By editorial board • 

Trump is fighting reality, not those who report it

President Donald Trump is waging war on reality.

Remember that statement when he calls our profession “fake news” or, more menacingly, “the enemy of the people” — a popular phrase among dictators.

We are joining colleagues at more than 300 newspapers this week in decrying the president’s street thug assault on our profession. Again, this is not about us.
As journalists, we can accept criticism, even hostility. It comes with the job.

When we respond to the president’s slurs, we aren’t defending ourselves. We’re defending reality.

This president and his acolytes make false statements almost daily. They are not only false, they are blatantly and demonstrably false. Even ludicrously false.
While false statements fall like rain throughout this administration, Trump is the worst offender.

What’s going on inside his head? Is he lying? Is he speaking off the cuff without thinking? Is he then too conceited to admit he made a mistake?

That last question speaks to the heart of his conflict with the press: News outlets make mistakes.

However, when we do, we acknowledge and correct the error. When has the president ever acknowledged and corrected one of his errors?

He invariably denies the mistake was ever made and rails against the press for holding him to some semblance of reality. “Fake news” has became his mantra for coverage even remotely unflattering to his bloated yet fragile ego.

But objective reality isn’t subject to executive caprice. For example, Trump cannot claim repeatedly that the Russians didn’t interfere in the 2016 election on his behalf, then contradict himself and say he never said that and merely misspoke one word on one occasion.

Actually, he can. That’s the problem.

Trump wants Americans to believe reality is whatever emerges from his mouth at any given moment. Some Americans do.

People who slapped bumper stickers on their cars demanding Congress “Impeach the Liar” during the Clinton administration are now embracing a president who averages 7.6 false statements daily, according to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. Then they accept the myth that all would be well but for the news outlets such as the Post calling him on it.

“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” Trump said during a rally last month in Kansas. “Just stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.”

Believe only Trump? Is this 2018 or “1984”?

When five employees were slaughtered at a Maryland newspaper June 28, the June 29 edition hit the street on schedule. One of the reporters in Maryland said spoke for all of us.

“I can tell you this,” Chase Cook said defiantly. “We are putting out a damn paper.”

Lies, slurs and assaults won’t stop us. Never have, never will.

The press is not the enemy of the people. But an egomaniacal autocrat trying to dictate to Americans what to think and how to believe may be.

Comments

Long acre

Outstanding editorial! Unfortunately there is a degree of this taking place at the local level as well. IMO we've had a string of commissioners (including two present ones) who have a different take on "reality" as well. They want to define "reality" as whatever supports their political agenda, just like Donald Trump. For example, they will cry unyielding support for the constitution, but only for those amendments and situations that support their agenda - such as the 2nd. Trump doesn't have exclusive use of this model. The media and the public need to start and/or continue to be diligent both nationally and locally.

Mudstump

“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” Trump said during a rally last month in Kansas. “Just stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.”

It reminds me of when I was young and waited every year for the Wizard of Oz to play in tv. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. This is the great Trump speaking!"

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