At other times, Mr. Trump has been more direct in telling his supporters to ignore the news.
“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” Mr. Trump said last July to a gathering at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.
Alex Woloch, an English professor at Stanford University who has written extensively about Orwell, said the United States was a long way from the world of “1984.”
“Orwell kind of represented this structure of political dishonesty,” Mr. Woloch said in an interview. “Luckily, we still have this feeling of uneasiness when a person in a position of authority, let alone the president, just says something that is blatantly not true and asks you to not believe your own eyes.”
In a television interview broadcast on Wednesday in Britain, Mr. Trump finally had an outlet for damage control over his duchess comments. Piers Morgan, a Trump-friendly personality, asked the president to explain the “nasty” confusion.
Mr. Trump responded by confirming what he had denied for days: The duchess was nasty about him, Mr. Trump said emphatically. But on Mr. Trump’s mysterious internal spectrum of assessing female nastiness, the duchess’s comments about him, while nasty, did not seem to amount to a terminal “nasty woman” sort of condition, one he had previously assigned to Hillary Clinton.
“I didn’t know that she said anything bad about me,” Mr. Trump said. “It sounds like she did and that’s O.K. I mean, hey, join the crowd, right?”
Mr. Trump then tried to absolve himself with the same snippet of audio that his critics have used for ammunition: “It’s actually on tape,” the president said, paraphrasing himself. “‘Wow, I didn’t know she was nasty.’”