Trump’s Lies are a Virus, and the Media is the Host: Must read Atlantic Article

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Gator Gerhardt / YouTube Msp The Donald Trump Virus 1542715028.jpg...
Gator Gerhardt / YouTube

Please read Derek Thompson’s piece in the Atlantic: Trump’s Lies Are a Virus, and News Organizations Are the Host. It goes to the heart of the media’s malfeasance now and in the campaign.

Exhibit A: from Axios (the new, old Politico):

President Donald Trump told Axios reporters that he planned to use an executive order to end birthright citizenship because, as he put it, “we’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen.” On Twitter, Axios CEO and co-founder Jim VandeHei wrote, “Exclusive: Trump to terminate birthright citizenship.”

There are dozens of examples of this:

Exhibits B, C, D and E

  • When Trump incorrectly described the GOP health bill as covering preexisting conditions, Politico simply declared: “Trump guarantees coverage for people with pre-existing conditions in health care bill.”
  • When Trump falsely took credit for Ford moving a plant from Kentucky to Mexico, ABC News reported: “Donald Trump Takes Credit for Keeping a Kentucky Ford Plant From Moving to Mexico.”
  • When Trump claimed, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, CBS News tweeted: “Donald Trump: ‘Millions’ voted illegally for Hillary Clinton.”
  • When Trump claimed dubiously that he would sever ties with his businesses, it was reported as straightforward fact by CNN (“Trump Cutting Ties With Businesses”) and the AP (“Trump Says He’s Leaving Businesses to Focus on Presidency”).

Thompson notes: “In epidemiology, a virus cannot multiply on its own. First, it must find a host, whose cellular machinery it commandeers to reproduce. “ The above are great examples of media acting as a host to reproduce and help spread lies and hate.

Thompson suggests two approaches:

“Selective Abstinence” — Quote Trump as little as possible. Rachel Maddow says she does this.

“Aggressive Contextualization” (consistently bracketing his direct quotes with the relevant truth), e.g.,

if the president claims that the GOP health-care bills expand insurance coverage (they do not), the AP or a similar source could tweet, “GOP health plan still reduces coverage. Trump claims otherwise, but provides no evidence.”

I would add use of the word unacceptable.” it’s unacceptable for the President (or anyone) to demonize with racist or anti-Semitic buzz words, like “Soros” It is unacceptable to blatantly deny what you said — in the bebates, shouting “Wrong,” when HRC said Trump claimed climate change is a Chinese hoax.” It’s Unacceptable to support by joking a politician body-slamming a reporter.

Not saying it’s unacceptable helps normalize it.

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2 Comments on "Trump’s Lies are a Virus, and the Media is the Host: Must read Atlantic Article"

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David Bishop
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David Bishop

Media is too lazy to adopt this across the board.

Diana Roby
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Diana Roby

The media is not lazy. It’s just that the orange one makes it as difficult as possible for the media to stand up to him. They are physically threatened by his cult followers. And he make sure that they believe EVERYTHING they say that is critical, even slightly critical, is considered treasonous.

Getting pipe bombs in the mail from one of his supporters tends to make them question whether or not it’s worth it to stand up to him. Especially if none of the other journalists have their back. Watch the “press briefings” and see how divided they can be.