I recently wrote about the complexities of covering Donald Trump, and the fine line between informing people about what the leader of the Republican Party is up to and giving oxygen to an aspiring authoritarian’s hatefulness and lies.
My own view is that Trump has to be covered, but responsibly so. Journalists need to be prepared to fact-check him, examine his statements in context, and call him out without equivocating. But I don’t pretend to have all the answers.
So I’m curious what readers think. How do you think journalists should cover the 2021 version of Trump? In what ways, if any, do you think my view is wrong?
Sound off in the discussion thread. I may even weigh in myself.
Hey Aaron I posted and sent you my thoughts already but I'll send them again. I think journalist need to change how they describe Donald J. Trump with more accurate terms such as racist, as well as twice impeached, irresponsible former or EX President. When people conflate terms calling him President, it to me disrepects the sitting president. Journalist need to constantly remind the public key factors: he requested GA to find 11780 votes on tape, he lied about covid on tape, he attempted to blackmail the president of Turkey to help him smear Biden on tape. We already know voters have short memories. However, this is a time where journalists tell the current related history to remind the 81mil voters that voted for Biden this was NOT a fantasy, or lies etc. Always Always Always remind the public of his actions and how the past and current day is designed to do nothing more than get him back in office at any cost to democracy. That is not an opinion.
I think that as the lawsuits (civil and criminal) come into focus and we begin to see rulings definitely knocking down his legal claims of immunity or executive privilege, and then hopefully some actual decisions, reporters should make a point of depicting Trump as both a politician and a flim flam man. That especially in the case of a sinking businessman with massive debts, the need to raise more money to cover these costs and protect assets cannot be separated from whatever political ambitions he has today.
The problem is the alternative facts bubble/propaganda machine. MSM is preaching to the choir and will never convince anyone watching earth 2+ that Trump is nothing but a liar and con man that's using politics to put $ in his pocket.
Thinking of how the number of covid deaths was projected on his DC hotel....If there was a way to display "FALSE" or "LIE" across the stage when he's speaking, would that even matter to those in his adoring crowds? For those watching tv, show the words on screen and make it interactive so the word "FALSE/LIE" links to the facts. But again if the 'facts' are coming from anyone outside the alternative facts bubble, they won't be believed by anyone not already singing loudly in the choir.
He stands up there and says they have documented proof the election was stolen. No mention of the 60+ cases they lost because they couldn't show fraud in court. Or the issues his lawyers are dealing with for being involved in those cases. He's trying to turn Ashli Babbitt into his personal martyr when the video anyone can watch clearly shows what happened. His followers think the January 6th insurrection was BLM, Antifa and staged by the FBI. And they see a civil war coming because the election was stolen.
Just like you pointed out Chris Wallace asking Steve Scalise if the election was stolen and not getting an answer -- ask a tell-the-truth-test question first and if the guest refuses to answer or lies, thank them for coming and end the interview. And then tell the audience why. If the guest starts telling lies, cut their mic off and tell the audience why. Then watch the snowflakes go on earth3+ and complain about being cancelled and stripped of their 1st Amendment rights and scream about Hunter Biden or "But her emails" yet again.
otoh, it's been nice since Trump hasn't been clogging up social media 24/7, hasn't it?
Can't thank you enough, Aaron, for what you do. It keeps us sane.
He needs to be covered so we all know what he is up to. But he shouldn't be on live TV and neither should anyone who supported his attempted coup. Any comments or "Fake Press releases," he makes need to be fact checked with the truth before anything is aired or printed. And the MSM needs to stop both sidesing everything. What trump and republicans are doing to prevent the voting rights and BBB legislation from becoming reality needs to be described as the obstructionist, ANTI DEMOCRATIC, ANTI AMERICAN behavior that it is and they need to be called out for their attempts to throw our economy into the toilet.. They are attempting to maintain power through gerrymandering and voter suppression and if democrats don't get their collective crap together and pass these bills, the republicans will swoop in during the midterms and take back control of the house and/or senate. If they control the senate, they WILL kill the filibuster to do anything legislatively that will help them take back the White House.
We CANNOT out organize voter suppression/gerrymandering or their attempt to subvert our elections.
Cover only the parts that pertain to him and all the lawsuits. I have no need to hear about him bleating repeatedly about stolen elections, discrediting Biden and anyone/anything else in his way'
First, I want to thank Aaron, again, for doing the listening to and watching of a man that literally makes me ill to hear or see. However, knowing what he is up to is vitally important. We know he can't speak, or write. We know he has no knowledge of history. We know he would fail a civics 101 class. We know he is scum - so we don't need to hear about that. I think journalists need to inform us of his actions, not his show, and their ramifications - which is not as much about tfg as it is about those working to grow trumpism. What is the strategy? Where do you see weakness or things growing stronger on the right? What is changing because of what he does/they do? At the State and local level, are ANY Republicans doing ANYTHING to push back in 2022? I feel like growing those voices might be a good thing. That would not be specifically about tfg, but it would bring a more real-world feeling - and maybe a glimmer of hope?!?! - to our politics.
I'm glad there is not an editor from the NYT shaping the headlines at Public Notice.
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer"
I think the less oxygen we give him the quicker we can rid ourselves of him. However, I realize that he is still getting his message out there, so only cover what you can correct and leave the rest of his lies to die in the dark.
I think it's incumbent on journalists to both report his vacuous utterings AND debunk them while doing so. I know it's tough, but it needs to be done. If more in the media made a habit of calling out his garbage as what it is - lies, exaggerations, and bird droppings - it *might* just catch on with the MSM.
The politics of FEAR need to be called out as well... because the belief in the fear-inducing lies is what will garner votes, not the mere repetition of the truth. Let's face it, FEAR sells. Remember the "soccer moms" and the fear of terrorism? Now, with their backs against the wall, the GOP is pulling out all the stops to sell their version of FEAR... terrorism, socialism, marxism, communism, whatever they think they can get the hoi polloi to believe. If they succeed, we fail, and democracy falls.
As I see it, your job, and the job of all independent journos, is to make so much noise that MSM *has* to take notice. Make so much noise that even the Reich-wing media takes notice. I will continue to RT and highlight journos like you, Judd Legum, and many others who make it a habit to call out the nefarious schemes being perpetrated in plain sight. Thank you, Aaron, and may you be a smashing success!
Louanne Horsfield - Your have it right, Aaron. His most anti-democratic activities need to be covered, but no live coverage. I agree with many comments below, that journalists/interviewers need to ask the truth question first, then end interviews if the subject won't be truthful. Keep it up!
Divvy it up. Get the most caustic reporters to cover him with ridicule - he hates that; let others pound on his lies. For the most fearless among you, always mention his shady past, rumored mob connections, philistine behavior. Too, also, whenever he says “I never did this” or “I never do that”, look to old depositions to find where admits he really DID do this or that.
PS I hate when people say we have to give him credit for being the perfect conman. NO WE DONT. Psychopaths don’t deserve credit for anything they do.
Can you write a letter to Dean Baquet at the NYT and ask: "In what circumstances would you allow the use of the word 'LIE'?"
Trump has left us no choice but to just state the facts. Lol jokingly it's like a wife telling a husband this is why I'm leaving or left you! We the public need an officially and publicly bad break up with him. He won't get it until we make him understand that his policies are not good for us.