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Trump and the Lying Media

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 21:25
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(Before It's News)

Trump ""
title="||| Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press/Newscom" width="300" style=
"float: right;" />A couple of months ago, I had a nasty chore that
I have to perform every so often. I had misquoted what a politician
said in 1992, and a co-worker noticed the discrepancy. I wrote a
correction, which my employer, the Chicago Tribune,
promptly published.

Does making a mistake like that cause me pain? Well, yes, sort
of like the pain I’d get from being bitten by a wolverine and then
dousing the wound with Tabasco. But sometimes mistakes happen, and
when they do, the Tribune makes a point of letting our
readers know.

It’s not hard to get a correction when a reputable newspaper
gets something wrong. Wednesday’s edition of The New York
included 13. The Wall Street Journal had four.
The Tribune had none, but it prominently featured a phone
number and an email address, inviting readers to report errors.

Donald Trump tells voters the news media do not provide honest
information. “They will attack you. They will slander you. They
will seek to destroy your career and your family,” he insists.
“They will lie, lie, lie, and then again they will do worse than

Funny thing. As an opinion columnist, I’ve written dozens of
columns disputing, contradicting, rebutting and even ridiculing
him. I’ve met him and his campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, and
emailed with her.

Yet neither of them nor anyone else associated with his campaign
has ever asked for a correction of anything I’ve written. If I’m
one of the journalists lying about him, why don’t they point out my
false claims and force the newspapers that publish my columns to
set the record straight?

Maybe they’ve been too busy meeting with his attorneys about the
lawsuits he’s planning. After The New York Times ran a
story about two women who said he had sexually assaulted them,
Trump threatened to sue for libel. His wife, Melania, threatened to
sue People magazine after one of the alleged victims, a
People writer, recalled a chat with her on the street.

Neither lawsuit will ever come to pass. If he were to sue the
Times, Trump would have to undergo interrogation about these and
other accusations. His ex-wives and girlfriends could be deposed.
So could his children, his friends, his enemies and his employees,
past and present.

From those depositions, the Times‘ lawyers might learn
a lot of things that Trump would rather they didn’t. In spite of
all his bluster, Reuters reports, he hasn’t sued a newspaper for
libel since 1984—when he took the Chicago Tribune and its
architecture critic to court for disparaging a skyscraper he had
proposed. Trump lost and apparently learned a lesson.

It’s harder for a public figure to win a libel suit than it is
for a private individual, because the legal requirements are
different. But even a famous person has only to prove that the
newspaper published a false story that harmed his or her reputation
and knew or should have known the story was false. (Melania Trump
would have no chance suing People, because the offending
passage, true or not, wasn’t damaging.) Such lawsuits rarely get
file –and even more rarely succeed—because news organizations
hardly ever do what the defamation laws punish.

Trump’s fulminations against the coverage of his campaign are
equally hollow. He doesn’t ask for corrections because, as a rule,
there is nothing to correct.

Newspapers routinely acknowledge when they get facts wrong,
because their credibility is all they have. Trump doesn’t admit or
retract falsehoods, because his falsehoods are deliberate.

PolitiFact has documented that 53 percent of his statements are
entirely false and only 4 percent are entirely true. (For Hillary
Clinton, the figures are 12 percent entirely false and 24 percent
entirely true.)

He thinks the news media are biased against him. What they are
really biased against is his flagrant, incessant lying about
matters large and small.

Clinton has told her share of lies—which the news media have
exposed. The difference is that her misstatements are limited in
number and scope, while he emits a never-ending torrent of
outlandish fictions, which he goes on repeating long after each one
has been exposed. His approach is a repudiation of the very idea
that factual reality matters, which happens to be a sacred tenet of
honest journalism.

Trump spouts brazen misinformation every time he opens his
mouth, and he resents being called on it. But when he makes war on
the truth, he shouldn’t be surprised to find the news media
mounting a defense.


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