The Editor in Chief of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) just gave America another reason to hate and distrust the corporate media.
In a Sunday morning interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Gerard Baker, who heads up editorial operations at the nation’s largest newspaper (by circulation), said that he’s not going to allow his reporters and editors to classify Donald Trump’s false statements as “lies.”
“I’d be careful about using the word ‘lie,’ Baker said. “‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”
I think it’s then up to the reader to make up their own mind to say, ‘This is what Donald Trump says. This is what a reliable, trustworthy news organization reports. And you know what? I don’t think that’s true,’” he continued.
At a time when more American news consumers are trying to discern what’s truthful from what’s “fake news,” Baker’s position is particularly alarming, given Trump’s propensity for lying and obfuscating the truth on an almost daily basis. Earlier this year, Politico Magazine analyzed five hours of footage of Trump’s campaign stump speeches, interviews, and press conference, reporters found that the President-elect told a lie once every three minutes and 15 seconds, on average.
“In raw numbers, that’s 87 erroneous statements in five days,” Politico reported.
In addition to Baker’s irresponsible refusal to hold the next President of the United States accountable, he’s also deliberately ignoring the dictionary definition of a lie. While the first definition of “lie” on Dictionary.com implies intent to mislead, another acceptable definition of the word is merely “an inaccurate or false statement; a falsehood.”
Some of Trump’s most notorious lies include his propagation of the “birther” conspiracy theory circa 2011 and 2012, in which the former reality TV host famously accused President Obama of being of foreign descent, making him ineligible to be president.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2012
I want to see @BarackObama's college records to see how he listed his place of birth in the application.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2012
Trump continues to lie regularly on his Twitter account, most notably tweeting that nobody complained about Russian meddling in the election until after voting was done (allegations of Russian election interference were repeatedly in the news prior to the election), that he only lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton because “millions” of undocumented immigrants voted illegally (they didn’t), and that “large scale voter fraud” happened in multiple states during the election (only four total voters were found to have committed voter fraud in 2016).
These and other statements have been rated “Pants on fire” by Politifact, which has archived four pages over “Pants on fire” statements by the President-elect throughout the election cycle.
Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Send him an email at [email protected], and follow his work on the Public Banking Institute blog.