A Democrat’s guide to John Miller, Donald Trump’s liar-in

From William F James’s ‘misery memoir’ to a fictional argument about elitism, Stephen Miller has taken the most common political lie and twisted it to serve his agenda Donald Trump’s political rise stands as…

A Democrat’s guide to John Miller, Donald Trump’s liar-in

From William F James’s ‘misery memoir’ to a fictional argument about elitism, Stephen Miller has taken the most common political lie and twisted it to serve his agenda

Donald Trump’s political rise stands as a cautionary tale about the value of the open, empirical and fact-based journalism that is supposed to exist in a democracy. Evidence is only selectively aired or excused in Trump’s America. The truth doesn’t matter, only how much Trump will like it.

If the press goes this route, it’s entirely plausible that Trump could grow into a one-term president – and that could end up being as good as it gets for America’s oldest democracy. In the wake of one of the most brazenly dishonest presidential elections in American history, then, we should expect journalists to take their jobs seriously and indulge in fact-checking.

Several factors all point to John Miller writing a great political book one day. He is the scion of one of Washington’s most powerful political families, his father a senator and politician, his older brother Martin an intelligence official and high-ranking Republican. John is a Harvard-educated social historian whose first job was as a director at Historica International, the struggling Dictator’s Muse website created by the father of fascist dictators. Now an adviser on Trump’s senior staff, Miller is his boss’s most trusted supporter, a champion of government surveillance and a favorite target of press criticism for his fealty to the most obscure bigotries.

It is wrong to think of Miller as merely a “face” who controls Trump’s message. When Miller began working on the Trump campaign in January 2016, he had already written speeches for Ronald Reagan and won admirers at a conservative conference, the Grand Rapids Tea Party.

I spent the summer writing the book with him, eating beer and talking to the eerily young-looking Miller as we stalked along the halls of the Capitol. Once we reached DC, he entertained me for days, told personal stories from his childhood and emerged from his bubble once or twice to talk about his burgeoning career as a political writer. Most White House books are written by reporters, party apparatchiks or senior aides. But Miller’s book has the appearance of a deeply personal narrative based entirely on anecdotes, anecdotes that spring from a best-selling memoir or detail from the second half of a college paper. Miller himself told me this campaign was his way of setting the record straight.

In advance of Trump’s election in 2016, Miller was already immersed in the story of Donald Trump’s stolen election, as told by a fictional character he describes as “the loser”, Adam McGill. A New Yorker writer who yearned to get into a top law firm, McGill worked in the thinktank world and was in a relationship with a powerful woman, Diana Pomreanu.

We get the story of a lost election in two parts. In part one, McGill and Pomreanu have just emerged from a Facebook ad dispute, one of the countless cases where hostile people can be funded in a night to attack a news outlet and win thousands of new followers. These ads don’t mention the losers by name, but they mimic the style of the coverage with which advertisers were typically judged. “The media was virulently anti-Trump and what this money did was basically muzzle them and give them a decent amount of daylight,” McGill tells Miller.

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With that fight resolved, McGill’s story returns to its center with the Trump campaign and its media circus. Most fascinatingly, McGill’s study becomes a case study of how the myth of a stealable election was invented. First, McGill struggles to get an interview with a Trump staffer, saying he is “a rogue and out of control” who has done “something incredibly wrong”. Then he “evolves” into a role as the Trump campaign’s media manager, suggesting that McGill was happy to settle his lawsuit through a media campaign – a transformation of his tactics that is nothing less than astonishing, given McGill’s shady history as a reporter.

His campaign is a timeline of lies and deceit about an actual debate about the legitimacy of the election and the American political system. Things get weirder with every turn.

Before McGill gets to Trump’s campaign events, we meet in the basement of his upscale Washington apartment, where Miller is having an early morning book party. Two white women in black dresses serve as hosts, one

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