Preview—An incomparable plan for the week: We're heading off to do a radio program. For that reason, our first real post today will appear this afternoon.
Over the weekend, the chaos and confusion have spread. We've moved from the issue of President Trump's falsehoods, misstatements and/or lies to the question of his new executive order.
That said, strange claims by President Trump will surely continue. For that reason, we plan to spend the week considering the best ways to describe these peculiar claims.
Will we liberals, and will mainstream journalists, ever learn to "use our words" as we pursue the strange things this president says? Consider two clips from this morning's newspapers.
First example: In this morning's Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan discusses the ways our much-maligned news media can rebuild public trust.
Sullivan says reporters should stick to the facts. At one point, she also says this:
SULLIVAN (1/30/17): More than three in four Americans want the media to “emphasize inaccurate statements,” Pew reports.Wow. Rather plainly, Sullivan conflates "falsehoods" with "lies." That's a very unsophisticated approach—and yes, it actually matters.
They want journalists to call out falsehoods—lies—clearly. That flies in the face of Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon’s testy directive last week that the media “keep its mouth shut,” after widespread condemnation—in the fact-based world—of Trump’s bogus claims of widespread voter fraud.
Our view? Sullivan isn't using her words—and yes, it actually matters. That said, let's move to a second example.
Over at the New York Times, Francis X. Clinton clearly is using his words. For better or worse, he includes this passage in an Editorial Notebook piece:
CLINES (1/30/17): Headlines from the Trump White House keep feeding a reader’s need for fresh escape. Stephen Bannon, the right-wing iconoclast who is President Trump’s chief White House strategist, imperiously demanded the news media “keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.” Such a trusted aide at the president’s ear summons up Chance the gardener (Chauncey Gardiner) in Jerzy Kosinski’s novel “Being There,” who offers simplistic bromides about the nation’s problems to a credulous president. In the movie, Chauncey, played hilariously by Peter Sellers, becomes popular in his own right for “his simple brand of wisdom.”Has Mr. Trump been "dissimulating?" In our view, Clines may be using his words too much!
As Mr. Trump dissimulates further, the reading list can only grow, touching on the works of Richard Condon. He was the author of the Cold War novel “The Manchurian Candidate” who contended, “Although the paranoiacs make the great leaders, it’s the resenters who make their best instruments.”
Does it matter which words we use? Yes, it actually does! We'll be exploring the topic all week.
This afternoon, we'll return to the question of Donald J. Trump's mental health. We'll be applauding one major columnist who very much got it right!