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Contrary to Trump’s assertions, reporters do not feel ‘able to write whatever they want to write’

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump departing for travel to Pennsylvania from the White House on Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Times (among many other papers) reports that, during a media availability while meeting in the Oval Office with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump said that “it is frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write.”

The current incumbent must be brilliant in some way that I am unable to appreciate or am not used to describing as brilliant. After all, as he would gladly remind me if he knew I existed, he’s president and I’m not. Point taken.

In order to understand his brilliance better, I think I would need to know much more about several areas of psychology, mass psychology, individual psychology, and aberrant psychology. But, from my modest post as a scribbler I can relate to him only by noting what he does and says and tweets. (He says and tweets a lot more than he does.) And I do try to figure him out and occasionally cling to some crumb of hope that he’s not as bad and dangerous as he often seems (at least to me).

But from what he says and tweets and does, he seems to put himself in a poor position to render judgment about who does or doesn’t write (or say) whatever they want to write (or say).

Not meaning to brag (and certainly acknowledging that Trump knows more about several subjects than I do) I do have a lifetime’s experience in the craft of journalism. Most of it (before I somehow lucked into my current fabulous gig) was spent as a real reporter writing fact-filled news stories in a so-called objective voice at three newspapers over 35 years. And I can tell you (and I would tell him, if he gave me a call) that reporters for respectable news outlets are incredibly, insanely committed to factual accuracy and do not write “whatever they want to write” unless they have good reason to believe it is factual.

So I know this: Reporters do not feel “able to write whatever they want to write,” and they certainly don’t feel able to report falsehoods as if they were facts.

Get your facts right is basically the first five priorities of regular, old-fashioned news reporters. Before you get to worrying about how to express them, and which ones to put first, you must be factually accurate. If you get a fact wrong and someone reports you to the editor or ombudsman, you will end up having to go through the odious and humiliating (but necessary) process of admitting your factual errors and correcting them.

And let me get this out before I lose you: Presidents are also supposed to tell the truth. They don’t always do it, but they are supposed to, and if they don’t tell the truth it’s the news media’s job to point it out and say what the truth is – although, if we’re going to be painstakingly correct about it, it’s their job to say what the facts are, and leave the search for “truth” to the philosophers.

Now it so happens, thanks to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that it’s close to a true statement that “the press is able to write whatever they want to write.” Although “able” to write falsehoods only refers to what you can get away with if you are sued for libel.

At least as a matter of constitutional law as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the landmark 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan (if the current incumbent cares about that stuff), the media pretty much CAN write whatever they want to write, and if you sue them, you will have to prove not only that it was false and caused you damage, but that they knowingly published the falsehood with what the court called “actual malice.” Of course, that’s just constitutional law, nothing about which Trump knows or cares.

Because, the thing is, Trump is in the running for the title of lyingest president ever. The Supreme Court standard of “reckless disregard” is hard to meet or to prove, but it sure looks like the current incumbent is incredibly reckless with the truth, or maybe just hostile to it.

We didn’t have the journalistic sub-genre of “fact-checkers” in Lincoln’s day, nor even in Nixon’s, but we’ve had it for a while now and Trump has broken all the marks for “Pinocchios” and “Pants on Fire” ratings. It’s really pretty shocking. Before Trump, we all knew that politicians sometimes shaded the truth, but we’ve never seen anything like this volume of mendacity.

Before Trump, we sort of thought there was some kind of limit to just how many, how big, how false the lies were that a president could get away with telling. After nine months of President Trump it seems those of us who thought that were wrong.

It is, quite frankly, Trump who says “whatever he wants,” and an astonishing portion of what he wants to say is false, so false so often that one has to wonder if he recognizes the difference between truth and falseness. It’s hard for a person with a normal respect for the factual accuracy to believe that he can get away with this, but it turns out, so far, he can.

One more thing I should have included much higher up in this rant, is what set off Trump’s disgust with the media’s lying ways. It was this quadruple-bylined NBC story,  based on multiple but unnamed sources, about a July 20 meeting/briefing between the president and several top officials about the quantity and quality of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. According to the sources, Trump argued for a huge increase in the U.S, nuclear arsenal, which is already by far the biggest and best in the world.

This meeting is said to be the event that set off the now famous (but unverified) moment when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the president was a “moron,” with a possible f-word in front of the m-word.

Comments (41)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 10/12/2017 - 10:57 am.

    The Facts Just Get In The Way

    President Trump doesn’t have any desire for the truth because it just gets in his way. We must remember it is all about him. He doesn’t have any empathy for others, reference hurricane responses written by someone else, because he can’t stay on script. He is a man (poor descriptor) who has lived life without any consequences. He has a total inability to understand anyone else’s circumstances.

