Calling Trump a Liar: Cut the Crap, Maggie

Let’s talk about the press for a moment…

There needs to be an overhaul of journalism classes and training, to reflect changes in the world in recent years. I say this because relatively skilled journalists seem confused on exactly what their job is, even though it is as simple as can be. Consider this truly frightening Tweet from Maggie Haberman of the New York Times from yesterday to be a warning shot.

I said frightening, and I meant exactly that. Maggie Haberman is a highly skilled and highly regarded journalist of some renown. This is not just the ravings of a pretend Twitter “journalist,” but rather, someone we should be able to depend on for facts. And yet, look at her approach to whether or not Donald Trump lies.

Donald Trump is the worst liar I have ever seen in politics and I lived through Watergate and Iran-Contra. Trump is pathological in his lying; he lies as often as he draws breath. it is who he is. And obsessing over what he supposedly believes as a nexus as to whether or not something is a lie is just absurd. We’re talking about reporting Trump’s untrue statements here; we’re not talking about convicting him of a murder that could get him a lethal injection.

It’s this simple, Maggie Haberman and other journalists. If he says something untrue, it’s a lie. It doesn’t matter if you THINK he might actually believe his lies to be true. You’re not a psychologist or a psychiatrist; you are not in a position to determine his level of delusion. Use the “reasonable person” standard, which is common in the law when it comes to determining motive. If he says it and a “reasonable person” would know it to be untrue, it is a lie. Not a “fib” or a “falsehood” or an “untruth.” It is a LIE.

TRUMP LIES. That’s just a fact. Every time he speaks, there is an element of untruth in what he says. And he does it for a reason; facts and the truth do not serve him well, and Trump is all about what serves him. He has proven that he’s not interested in serving the American people.

This goes along with the modern journalist’s tendency to place “fairness” above all else, which is simply not compatible with the mission of journalists, which is to report what’s happening using facts. Sometimes, facts are not “fair.” Not only that, but being fair is often not factual. It might seem unfair, but calling Trump’s most faithful followers “deplorable” is not inaccurate. They support everything he does, even when he takes children away from their families under cover of immigration law. What else do you call them? Calling Trumpies “disaffected white working class” is unfair because white people have never been “disaffected” in the history of this country.

My point is, stick to facts and ditch the whole “fairness” trope. It’s insane. Fox News makes up news out of whole cloth. Their people lie to their viewers and readers as a matter of course. Calling most of their hosts “liars” is not unfair, it’s a fact. Likewise, it’s only “difficult to label” Trump a liar if you are searching for a premise to NOT call him that. And that is unfair to readers.

Maggie Haberman, Donald Trump is a liar. He’s been a liar for a half century or more. It’s in his DNA. If you’re going to tell the truth, you have to call him “liar.” He has control of the nuclear button now; if you think he’s unstable, find some experts and prove it. But don’t use your amateur diagnosis as a rationale to avoid the fact that he is a liar.

Also published on Medium.

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