No, we do not live under an authoritarian system, and there is no well-developed surveillance state or regime of censorship in America. But Donald Trump has developed and promoted two key concepts that produce much the same effect as authoritarian blindness: “fake news” and the “deep state.”

The point of the “fake news” concept is to describe information from any media not obsequiously friendly to the president as some kind of conspiracy intended to hurt him. Veteran reporter Lesley Stahl says Trump told her he uses the term “to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”

The point of the “deep state” concept is to describe information coming to the president from within the federal bureaucracy as a partisan conspiracy to overthrow him by means of a “coup.” (That’s the president’s word, not mine.) Thus, some of Trump’s prominent supporters dismissed a warning from a CDC official by spinning a conspiracy theory connecting her to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The practical effect of these two concepts is that they create a voluntarily accepted, self-induced authoritarian blindness, in which the administration and its circle of sycophants will accept no information from outside their bubble.