Last week the AP published a report that President Trump and his administration were considering mobilizing an illegal immigrant deportation force of 100,000 National Guard troops. Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded saying the report was “100 per cent not true” (aka ‘fake news’) and that he wished the AP had asked the White House first before going public. The AP claimed they did in fact ask the WH and Homeland Security, but that they got no response. The Trump administration is not following through with the deportation troop, as far as we know.
So, the story gets tossed. But the principal does not.
How does the media defend itself against statements by President Trump that the media is not trustworthy? How does the most reputable, longstanding local print news source of the Greater Boston Area partake in that dialog? It is delicate.
I attended a conference last week at which a NPR journalist tried to work with the audience on possible answers… but he concluded with the obvious “I don’t know.” No body really knows. The Globe, I think, is doing well.
The Boston Globe’s approach is to question the president too. See here in this article, where the Globe talks about Trump’s frequently used “they’re fake news” comment in their report on this AP story: https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/02/17/see-pattern-beware-fake-news-label/TYbVp4SuTz0La1VJZdHnaJ/story.html
The Globe suggests that Trump and the administration use the phrase “That’s fake news!” as a way to hush unwanted criticism. They headline their piece, “See a pattern? Beware the ‘fake news’ label.”
The Globe asserts that Trump’s ‘fake news’ label HELPS him. The press and the people move on from strange stories, never quite sure what actually happened. The looming question of fake news incites fear, discomfort, and ultimately probably exhaustion. And that is how Trump wants it. He said so in his press conference last Wednesday that the press shouldn’t know everything, he openly asked the White House press corps for softball questions, and he verbally berated reporters who asked something more intrusive or challenging.
The Globe suggests that Trump slaps that ‘fake news’ label worked perfectly in his favor in the case of the AP story above. They write, “Now, in the AP’s case, this might be an evolving and quickly-changing story. But it’s also possible — although nearly impossible to prove — that the White House set up the AP by not responding to their inquiries and only denying the report after it came out. It is also possible that the AP got the story; the White House declined to respond; the story was published; and only then did the administration realize an immigration deportation force was a bad idea.”
It’s no secret that the ‘fake news’ label works in his favor. When the country is exhausted by this back and forth about fake news, maybe truth won’t matter any more. In that case, Trump will have won.
Sending another weekly thank you to The Boston Globe for your reports! Thank you for not giving up, not getting exhausted, and continuing to work. The work this paper does is important to New England and beyond. Our understanding of Washington depends on your reports!
To my readers, your time is precious, so thank you for spending some of it on my blog.