, Donald Trump is a very empty and sad person” and that he is on an “impeachment-fueled ‘hypomanic episode’ which could be ‘catastrophic.’”

And that’s just from the headline.

Devega starts with a broad brush. “Despite the obsessive efforts of Trump’s Republican Party minions, his personal spokespeople and the right-wing disinformation media, the facts are clear: Multiple witnesses independently report that Donald Trump abused the power of the presidency for personal gain in an effort to bribe and extort the president of Ukraine into aiding his re-election campaign,” Devega wrote.

He called the tweet about former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch “a textbook example of witness intimidation” and wrote that the walls are closing in, but not too seriously yet.

“Donald Trump is not acting like late-stage Richard Nixon – yet,” he wrote. “The latter raged and wandered about the White House in a drunken state during the climax of the Watergate impeachment saga. But as the impeachment process moves forward, there are indications that Trump is spiraling out of control and his closest aides are apparently unable to control him.”

Trump has lived “almost his entire adult life without restraints on his behavior,” a statement that applies to most adults. But the stress of the impeachment process and the growing sense 2020 will be a referendum on his “deeply unpopular presidency” – Trump polled at 48 percent Wednesday on Rasmussen, about the level Barack Obama was at this point in his first term  — “are forcing a man who has already shown himself to be mentally unwell into a steep decline, perhaps into psychotic behavior.”

He interviewed Gartner, a co-founder of the group Duty to Warn, which has made its mission to “raise awareness about the danger to the United States and the world posed by Donald Trump,” co-author of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” and author of a USA Today op-ed that argued “Trump’s rash Syria move looked like a ‘hypomanic episode.’”

Gartner told Devega impeachment “will force the president to act out in even more dangerous and unpredictable ways” and explained how “Trump’s malignant narcissism manifests itself trough sadistic pleasure, which may even be sexual in nature.”

Gartner also “considers what will happen to Trump’s followers and their ‘fascist fever’ when Trump is eventually no longer president of the United States.”

Yet, Gartner’s main complaint with Trump seems similar to those voiced by witnesses at the House impeachment inquiry – that he makes up his own mind and is not bound by the opinions of others, even close advisers.

“Their grandiosity, their narcissism, their paranoia, conspiracy theories, sociopathy, criminal behavior and sadism all go into overdrive when they get power,” Devega wrote, summarizing Gartner’s remarks.

This creates a feedback loop when they gain power, which “inflames their narcissism and their paranoia and their freedom to act on their criminal impulses.” This creates “opposition and resistance.”

Narcissists such as Trump then “demonize and try to brutalize and invalidate anyone who does not kiss his ring. Trump has systematically eliminated every single guardrail on his power and behavior in the White House. There is literally nobody, not one person, who can tell him ‘no’ right now, intervene against him.”

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