A Lie Is a Lie, Is a Lie

The Death of the Media

Would you buy a used car from these men?

CNN/Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources email thingie goes deep on the many lies of Comrade Trump:

🔥 The “lie” debate

Trump tweeted several other whoppers over the weekend, reigniting a debate in media circles about when to say he “lied.” We made this the lead story on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources.” My POV: Trump is a liar, he lies, but not everything he says is a lie. We need to distinguish between a deflection, an exaggeration and a straight up lie, the same way we note the difference between a two-alarm fire and a five-alarm fire.

What I hear Trump detractors saying to journalists: Acknowledge that YOU see what WE see! He lies to us constantly! Even his small lies do damage! It’s a disinformation campaign! You all have to rethink how you do your jobs! DO something!

What I hear Trump supporters saying to journalists: Why do you all hate our president so much? Why won’t you give him a chance?

How Trump’s lying should be covered

On “Reliable,” CNN’s Sarah Westwood, The Nation’s Joan Walsh, and The Toronto Star Trump-checker Daniel Dale joined me for a conversation about this issue. CNNMoney’s Jackie Wattles recapped the segment here.

Walsh said some news outlets go too far to “AVOID the word lie.” But Dale said “we have to stick to what we know is true.” Sometimes, he said, it’s clear he lied — definition: “intentionally false” — but other times he’s “confused.”

–> I thought Dale was really on point here: “This is a central feature of his presidency, the incessant dishonesty. And I think it’s still often tweeted as kind of a side show rather than the show, rather than the central story.” It’s a “central story!”

Stelter is one of the better people on CNN, I enjoy him a lot, but his show is a lot of inside baseball analysis of the media (ratings! money! box office!) and one can make the case that it is the Villagers praising themselves. It’s often an awards show without the awards, and a lot of high-minded drivel about their own importance, interrupted by ads.

In this summary of his show, I think Stelter tries too hard to keep his impartiality cred. A lie, regardless of its intent, is still a lie.

I think having some sort of sliding scale from “a deflection, an exaggeration and a straight up lie” is a disservice. So when does a factually untrue statement slide from a deflection into an exaggeration? When does it become a straight-up lie? How do we know when a journalist is letting it slide for some reason? We don’t.

Stelter’s sliding scale makes a distinction on these things based upon the journalist’s opinion, and we’re right back where we started.

Here’s the thing: if Comrade Stupid actually made a mistake, he (or more likely Elmira Gantry Huckabee-Sanders) would issue a correction, but a correction is a mythological beast in this administration. Comrade Stupid says what he means to say. Your job, Journalists, is to tell us the truth, and maybe find out why he wanted to lie about X.

So when Comrade Prznint tells us a deflection/exaggeration/lie, you should tell us the facts and in as close to real time as you can.

When Comrade Stupid says, “So regulations — we have cut more regulations in this 15 to 16 months than any other President has cut in four years, eight years or as you know, FDR, in one case 16 years, and it’s not even close.,” — journalists should note that FDR only served 12 years, having died early in his fourth term, and then cite the number of regulations cut. You don’t have to arbitrate the truth, just state it. We will know whether or not it is a significant lie.

And you should not apologize and/or enable his lying by watering it down as a deflection or exaggeration. You are normalizing lying when you do that.

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9 Responses to A Lie Is a Lie, Is a Lie

  1. roket says:

    “Like” Agreed. Measuring truthiness makes you an enabler.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. w3ski4me says:

    It is very sad how far in the hole our reporters will go for “access”. Prostituting themselves for continued access to the “players’. The ignoring of tRump’s lies is the most sad. I would love to see the actual facts printed or a chyron on the screen in every instance, but you need to remember we now live in an age where even proven scientific facts are subject to political interpretation. The koolaid drinkers would bitch and the critical thinkers would applaud and we’d be right in the swamp, like we all are.
    My personal feeling is we need an upheaval in our education system. Separate the religious from the school boards, spend whatever it takes to bring even “PS 0001999567” along into the 21rst century, and let the scientists and the unions and the artists decide what is taught.
    From my schooling and my local world, I came away with a skill called “critical thinking”, and a healthy respect for Science. We need to institutionalize those attributes country wide.
    There is no cure for blatant stupidity, but at least we could fully educate the rest?
    w3ski

    Like

  3. Big Bad Bald Bastard says:

    When John Cusack is a better journalist than anybody at the NYT or CNN, there’s a problem. Not to knock John Cusack, who is great (and might be a distant cousin of mine).

    Like

  4. Pingback: Dear Brian Stelter and Reliable Sources: A Lie Is a Lie, Is a Lie – FairAndUNbalanced.com

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