US Steel Is Not Opening Any New Plants

Julian Stratenschulte/DPA via ZUMA

I suppose the headline to this post seems like non-news. Lots of companies aren’t opening new plants, after all. Why single out US Steel?

You can guess the answer: because for the past month Donald Trump has been claiming that they’re opening six or seven new plants. This is ridiculous, of course. Why not a hundred plants? Or a thousand?

There’s no telling. But what’s interesting here is not that Trump is making up random shit. He does that all the time. The interesting thing is that US Steel’s CEO, Dave Burritt, is terrified of contradicting him. Glenn Kessler explains:

One would think this would be easy to clear up. But the White House did not respond to a query. Burritt also did not respond to an email from The Fact Checker asking him to confirm the conversation. Meghan M. Cox, U.S. Steel’s spokeswoman, simply offered this response: “To answer your question, we post all of our major operational announcements to our website and report them on earnings calls. Our most recent one pertained to our Granite City ‘A’ blast furnace restart.”

Translation: The president is wrong. But apparently U.S. Steel is afraid to say that out loud.

This is the point of Trump’s bluster and his threats and his Twitter rants. By scaring everyone into silence, he’s basically scaring them into complicity. If CEOs and Republican politicians are afraid to challenge him; the mainstream media mostly produces he-said-she-said thumbsuckers; and Fox News and the conservative noise machine loudly back up his lies—then why wouldn’t most people believe him? People like me can yell and scream all we want, but people like me are just partisan hacks, right? We’re only mad because we’re out of power.

I’l have more about this later backed up by some deep investigative reporting (aka lunch with a friend yesterday).