    Today Trump is signing a decree via an executive order on Obamacare. I guess he doesn’t realize it is now Trumpcare. The President is taking that action because the Republicans caught the vehicle they chased for 7 years and then couldn’t repeal or replace it. Trump will do what he can to weaken the ACA any way that he can. Oops, I shouldn’t have called it the ACA because some Republicans like the ACA. It is Obamacare they just can’t stand. The Obamacare facts just get in the way. President Obama should not have picked on Trump during the Correspondent’s Dinner several years ago because Trump is vehemently vindictive, no matter the impact. Reference the massive effort the Trump administration is putting into reversing anything with President Obama’s name on it. Little does Trump know, historians will have the last say because their job is to reveal the impact the Trump administration decisions will have on history – it won’t be pretty.

    Now Trump claims the bull stock market will reduce the US debt. I can’t wait to see how he ties those two together. It is another case where the facts just get in the way of a soundbite. I thought he said he had a high IQ. If he does, he better start proving it because there isn’t any evidence of it.

  2. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 10/12/2017 - 11:10 am.

    ” whatever they want to write…”

    Trump is wrong…again.

    However, it is not so much what “journalist” write that is the problem, it is what they refuse to write.

    Bias – spin – selective memory – deliberate politics – is the greatest danger to those who claim to be true to the tenants of” independent journalism.”

  3. Submitted by Patrick Tice on 10/12/2017 - 11:38 am.

    Every day it’s something

    The adult daycare center belches out some depressing nonsense every morning before the weary staff have a chance to distract the crybaby-in-chief. It’s time for the GOP to man up and deal with it instead of trying to hang on until they get their tax “reform” passed and signed. The nation cannot wait that long.

  4. Submitted by Bob Petersen on 10/12/2017 - 12:09 pm.

    It’s all about bias

    People are going to give viewpoints to their beliefs, give greater credence to items that fit their narrative, and lessen the importance of things that don’t fit. It’s called confirmation bias. When you have almost all journalists being card carrying Democrats, the slant is going to be to the left. The funny thing is Obama did some things that Trump has done, get mad at journalists he didn’t like – limiting of refugees – among others, but Trump is blasted for it and Obama got a pass. Never mind of the racial division that Obama always did at every chance.
    I’m not saying that Trump has no issues, he clearly does. But Mr. Black clearly has decided to criticize Trump at every turn no matter what when that has never been the case with any Democrat. This is what the write anything criticism is about.

    • Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 10/12/2017 - 12:21 pm.

      there are vast and growing ‘conservative’ media sources

      Fox News, Breitbart, Drudge, InfoWars…just to name a few…..
      The number of white supremacist sites online has grown exponentially since Trump, too.
      And now Sinclair is spreading across the country like a cancer….

      So I never understand why some persist with their LIE that all media is LEFT??? How absurd.

      Perhaps the best they can honestly claim is that many larger newspapers and news sources have offices in large cities, which tend to lean bluer, while rural areas still prefer radio, which tends to be much more red state.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/12/2017 - 01:10 pm.

      So . . .

      You’re okay with the FCC looking at the licenses of the Sinclair Group?

      The first President to have issues with the media was George Washington. The string of Presidents with issues has continued pretty much unbroken since then. I will hazard a guess that all of them–every last one–has wanted to be able to control or censor the media. Did they act on it? Rarely. If the wish was expressed, it was most likely done privately, perhaps venting.

      In the past, some kind of presidential super-ego has kept most Presidents from expressing or acting on their yearnings. With President ID, there are no such restraints.

      • Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 10/12/2017 - 01:26 pm.

        Trump has always ignored rules, laws and boundaries

        1 – I never mentioned the FCC and Sinclair…but I expect the same rules to apply to all involved, and I expect fair, objective and well-researched reporting by all professional journalists. I care not at all about others’ personal ‘opinions’, which are meaningless.

        2 – Not liking or wanting something…is quite different from trying to end it by any means, which has long been Trump’s immature knee jerk reaction and modus operandi.

        “Trump took to Twitter to threaten to ~cancel NBC’s broadcast license~ for reporting stories he doesn’t like.”

        Vox’s Matt Yglesias says that this would be “a terrifying threat, if it were remotely credible.”

        “NBC reports that First Amendment advocates pushed back on the president, including FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who tweeted, “Not how it works,” with a link to the group’s manual for licensing.”

  5. Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 10/12/2017 - 12:11 pm.

    It’s part of the plan

    Trump and Bannon publicly stated in 2016 that their shared goal was to ‘obliterate the federal government’ and they work at that steadily, aided by those–the Koch Bros and the Mercers–who paid almost $1BILLION dollars to get them and Pence into the White House to do their dirty work and to advance their extreme Libertarian and white supremacist agenda.

    If Trump et al blast and minimize the media constantly, when Mueller et al conclude their criminal investigation and go public with the results it will be easier for the Trump regime to refute it all then because they will have been claiming all along that everything media produced is ‘fake news’.

    I hope and pray most Americans are now fully awake and aware and ready to stand up and take action when that time comes to finally remove him/them from office and put him/them in the jail cell (s) he/they so richly deserve. And the REPs had better play along finally.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/12/2017 - 09:28 pm.

