How to report on Trump

Sure, this Washington Post story from earlier this week about Trump’s anti-Clinton speech has too much game orientation and is too ready to grant the Trump pivot, but what it does exactly right, that all journalists need to do is report what he says but then call out his lies immediately with facts.  Not with “Democrats say” or “Clinton’s campaigns insist…” or an entirely separate “fact check” story, but the reporters clearly and forthrightly telling the reader that what Trump just said was a lie.  Like this:

Trump sought to engineer a course correction by effectively hurling the opposition-research book at Clinton. In Wednesday’s speech, he hit the former secretary of state, senator and first lady on her decision-making surrounding the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya; her and her husband’s paid speeches; her use of a private email server; her deep ties to Wall Street; and her past support for trade deals.

Trump also explicitly blamed Clinton for the death of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and for general unrest there and in Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

“No secretary of state has been more wrong, more often and in more places than Hillary Clinton,” he said to applause. “Her decisions spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched.”

But some of what Trump said about Clinton’s record was exaggerated or untrue. He charged falsely that Clinton wants “totally open borders” and that she would admit hundreds of thousands of refugees from dangerous countries without vetting them.

Trump also incorrectly stated that Clinton supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal she has opposed since last year. And he said that Clinton “has spent her entire life making money for special interests” when in fact she spent much of her career in government service or at nonprofit organizations. [emphasis mine]

There, was that so hard?  Actually, it is harder in that it requires a thorough knowledge of the facts on the part of the reporter than just calling up the other side and saying, “your turn.” But this is how Trump needs to be reported on a day-in, day-out basis.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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