“It’s not that there haven’t been deceptive presidents or sneaky campaigns or nefarious duplicity and deception in American history,” historian Jill Lepore told me. “But the sort of systematic, epistemological crisis that we’re in now––there really isn’t anything like it.”
Lepore, a professor of history at Harvard, staff writer at The New Yorker, and author of several books, was explaining how, with the rise of 48 million fake accounts on Twitter and the development of fake news, we live in an unprecedented time in terms of the stability of our democracy. Lepore has been analyzing and interpreting history for decades, and her most recent book––These Truths: A History of the United States––is a comprehensive and insightful political history of America.
Lepore did not mince words, calling Trump’s presidency a “failure”––saying that considered in the context of U.S. presidencies, his has demonstrated a “staggering level of misconduct”––and, more than once, referring to our current political moment as “standing on the edge of a cliff.”
I spoke to Lepore about how she sees our current moment in the context of history, how our country became so polarized, and why she sees Phyllis Schlafly as one of the most “underappreciated” women in the conservative movement, and other current issues.
Here is our conversation, edited for length and clarity.
Read the interview here.