      The Koch brothers never gave Trump money – they didn’t want him..

      “Fox News, Breitbart, Drudge, InfoWars” Really? Fox is the only one that has a TV channel… How many left wing TV channels do we have? I can think of at least five right away…

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 10/16/2017 - 10:48 am.


        Is watching TV news Ilya? No one I know, and I’m pushing 40. How many right wing internet fever swamps can you name vs left wing sites, that’s the real question.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/17/2017 - 09:54 pm.

          I do – Fox, sometimes CNN, MSNBC when I need a laugh. I also read HuffPost, Salon, WaPo, NYT, LAT, ThinkProgrerss, the Daily Beast… So honestly, I don’t know many right wing website… the Blaze, Daily Caller, and Breitbart – and that only because it is in the news all the time.

  6. Submitted by Constance Sullivan on 10/12/2017 - 12:29 pm.

    We can now tell when good reporters have done excellent work on the appalling saga of Donald Trump in public life, by gauging how fiercely and ignorantly Trump responds to that work.

    What I miss in Eric’s essay here is a solid definition of “journalist.” One of our problems is that the “alternative-facts” press/media has been blurring the lines between old-fashioned, solid journalism (we know who they are because their reporting holds up to hard questioning) and the flakes who abound on-line, on TV and in print. We have to keep tabs on their false news as well as of Trump’s own outright lies–they opened the door to the Russians last year to churn out fake news meant to divide us and hel Trump win the election.

  7. Submitted by John Edwards on 10/12/2017 - 01:44 pm.

    Eric’s laughable column

    For those, like Eric, who still retain even a smidgen of confidence in the media, I refer you to the Sept. 28, 2017 column by The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald about how the media’s many stories on Russian attempts to hack into U.S voting systems have fallen apart, with AP finally admitting that Wisconsin did not have its system targeted being a stark example.

    From the article: . . . then there was Washington Post reporting Russia had hacked the U.S. electricity grid that never happened. The same paper also had to publish a massive editor’s note after its reporters made claims about Russian infiltration of the internet and spreading of “Fake News.” Or that time when Slate claimed that Trump had created a secret server with a Russian bank, all based on evidence that every other media outlet which looked at it were too embarrassed to get near? Or the time the Guardian was forced to retract its report by Ben Jacobs–which went viral – that casually asserted that WikiLeaks has a long relationship with the Kremlin?Or the time that Fortune retracted suggestions that RT had hacked into and taken over C-SPAN’s network?

    Greenwald did not even mention that CNN had to fire three “journalists” and retract another phony story Russia-Trump story. Undercover journalist James O’Keefe now has video of Nick Dudich, Audience Strategy Editor for the New York Times Video himself on camera (not from an anonymous source) saying the Times “always” slants news with an anti-Trump bias.
    Before the election the New York Times (in Jim Rutenberg’s Aug. 8 column) declared it was dropping any pretext of journalistic objectivity to slant the news in order to defeat Trump.

    It is also telling that NBC claimed the reason it refused to run the story on huge liberal donor Harvey Weinstein was because none of his victims would speak on the record. That did not stop it from relying totally on anonymous sources for Rex Tillerson’s alleged “moron” comment about Trump. By the way, last I heard Tillerson had still not been fired, another false NBC report.

    One has to wonder where Eric gets his news for him to write today’s column. Perhaps it is all from those “respectable news outlets” with “fact checkers.”

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/12/2017 - 05:48 pm.


      So I gather from what you’re saying that Glen Greenwald’s article is proof to you that:

      A) The whole idea that Russia attempted to influence our election is, as the president has said from the beginning, a hoax and a witch hunt;

      B) That the entire “mainstream media” is biased, rotten to the core and doing nothing other than trying to fuel an overthrow of the president; whom, it also appears

      C) You support 100%.

      Is that essentially it?

      Okay . . .

      But now, let’s take a little closer look at the Big Debunker (of everything) you’re using as Exhibit A: The AP story from Sept 27, 2017:

      First, please notice this:

      “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reversed course Tuesday and told Wisconsin officials that the Russian government did not scan the state’s voter registration system, then later reiterated that it still believed it was one of 21 targeted states.”

      Last I checked, the Department of Homeland Security is an office that is under the jurisdiction, purview, control, of the President of the United States . . . In other words, the source of the story — the people who alerted the states and put out the news in the first place — wasn’t the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, or any other news or media organization . . . It was the president’s own Department of Homeland Security . . . An organization most people would consider a trusted source of information, wouldn’t you say?

