We've seen this time and time again -- whether it's Maggie Haberman at the New York Times, or CNN constantly propping up lying Trumpsters on their political panels, or MSNBC employing lifeboat building never-Trumpers to try to put as much distance as possible between the Republican party and Trump, or their daytime lineup of one milquetoast reporter after another normalizing this corrupt administration -- the media has been completely falling down on the job since the election of Donald Trump.
And we have a perfect example of the latter in the clip above. Weekend MSNBC daytime host Alex Witt opened her show this Saturday reporting on the upcoming summit with North Korea, and brought up Trump's blatant lie about having read the letter he received from Kim Jong Un's emissary to the United States, and just watch Witt and her three guests, MSNBC's Kelly O'Donnell, The New York Time's Katie Rogers, and the AP's Jonathan Lemire dance around the notion, or just make outright excuses for Trump's obvious lie at his press conference the previous day.
Laura Duca wrote a must-read article at Teen Vogue this weekend taking the press and the likes of Haberman, CNN's Brian Stelter and others apart for their reporting on Trump's lies and the notion that we can't be sure if he's lying or not because we can't get inside his head, or don't know what his intent is.
Go read the whole thing and it would be nice if the four people in the video above would read it as well, but I'll share a few portions of the article here: Donald Trump Has Been Lying to the American Public, and Journalists Need to Call Him Out:
President Donald Trump’s lies are well documented. PolitiFact estimated that from June 2015, when he announced his campaign, until November 2016, when he won the election, almost 70% of the things he said publicly were “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire.” On May 1, The Washington Post reported that as of that date he had issued 3,001 false or misleading statements since taking office, averaging almost 6.5 a day, up from 4.9 over the first 100 days, when the newspaper first started keeping track. The president of the United States is basically an anti-reality Pez dispenser. So why does the media often avoid using the word “lie” when reporting on all of his false claims? [...]
As the leader of the country, Trump is the core source for our perception of the state of the union. Once he took office, his abusive relationship with the truth came with the official seal of the White House, and that is of crucial importance. The Trump administration is now waging an unprecedented campaign of disinformation on the American people. The president of the United States is working to undermine our shared foundation of truth so that we have no choice but to accept his version of reality.
Trump himself has reportedly admitted that this is his aim. On stage at the Deadline Club Awards Dinner on May 21, 60 Minutes host Leslie Stahl told PBS Newshour anchor Julie Woodruff that Trump told her he undermines the press so that the public will have no grasp on what is true. During an informal meeting with then candidate Trump in 2016, Stahl said, she asked Trump why he was constantly attacking the media. "He said, 'You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,’” she told Woodruff. If this is true, and those are Trump’s intentions, the endgame is to deprive journalism of any value whatsoever. [...]
Journalists must work to help the public make sense of this great American dumpster fire, and a part of doing that is centering the conversation around the White House’s conflicting versions of reality. On the same May 27 edition of Reliable Sources that featured the “All the President’s Lies” segment, Stelter convened a panel including Daniel Dale, a reporter tasked with fact-checking all of Trump’s words for the Toronto Star, who made a crucial point: “This is a central feature of his presidency, the incessant dishonesty, and I think it’s still too often treated as a sideshow rather than the show, rather than a central story.”
Much of Trump’s war on the truth appears to be based in exploiting widespread media illiteracy among the citizenry. Journalism is not about striving to appear fair, but maintaining a rigorous objectivity for the purpose of serving the public. The ultimate allegiance of the press is to our fellow citizens. It is crucial that journalists do a better job at explaining our purpose and be radically transparent with all editorial decision-making. That means calling a lie a lie, and if we don’t, then fully providing readers with the reason why the word “lie” is not appropriate, along with context for understanding this administration’s abusive relationship with the truth.
As a whole, journalists are routinely failing to uphold and communicate their utmost duty: to empower citizens with the information needed to hold those in power accountable. Our current moment is often likened to George Orwell’s 1984. We’re not quite at the rat-torture stage, but we’re getting there. If you’ve read the book, surely you recall this scene: The protagonist, Winston, is being tortured with a rodent contraption that’s been fastened over his head. O’Brien, a government official so notorious he is known only by one name, like Cher, tells him to say that two plus two equals five After enough pain has been inflicted, Winston relents, but it’s not enough for his tormentor. O’Brien doesn’t merely want Winston to say that two plus two equals five; he requires him to really believe it. The carnage will continue until he is beaten so far into submission that he surrenders total obedience to government-sanctioned reality.
Authoritarianism works to corrode our shared foundation of truth, pushing us to a point where we so doubt our own sanity, it becomes too much of a chore to even care what is true. Such is the goal of the Trump administration: to bombard us with so many conflicting versions of reality that we throw our hands in the air and give up on being certain about anything at all. The falsehoods, whoppers, and salesman-like stretches all come down to this: Without the truth, we have no foundation from which to resist.
Our democracy won't survive if our media continues to give these liars a pass. It's bad enough we've got one station entirely devoted to right wing propaganda and Sinclair doing their best to do the same to local stations around the country. These pundits and so-called reporters need to be called to account when they fail to do their jobs.