Covering Donald Trump can be difficult. He frequently says things that are not true and when he’s presented with the facts, ignores them.
Meanwhile, much of the media is invested in a notion of objectivity that involves legitimizing both sides of every issue.
For example, BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski has documented that, prior to the start of the Iraq War, Donald Trump said he supported it. Howard Stern asked him “Are you for invading Iraq?” “Yeah, I guess so,” Trump replied. There is no evidence of Trump opposing the Iraq war prior to it beginning.
Confronted with these facts, Trump has ignored them and maintained he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning.
Today, the Wall Street Journal presents this as a controversy with Trump claiming he opposed the Iraq War and “critics” suggesting it’s more complicated.
— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) June 2, 2016
The New York Times takes a different, but similarly problematic approach, when they repeat Trump’s claim that he opposed the Iraq War but do not fact check the claim.
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) June 2, 2016
There is a better way. In a speech today, Hillary Clinton is expected to take Trump to task for suggesting Japan acquire nuclear weapons. Trump has responded by claiming he never said that and calling Hillary a liar.
“It was such lies about my foreign policy, that they said I want Japan to get nuclear weapons. Give me a break,” Trump said at a rally in Sacramento last night.
A CNN producer recalled that during an interview with Fox News in April, Trump said he supported Japan acquiring nuclear weapons.
— Marshall Cohen (@Marshall_Cohen) June 2, 2016
CNN has been criticized for the volume and tenor of its Trump coverage. But today, the discussion of Trump’s position on Japan featured this chyron on the screen:
This is not a balanced presentation. There is a dispute between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and CNN is clearly taking one side. But it is a factual presentation and, therefore, a fair presentation.
It’s something we need a lot more of between now and November.