      Another thing to pay attention to in the AP story is Wisconsin was just one of 21 states contacted and informed of this issue by DHS. I don’t know what the other 19 states involved have had to say about the situation, but I do know what MN’s Secretary of State had to say about it:

      “Statement from Secretary Simon on U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the 2016 election

      “September 22, 2017

      “Today, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon released a statement following a phone conversation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

      ” ‘This afternoon I received a phone call from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security informing me of its determination that Minnesota was among 21 states targeted by entities acting at the behest of the Russian government leading up to the 2016 election. DHS confirmed to my office that there was no breach and no attempt to breach Minnesota’s election system. The entities scanned IP addresses associated with the Secretary of State’s website for vulnerabilities, but attempted no further action. Our system had previously identified these IP addresses scanning our system and blocked them. Scanning from outside entities is commonplace and happens every day, which is why I continue to believe the most serious challenge to the integrity of our election system is the threat of outside forces, including foreign governments, who seek to disrupt and undermine our elections.’ ”

      Please notice this from that statement:

      “DHS confirmed to my office that there was no breach and no attempt to breach Minnesota’s election system. The entities scanned IP addresses associated with the Secretary of State’s website for vulnerabilities, but attempted no further action. Our system had previously identified these IP addresses scanning our system and blocked them.”

      Unlike in Wisconsin (I guess), on Sept 22, the DHS confirmed that, here in Minnesota, there was no breach and no attempt to breach . . .

      But . . . “entities acting at the behest of the Russian government . . . scanned IP addresses associated with the Secretary of State’s website for vulnerabilities, but attempted no further action.”

      So, according to the president’s DHS and the Sec of State there was no hacking of our election system (just like in Wisconsin) but Russian-related hackers WE’RE scanning for VULNERABILITIES (just like in Wisconsin?) but, apparently, didn’t find any (because they were blocked) and went away.

      Does that also suggest or prove to you that “nothing happened” and that the entire “Russian interference” and possible campaign “collusion” situation and the ongoing congressional and special prosecutor investigations are nothing more than a waste of taxpayer’s money that wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for “fake media” making up stories?

      And speaking of fact checkers that you imply are as fake, phony, unreliable as any of the “respectable news outlets” Eric uses, which respectable new outlets and fact checkers do you use?

  8. Submitted by Jeff Michaels on 10/12/2017 - 04:12 pm.

    The Donald Won And The Media Was Humiliated

    To his credit, Eric knows how to generate response to his writing. It is a trait shared by Donald Trump. The trick is to be outrageous.

    The president has every right to be contemptuous of the establishment news media. Members did everything they could to defeat Trump in 2016 and they failed miserably. The Donald left the media beaten, bleeding and groveling in the gutter. The establishment news media had to face the reality they were whipped by a TV huckster. And they still can’t accept the humiliation and embarrassment.

    There is no greater joy than a You Tube visit to watch reaction of reporters on election night as they try to explain how they could have been so wrong. The performance of the establishment news media during the 2016 presidential election was a classic example of arrogance and ignorance.

    The news media was also revealed to be ineffective and inadequate. The performance gave an added dimension to the definition impotent. And members still can’t come to accept that reality.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/13/2017 - 09:50 am.

      No Greater Joy?

      “The news media was also revealed to be ineffective and inadequate.” In a democracy, a free and independent news media is regarded as an essential check on governmental excess. What is left if they are “impotent?” Our only insight into how or whether our government–not “the” government, but “our” government is functioning is what those in power want us to know. I’m not even going to pose it as a rhetorical question: That is a bad thing.

      This week, the President tweeted a video that showed Forest Service employees clearing a road in Puerto Rico. That segment was cut off just before it would have shown one of those officials praising the local residents for the work they were doing to help clear that road. It’s pretty obvious why that editing decision was made. Puerto Ricans doing their own recovery work does not fit in with the official narrative. So, anyone seeing the video is left with the impression that the President wants them to see. That impression is fundamentally false, but it will be shaping attitudes towards further disaster relief to 3 million American citizens, as well as future policies towards the state.

      “The Donald left the media beaten, bleeding and groveling in the gutter. The establishment news media had to face the reality they were whipped by a TV huckster. And they still can’t accept the humiliation and embarrassment.” I always thought that reveling in someone else’s defeat or humiliation was ill-mannered at best, highly unethical at worst. A new paradigm has taken over.

  9. Submitted by Joe Musich on 10/12/2017 - 08:52 pm.

    Thanks Eric

    The only person in this dynamic who says what he wants is the naked Emperor ! And as to the media being against Trump, that is a red herring gigantic enough to feed the planet for decades if we can preserve it as food sources run out. But every ostrich’s Head has to eventually come from under the sand to breath. Then the shock will come from the stench on the nation as it rots from the head down. The facts are not there to defend the man, his policies and the direction his supporters want tontake the majority of us. Look no further then the Kansas miracle. My disbelief of the words coming out of the man’s mouth regarding Puerto Rico needing to fend for itself. However I guess that means Kansas will have to get it’s butt out of it’s self created jam. Need im point out that is not the case with Puerto Rico.

  10. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/12/2017 - 09:27 pm.

    It looks like Mr. Black lives in a bubble. Really, all I have to say to prove him wrong is “hands up, don’t shoot” but other commenters provided enough examples.

