The basic logic that would appear obvious at any other point in time is suddenly not. It is lost in a sea of buzzwords like “post-truth” and “misstatements”. In reality, what we have is much simpler. Lies versus truths. This is not opinions versus facts. The number of people who attend an event is not an opinion. Whether one crowd is larger than another is not an opinion. It is a lie versus a truth.
I argue the press corps has not changed very much over the years. The press itself has evolved, with the advent of the internet. Push notifications and customized news feeds have led to increased sensationalized journalism. More talking heads and fewer true news people has skewed reporting to the left and to the right. Separating real journalism from biased, puff pieces is not always easy. Once you do, though, true journalists are still true journalists. We have people like Matthew Dowd, Sopan Deb, David Fahrenthold, Daniel Dale, Maggie Haberman, Katy Tur, etc. None of them had any problems with Obama, and none of their predecessors had issues with Bush. In fact, no president in my lifetime has had a significant problem with the press.
Once you realize this, it is a simple matter of deciding who to believe. Do you believe the ones who have a record of being truthful, with no ongoing problems with either a Republican or a Democratic administration? Or do you believe the outsider who had complaints about the press before he arrived, throughout his campaign, and then once he was elected?
Is this difficult for anyone at all to answer? Yes, I know the press makes mistakes sometimes, but they generally correct them. I get frustrated with them myself, when I feel like they aren’t covering what (I think) they should be, or they are allowing guests to get away with more than (I think) they should. But none of that falls under lying, or even misrepresenting, the truth. And I see them improving. Chryons now contain real time fact-checking, reporters run daily lists of Trump lies, on-air journalists are getting tougher with guests. The Trump campaign is not making any visible effort to improve anything.
Saturday, Sean Spicer yelled at reporters for accurately reporting the number of attendees at the inauguration. The entire episode was absurd. There were lies that were so easily fact-checked, and none of it made any sense. The White House Press Secretary stood at the podium and blatantly lied…over attendance numbers. The number one rule in my house is, “Thou shalt not lie to thy mother.” The reason? I have to be able to trust you. That is the foundation of everything else in existence. What if something bigger happens? Like, gawd forbid, a terror attack. Does anyone trust a word that comes out of these people’s mouths? I sure as hell don’t.
Here is some excellent advice from Matthew Dowd:
What Spicer should have said instead lying about crowd sizes: what the marchers did today was what makes America great – peaceful protest
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) January 22, 2017
Instead, the headlines looked like this:
Like, even the most ridiculous and obvious of Trump's lies are generally not being framed as such. Look at these headlines: pic.twitter.com/juP8Zx4Cs0
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 22, 2017
The headlines could have been much worse for Trump, but Dale is right; the media is still trying to figure this out. I don’t fault them, but I do pity them. They will get it. Even now, though, this is embarrassing for the administration. It is also embarrassing for the Republicans. And for every single person who still supports this man as the president. If his speech Friday wasn’t enough, directing his Press Secretary to lie about attendance and simultaneously denigrate the Secret Service and metro public transit officials should be. But priorities. Donald Trump First, right?