Oxford English Dictionary<“We are all now living in President Trump’s ‘kayfabe' [[Los Angeles Times]] . . . That’s a term from professional wrestling and ‘means presenting staged events as if they were real.’ Just as pro wrestlers stage colorful fake fights, Trump specializes in conjuring up illusions, or kayfabe, that he himself comes to believe so strongly that others believe it, too. This is his primary gift. Trump’s ‘demonization of the media as the enemy of the people,’ for example is mostly kayfabe. His summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un was entirely kayfabe, particularly Trump’s ridiculous claim that ‘there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.’ Trump’s staff tries to ignore him, but his rabid boosters ‘just go along with the act.’ When the ‘fake news’ inconveniently ‘breaks the fourth wall of kayfabe that what Trump says is not true, his followers simply shout ‘bias’ and cover their ears and eyes. As Trump told supporters at a rally last month: ‘What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening. ‘So what are those in the reality-based world to do? The only sane response is to see the kayfabe for what it is.’ Don’t overreact and don’t fall for the performance.’”—The Week, August 17/August 24, 2018>
kayfabe: noun [[also adjective and verb]] U.S. Slang: In professional wrestling: the fact or convention of presenting staged events, performances, and competitors' rivalries as if they were authentic or spontaneous. [[And this has been carried over as demonstrated in the above quote to situations other than wrestling.]]
Etymology: The word is thought to have originated as carnival slang for “protecting the secrets of the business”, and may ultimately originate from Pig Latin for “fake” (“ake-fay”) or the phrase “be fake” (“e-bay ake-fay”).
Kayfabe actually appears in very few dictionaries – not in Merriam-Webster Unabridged, nor in Dictionary.com, nor in Meriiam-Webster.com, nor in FreeDictionary.org, nor in The American Heritage Dictionary, nor in . . .
The following quotes are from The Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1988 “The heels were told to stay away because of kayfabe violations, but few listened to the order.”— Wrestling Observer Newsletter Yearbook, page 81/2>
<1995 "Kayfabe, pro wrestling's code of secrecy in never revealing that pro wrestling is scripted.”—Los Angeles Times, 6 August, page 10>
<2009 “On the band's latest album, ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ - its second full-length release in 2008 - they sing ‘We're feeling so much more content knowing where our allegiances lie / Since our kayfabe friends have upped and left, you and I.’—The Capital Times (Madison Wisconsin), 5 February>
<2012 “Early in the book, Edison defines ‘kayfabe’ as an ‘old carny word’ that describes the circus and porn industry’s illusion that everything you see is real."—The Washington Post (D.C.), 8 January>
<2017 “But the discord in the debate -- real or kayfabe -- shows the divisions in Maine's two major political parties . . .”—Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)
<2018 “President Trump’s demonization of the media as the ‘enemy of the people’ is mostly kayfabe.”—Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), 8 August>
Ken Greenwald – August 12, 2018