A lie ain’t a side of the story. It’s just a lie

Probably my favorite Wire pre-episode quote ever.

Image result for wire lie ain't a side of the story

Anyway, Margaret Sullivan’s recent column on the mainstream media helping to promote Trump administration lies in the name of “fairness” and “both sides” definitely brought this to mind.  Good stuff:

One place that truth can prevail is in the reality-based news media, where editorial judgment comes into play.

That means it’s more important than ever not to give falsehoods a megaphone there.

Which brings us to Chris Cuomo’s 39-minute interview Thursday with Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s top dissembler.

It should have been no surprise that Conway — who coined the immortal phrase “alternative facts” in early 2017 — blithely spun her way through the interview…

Perhaps most absurd among Conway’s declarations was her objection to Cuomo’s referring to Trump as a liar, although she wouldn’t repeat the term. “You’re saying he’s not telling the truth. That’s a slur. That’s a slur.”

It may not be pretty to hear, but it’s undeniable: Trump very, very often doesn’t tell the truth. (The falsehood count is over 6,000, says The Post’s Fact Checker.)

No, it’s not a slur to state the facts. But it is a shame to give liars a megaphone.

So it’s time (actually, well past time) for the mainstream media to enter the No Kellyanne Zone. And that goes far beyond banning her, or any particular adviser, from cable interview shows…

The news media continues — even now when it should know better — to be addicted to “both sides” journalism. In the name of fairness, objectivity and respect for the office of the presidency, it still seems to take Trump — along with his array of deceptive surrogates — at his word, while knowing full well that his word isn’t good.

When major news organizations publish tweets and news alerts that repeat falsehoods merely because the president uttered them, it’s the same kind of journalistic malpractice as offering a prime interview spot to Kellyanne Conway.  [emphases mine]

This is how NBC News spread the news of Trump’s reaction to recent legal developments that were extraordinarily negative — maybe devastating — to him:

NEW: “Totally clears the President. Thank you!” President Trump asserts in a tweet after new Cohen and Manafort case filings.

Reuters and the Associated Press did much the same: “BREAKING,” said the AP’s tweet: “White House says Cohen, Manafort filings offer nothing new or damaging about Trump.” (The AP later deleted its tweet and explained that it lacked context.)…

When news organizations hand a megaphone to lies — or liars — they do actual harm. What the president himself says must be reported, of course, but only within the context of what we know.

So, when I first tweeted Sullivan’s column, the estimable Kyle Saunders replied, thusly

True.  But, the “media” here clearly means mainstream news organizations– like those specifically called out, CNN, NBC, Reuters, etc.,– that, in theory, have deeply embedded journalistic values and that we absolutely have to demand do better.  The reporters and editors are not writing absurd “both sides” takes because that’s what is profitable, but because that is a deeply-embedded set of journalistic norms that the liars have learned to ruthlessly exploit to their benefit until journalists wise up.

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