In late 2015, Time Magazine riled Donald Trump by passing him over as person of the year in favor of Angela Merkel – or the “person who is ruining Germany,” as Mr. Trump called her in a subsequent tweet.
He should be much happier with the magazine’s current cover. “Is Truth Dead?” it asks. The issue contains an interview with the U.S. president, in which he reveals in detail how he cobbles together his private reality unencumbered by facts.
The German government is also struggling to separate fact from fiction in a world increasingly influenced by that reality. The spin on Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Washington is a case in point. As Ms. Merkel flew home, her staff still thought things had gone better than expected. Then Mr. Trump tweeted that the meeting with Ms. Merkel was fantastic, but Germany owed the United States huge sums for America’s “very expensive” defense spending.
The claim was easy to refute: NATO doesn’t operate with promissory notes. Yet Britain’s Sunday Times reported soon after that Mr. Trump had given Ms. Merkel a written invoice for $340 billion (€319 billion), retroactively citing insufficient German defense expenditures and even billing for interest. Its source? A member of Ms. Merkel’s cabinet.