    It is obvious to any impartial observer that the media is out there to get Trump. From constantly reporting on some “leaked” facts and real or imagined infighting to being upset about his wife’s clothing to just plain calling him fascist, racist, sexist, etc. without a shred of evidence based on his actions (and questionable evidence of his words) – that desire is clear. In fact, if I were Trump, I would leak some ridiculous things to the media just to make fun of them later when they bite and publish it (I can only guess that reported Trump’s desire to increase our nuclear arsenal tenfold was one of those things).

    And as for those “fact-checking” places, how many of them are NOT leaning democratic? How many of them did NOT wish Hillary won? So can we trust them? And no, it’s not just a guess because I saw quite a few false labels that Trump got but did not deserve.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/13/2017 - 12:30 pm.

      The war on fact checkers

      What is this semi-new lockstep party line attack on fact checking? I guess I understand the (endless) aspersions that several news organization seem to be “leaning democratic” (unlike whichever news organizations you and others prefer may tend to “lean republican”), but what is it with this morphing of that perspective into the fact checking realm?

      I mean, come on . . . All those people are trying to do (those “toiling away in obscurity” at fact checking organizations) is keep track of the flood of rhetoric from politicians (Republican AND Democratic), sort through it and check it against as much empirical, previously recorded information as they can so you and I and anyone else who’s interested can have one of those (more) calm and respectful conversations you regularly call for.

      The way I see it, the people doing that work are providing a valuable service that frees the rest of us from having to do all that digging, comparing and coming to factual as possible conclusions.

      Here, for example, is a link to Politifact’s “Trump File:”

      Here are some examples of recent postings (including links to the full story): Which of them do you consider “false labels that Trump got but [does] not deserve” or the result of the people at Politifact being miffed because Hillary didn’t win, or their general “Democratic leanings”?

      DT: “The NFL is ‘getting massive tax breaks.’ ”

      Politifact: Mostly True (The league isn’t, but their stadiums are)

      DT: “The Obama administration ‘borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet, we picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market. … Maybe in a sense we’re reducing debt.’ ”

      Politifact: False (Little link between the two)

      DT: “Bob Corker gave us the Iran Deal.”

      Politifact: False (Way off the mark)

      DT: ” ‘No, I don’t benefit, I don’t benefit’ from his tax proposal.”

      Politifact: False (Let’s count the ways)

      DT: “Ending the estate tax would ‘protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer.’ ”

      Politifact: Pants on Fire! (More like 80 this year)

      DT: “Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time.”

      Politifact: Mostly True (Overall growth similar to Obama era, but “reshoring” stronger)

      DT: “In 1986, President Ronald Reagan” cut the business tax rate to 34 percent and ‘it worked — our economy boomed, the middle class thrived and median family income increased.’ ”

      Politifact: Mostly False (‘Puffery’ to attribute major economic gains to a single tax cut)

      DT: “We have become an energy exporter for the first time ever just recently.”

      Politifact: False (Many ways to read claim; always wrong)

      And, while were at it, what do you think about the overall summary of the True/False ratings of the president’s public statements at the top of that page (32% some degree of True; 68% some degree of False)?

      Do you agree that the president has a “stronger than usual propensity to make false statements,” or do you think that’s “normal” (for a world leader), or the fact checking can’t be trusted?

      And, as I’ve taken to asking those who seem to have hopped on the “fake fact checkers” bandwagon lately, which fact checkers do you rely on?

      Or do you think all fact checkers are suspect and that we should all spend most of our free time trying to figure out and prove (as best we can) to ourselves and others that, for example, the president and his family would indeed benefit (greatly) from his administration’s income and estate tax proposals even though he says that he would not?

      And, finally, is fact checking just fact checking, or is any fact checking organization that points out unfavorable things about a person’s “preferred representative” untrustworthy because they are violating what one assumes is their “professional code of ethics” out of something as petty as political spite?

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/15/2017 - 09:37 pm.

        I do not want to waste my time now going through all fact-checking sites and trying to find bias but here is a list I sent to WaPo fact checkers in November 2016 (as you can see, there were plenty of things to question…):

        I read your analysis of the third debate and want to ask you a few questions.
        1. Trump said that an abortion may be performed in the last days before birth and you said that it doesn’t really happen. Don’t you think that you substituted the statement? He said it can happen while you analyzed a supposed “it happens” statement which Trump actually never said.
        2. Clinton said that her economic plan was analyzed by independent experts. Why didn’t you say that she was wrong to use multiple for the word “expert?”
        3. Trump said that the border patrol agents endorsed him and again, you substituted his statement because he never said that agency endorsed him. You agreed that the union representing patrol agents endorsed him which is much closer to his statement than bringing up the entire agency.
        4. Trump said that Clinton will take Syrian refugees and we have no idea who they are and they are ISIS aligned. You referred to the State Department information. Are they always truthful?

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/15/2017 - 09:38 pm.

