Unfortunately, a more sinister interpretation better fits the facts. What Trump and his supporters are up to should be thought of not as a litigation campaign that is likely to fail, but as an information-warfare campaign that is likely to succeed—and, indeed, is succeeding already. More specifically, they are employing a tactic called “the firehose of falsehood.” This information-warfare technique, according to researchers at the RAND Corporation, is marked by “high numbers of channels and messages and a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions.”
After Russian agents poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in 2018, Kremlin-controlled media blamed Britain. And/or Ukraine. And/or it was an accident. And/or it was suicide. And/or it was a revenge killing by relatives. And/or Russia did not produce the nerve agent that was used. And/or an entirely different nerve agent was used. The Washington Post, which published a flowchart of Russia’s kaleidoscopic inventions, summarized what the propagandists were up to: “They fling up swarms of falsehoods, concocted theories, and red herrings, intended not so much to persuade people as to bewilder them.”
Unlike more traditional forms of propaganda, the firehose of falsehood does not aim primarily at persuading the public of something that is false (although this is a welcome result). Rather, it floods the information environment with so many lies, half-truths and theories that the public becomes disoriented, confused and distrustful of everyone.