Monday, January 23, 2017

Memo to Trump administration: When the media reports your lies, it isn’t bias

The duty of the press is to inform the public when the president or his administration lies, even about the silliest of matters

It seems that whenever conservatives say stupid things that get reported on, their first inclination is to blame the messenger.

Crowd sizes, Obama's 1st inauguration vs Trump's
That’s exactly what they’re doing following the first full weekend of Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, was adamant about promulgating many falsehoods in his first meeting with the press, including saying that the size of Trump’s inauguration crowds were the largest ever, prompting many in the media to point out that, no, they were not.

It is important for the press to report on the facts, even on something as silly as the size of one’s inauguration crowds. If our leaders are willing to misinform and lie on a matter as simple as that, the people ought to be made aware of it.

But some took the reporting of false information as media bias. Kellyanne Conway, for instance, went on Meet the Press on Sunday and announced that Spencer wasn’t spreading falsehoods, but was merely utilizing “alternative facts.”

Host Chuck Todd rightly called her out for using such Orwellian language, correcting her and stating that, “Alternative facts aren't facts, they are falsehoods.”

Conway was quick to respond with a jab at the media. “[I]f we’re going to keep referring to our Press Secretary in those types of terms I think that we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here,” she said, implying that she might not be friendly to Todd or anyone else who questions the administration’s narratives.

She’s not the only one who thinks the media is being unfair to Trump. This morning, Rudy Giuliani, who was a huge supporter of the president during his campaign, said, “I’d feel a lot better if Chuck [Todd] and the others would just admit they don't like Trump, they’re against Trump and they're going to view facts in the light most unfavorable to him.”

But that’s not what happened. Chuck Todd’s personal opinions aside, he asked Conway to defend the administration’s views that the crowd sizes were the largest in history. The facts were against those claims, and it’s not “media bias” to suggest the administration has a disconnect with reality.

If the Trump administration can’t handle the fact that the media is going to question them from time-to-time, then this is going to be a very frustrating four years for Trump and his underlings. In the meantime, the media needs to be careful about how they depict their interactions with this administration – Conway, Spicer, and other Trump supporters are going to do their very best to paint the false “media bias” narrative as much as possible.

The media needs to continue reporting false statements, but at the same time be sure to let the public know that the childish reactions made by administration officials are just that: childish. And they need to reiterate, every time they do so, that reporting on false information supplanted by Trump and his surrogates isn’t bias – it’s simply delivering the truth to the people at a time when Trump refuses to do so.

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