        Unfortunately, Trump spins facts but so does every politician. Trump may be doing it more because he argues about everything including inconsequential things such as which inauguration was the largest and that is what makes him more prone to stating incorrect things. My guess is that he is doing it because he is not a politician who never do that since it is not worth it. But when it comes to significant issues, he is not worse than others; he is just scrutinized more than others (I think many fact checkers go by inquiries sent to them and there are many more about Trump), partially because of the fact that I mentioned above and partially because of the media bias.

        To answer your questions, yes, all fact checkers are suspect, just like anything that comes from one source/side.

        • Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/16/2017 - 11:55 am.

          Nice try

          “For all practical purposes,” your replies are non-answers.

          Or they’re an extension of the overall absurdity that all media and news outlets, except an unnamed few, are “democratic” or “left,” which is just another way of saying they’re not in agreement with today’s conservative point of view.

          And, as an extension of that, saying all fact checkers are suspect and shouldn’t be trusted or used is just another way of saying there ARE no conservative fact checking organizations, therefore all fact checkers are biased.

          For those reasons you dismiss the research that says the President of the United States doesn’t tell the truth more than two-thirds of the time and excuse that by saying “all politicians spin things,” making no distinction between “all politicians” and the “leader of the free world.”

          I suspect that if I asked the question (of everyone), “Would you be okay with today’s Justice Department and the courts taking stronger action against potentially libelous or seditious communication by journalists and news organizations,” that you might say, “Yes. I would be okay with that.”

          I wonder if you ever think about the way in which acquiescing to that way of thinking — and publicly re-communicating that vein of rhetoric — is not that far-removed from something I was convinced you think is dangerous and in need of being guarded against at all times.

          Or, put another way, several news organizations (throughout the world) have reported that Vladamir Putin simply imprisons or kills journalists and leaders of what he considers to be seditious news organizations the same way he gets rid of any political rival he perceives as a threat.

          Do you consider the news organizations that report those things to be suspect too? Is it likely that Vladamir Putin is the victim of slander on the part of the “far left” news outlets of the world?

          Is he just spinning things like all politicians do when he denies those or any other allegations that call his authority and actions (Crimea, Ukraine, 2016 US election) into question?

          Do you agree with those in Russia who believe, defend and vote for him?

          Or, let me guess . . . There’s a good chance you see those questions as (completely) absurd “democratic” questions that have no relevance because this is America — not the remnant of the Soviet Union — and, therefore, need not be “dignified” with a straight answer.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/17/2017 - 09:52 pm.

            You asked me to give examples of fact checkers not being objective or fair and that is what I did. How is it not a reply?

            “overall absurdity that all media and news outlets, except an unnamed few, are “democratic” or “left.” It’s based on research – statistically almost all journalists are left leaning and so are colleges that teach journalists… As I pointed out, there is only one right of center TV channel and many left of center. And I am not aware of any big newspaper that is right-leaning… And that makes sense: most media are produced in the big cities which are reliably left…

            “saying all fact checkers are suspect and shouldn’t be trusted or used is just another way of saying there ARE no conservative fact checking organizations, therefore all fact checkers are biased.” So what if it is true? By the way, conservative fact checking organizations would be biased, too…

            “For those reasons you dismiss the research that says the President of the United States doesn’t tell the truth more than two-thirds of the time and excuse that by saying “all politicians spin things,” making no distinction between “all politicians” and the “leader of the free world.” “All politicians” includes all presidents of the USA… And I do not necessarily dismiss research about Trump’s telling the truth or not – I just explained it. But at least he is doing what he promised, right?

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/17/2017 - 09:53 pm.

            “I suspect that if I asked the question (of everyone), “Would you be okay with today’s Justice Department and the courts taking stronger action against potentially libelous or seditious communication by journalists and news organizations,” that you might say, “Yes. I would be okay with that.” Actually not… Here is the problem –you don’t follow what I am saying. I think it is irresponsible of journalists to knowingly tell lies, hide the truth, or even tell things that they are not completely sure of (all those things that Mr. Black says they should not be doing and are not doing when unfortunately they do – see all the examples here) to promote their agenda but the only time when they should be prosecuted is when they expose national secrets. Loose lips sink ships… Would you support prosecuting a journalist who would have published a D-Day date and location prior to the actual event?

  11. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/12/2017 - 10:28 pm.

    My 2¢

    I have to (sort of) agree with Jeff Michaels’ assertion that the news media have been ineffective and inadequate regarding the Trump candidacy and presidency. It took far too long for mainstream media to label Trump as the neofascist demagogue that he has proved himself to be. Television, in particular, failed to label Trump lies as the outright lies they were. That’s the inadequate part.

    As for ineffectiveness, well… We live in a culture that has disparaged the intellect almost from the beginning. Add that trait to a generation of boomers, many of whom are themselves products of white privilege that, while much less than what Trump enjoyed (and enjoys) is just as genuine, and who are as poorly educated, racist and misogynist as Trump, and it’s not that difficult to see why factual stories written by journalists would be dismissed out of hand by True Believers who’ve consumed the Trump snake oil by the quart.

    Journalists have turned out to be no better than the rest of us, in most cases, at forecasting the future, which accounts for their dismay (shared by yours truly and a good many others, including some journalists) when it became apparent that a genuine sexual predator and proud ignoramus had been elected to the presidency, one whose own admitted behavior was essentially the same as current pariah Harvey Weinstein. That Trump likely had fewer opportunities than Weinstein to grope and otherwise assault starlets does nothing to diminish his sleazy behavior and appalling attitude regarding women.

    Like virtually every president, including Obama, Trump would like nothing but laudatory articles about him to appear in the press, and to receive nothing but favorable coverage from television news. As RB Holbrook suggests, issues with the press go back about as far as you’d like to go (I suggest Gutenberg and the invention of printing). Every president has wanted to control the media of his day. Some had somewhat more success than others, but none were really successful, and that’s largely due to a very clear 1st Amendment guarantee that’s been consistently upheld by the courts, including the SCOTUS.

    Right wing radio stations, FOX news, a plethora of websites and publications, are all monuments to the 1st Amendment. Were that not the case, those “liberal” presidents so decried by some of our commentators would have seen to it that pundits who like to call themselves “conservative” would long ago have found themselves in prison.

  12. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 10/13/2017 - 07:16 am.

    The mainstream media engages in two distinct types of mendacity.

    We have outright liars, like Dan Rather, willful refusal to tell uncomfortable truth, like NBC / Weinstein, the use of “unnamed sources” they know are motivated by grudges and other techniques used to create what has come to be known as “fake news”.

    Then we have those that practice the lie of omission, like NPR. It is just as bad to create stories, that while technically truthful, ignore important context and counterpoint. Also just as bad is willfully steering clear of stories that create doubt of the false narritive being perpetuated by other media.

    With all due respect, writers engaged in near hysterical anti-Trump campaigns are not the proper choice for MSM apologies. It’s not just Mr. Black, we see reporters lose their minds on social media every day.

    The truth is out there; it’s just become a job to find it.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/13/2017 - 12:19 pm.

      I just have to keep asking

      The “mainstream media is bogus” meme is, of course, common as dirt these days, but the thing I always want to know from those who express it is, where (or where) should we turn for, as you put it, “The truth [that] is out there”?

      That’s the thing I never hear from those who, like clockwork, step in to any “media-centric conversation” (this is, after all, a column about whether or not journalists are free to say whatever they want) to say that “mainstream media is a lie machine,” can’t be trusted, shouldn’t be taken as any kind of reflection of what’s really happening, etc..

      While there seems to be no lack of expertise on that aspect of the conversation — and while the implication is that there ARE media sources, news outlets (and fact checkers, maybe) that CAN be trusted — those doing the expressing are all very secretive and protective of their names and locations.

      In short, where are the true and reputable sources that are proving mainstream media is bogus and that their news and views are the truth?

      (And by the way . . . I’m not just asking you. I’m asking everyone who subscribes to the mainstream media is bogus idea. If you all know where it is, quit messing around and tell us where to go for the truth.)

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 10/13/2017 - 02:11 pm.

        There is no one source one can trust; never was. Informed conclusions are the work of intelligent information gathering, sifting and sorting.

        I read many mainstream news sources, right wing and leftist internet sites and various think tanks and pundits, left and right. I take the information they present, test it against other sources and come to a conclusion.

        Then there are sources that are completely worthless. Sites like CNN, New Republic, Mother Jones, Info wars, and usually Brietbart, although since the editor was a high ranking White House confidant there is something of value there, at keast for the present. I dont waste my time with them.

        • Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/13/2017 - 03:31 pm.


          Fair enough . . .


        • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 10/13/2017 - 08:37 pm.

          “outright liars like Dan Rather’

          “We have outright liars, like Dan Rather, . . . ”

          I think you’ll find that comment unsupportable, if “liar” means “someone who deliberately attempts to deceive by intentionally stating something he knows or believes to be false.”
          Dan Rather may have been naive or “duped” but he never intentionally attempted to deceive nor did he intentionally state anything he knew or even believed to be false.

          I believe Dan Rather to be a journalist of high integrity who honorably withdrew or retired from his profession after a firestorm of controversy over the “Killian papers” which could not be authenticated but were never proven to be forged or false. I assume they were forged. The issue was whether George W. Bush got special privileged treatment to exemption from the draft because his family was wealthy and well connected. I don’t think there’s any debate on the point that he did. Dan Rather was only doing his job in reporting what he believed was authentic evidence which proved that point. Do I have to remind you what a free pass the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” got from the press or the public in an election vilifying a true war hero during that War?

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/15/2017 - 09:40 pm.

            Is there a difference between legal and illegal immigrants? Does media distinguish among them? Yes, the truth is out there, we just should learn to go over our confirmation biases…

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/15/2017 - 09:39 pm.

          Thank you – this is also how I operate, too: check multiple sources, compare, and then apply my critical thinking to determine the outcome. Actually, the fact that we are commenting here on MinnPost proves this point.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 10/15/2017 - 03:34 pm.


      Its always easy to critique and criticize, especially when the the facts don’t support a preconceived notion. Throwing all kinds of folks, media organizations, under the bus as a group, but not providing examples of their so called continued bias, lies, or journalistic transgressions is relevant to the propaganda classification. So as a viewer evaluating an opinion,seems there is nothing substantiated, logic, or trend revealing, so it more or less falls in the, rant bucket. Yes the truth is out here, but you need to be open to it. Because for many the truth she hurts, if their mind is open enough!

  13. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/13/2017 - 08:31 am.

    Reality wins in the end.The

    Reality wins in the end.

    The difference is how prepared you were for reality smacking you in the face.

    For instance the President promised ““We’re going to have insurance for everybody, there was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

    In just a few short months, we’ll see whether there is insurance for everybody, and if people can’t pay for it they still get it.

    The timeline for undeniable climate change is within a decade. The timeline for the reality of other issues on the table could be measured in days or months, or years. But in the end, reality wins.

    And by the way, the “horse race” type of election analysis is not really news–it’s filler in anticipation of news.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/15/2017 - 09:41 pm.

      “The timeline for undeniable climate change is within a decade.” I thought it was a century… But yes, reality will win, just like it won after we were warned that we would run out of oil or that planes would be falling down on 1/1/2000…

  14. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/13/2017 - 10:15 am.

    Stop Picking on the President!

    “[J]ust plain calling him fascist, racist, sexist, etc. without a shred of evidence based on his actions (and questionable evidence of his words) . . .” The “questionable evidence” of his racism and sexism (I don’t think he has the attention span to be a fascist) consists of his words and actions. What else is there? How many lawsuits against his company for housing discrimination need to be brought, or how many racist newspaper ads does he have to run, before the evidence stops being “questionable?” How many women does he have to grope?

    “In fact, if I were Trump, I would leak some ridiculous things to the media just to make fun of them later when they bite and publish it . . .” I would hope the President would realize that he has more important things to do than playing “gotcha!” with the media. Maintaining the dignity of the office should be one of them.

    “And no, it’s not just a guess because I saw quite a few false labels that Trump got but did not deserve.” Examples? Please be specific.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 10/14/2017 - 03:53 pm.

      “What else is there? How many lawsuits against his company for housing discrimination need to be brought, or how many racist newspaper ads does he have to run, before the evidence stops being “questionable?” How many women does he have to grope?” Lawsuits do not prove any wrongdoing and in this case even a judgment against him will not (re: recent lawsuit in Minnesota against a bank in Chaska, if I remember correctly) – those are all business decisions. Can you refer me to his racist ads? And what does groping women, while unacceptable and disgusting, have to do with being sexist? On this basis you can say that having sex with women is sexist…Even Weinstein is not accused of being sexist…

      “I would hope the President would realize that he has more important things to do than playing “gotcha!” with the media. Maintaining the dignity of the office should be one of them.” Totally agree. But I also think that the media has more important things than playing “gotcha” with Trump and should maintain its dignity. On the other hand, can Trump have some fun?

      Please see my reply to Mr. Willy for examples of fact checkers bias.

  15. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 10/14/2017 - 01:20 pm.

    Well ERic

    Depending on who is looking, you get to be the: censor, and editor in chief. Just saying! 🙂

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/17/2017 - 10:38 am.


    The tendency to self censor has been so strong over the last 5 or 6 decades that politicians hardly had to worry. Reading or watching mainstream/corporate media over the last 60 years one could easily get the impression that routine liars like Bush, Reagan, Cheney, Gingrich, the Heritage Foundation and the Center for the American Experience; and all manor of associated sociopaths and damaged personalities are and have been perfectly legitimate actors upon the political stage.

    Thirty years AFTER Vietnam our media snapped to attention and marched the nation into Iraq as if no government ever lies. So no, careless reporters with no fear of consequences are not the problem with the mainstream news in America.

    Trump is just soooooo completely over the top, and more importantly disconnected from both the Democratic and Republican elites, that the media are actually reporting his actions. I’ve always said that had the Republican elite fully embraced Trump, the media would not have been nearly as critical as they have been.

    We recently had a discussion regarding the question of whether Trump or Bush has actually done the most damage, and we would be correct to point out that unlike Bush, Trump hasn’t actually launched the nation into a Great Recession or an Iraq War. But that begs the question: “Where was the media during Bush’s presidency?” The difference between Bush and Trump is that Bush was embraced by the Party lock stock and barrel as it were. It would seem that the “courage” of our fearless media may be modulated by a presidents affiliation with the recognized political elite rather than actual policy or behavior. I really believe that if the Republican were actually united rather than fragmented and disintegrating, and if they were united around Trump the way they were Reagan and the Bush’s… coverage would very different and much less openly critical.

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