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The [Thursday] Papers

Toronto Star hero reporter Daniel Dale on the Trump Is A Pathological Liar Beat:

"It started very accidentally. It was September 2016, late in the campaign, and I was just frustrated that it seemed like Trump's incessant dishonesty wasn't being treated as a central story. Reporters would sometimes fact-check him on Twitter, but if you were to read the next day's paper, or watch cable news or network news, the dishonesty just wasn't being discussed as a story in and of itself."

As I wrote so many times during the campaign, you could follow Dale - and others - on Twitter and track just how dishonest Trump was night after night, and just how racist his rallies were night after night, and see nothing about either the next day (or even that night!) in mainstream newspapers.

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"I think for a long time, and even now, when those people see coverage that doesn't even acknowledge this very obvious and very important thing that they're seeing, it bothers them and makes them feel like their media entities are failing them. So just to have someone at a mainstream media outlet pointing out what these people are noticing, I think, is a relief for a lot of people. And I think for others, they simply want to know the information. So even if they know that Trump is a serial liar in general, they may not know like how he's deceiving them in particular about immigration or about NAFTA. And so I have a lot of people being like, 'Thanks for explaining that.' I think a lot of people feel it's an educational service that helps them better understand what's going on in the government and in the White House."

What's extraordinary about this entirely correct statement is that it's considered extraordinary that a mainstream reporter would point out a president's lies. You'd think that'd be the bread-and-butter of reporters, but no.

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"I think in many cases, he's lying just because that's how his brain works. He's been a liar for decades. But I think with the midterms, it was a concerted, strategic effort to use dishonesty as a campaign strategy, especially on immigration. So I think that was a big cause for acceleration."

America elected a president with an entirely known record of making shit up. And yet, it took a lot of the media a long time to catch up with that fact. Some still haven't - even as recently as the midterms.

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"There are a lot of cases where I feel like I can tell that he knows he's making it up. And there's some where he clearly knows. One example that comes to mind: At campaign rallies, for a while he'd be bashing the media and he would look to the cameras in the back of the room and point and be like, 'Look at that, CNN just turned its camera off. You see, the red light just went on . . . '

"Of course, that didn't happen. That has never happened, to my knowledge. CNN has never angrily turned off its camera when he was criticizing CNN or the media. And so he's literally looking his supporters in the eye and pointing at something in the room that is not happening and telling them that it's happening. And so for people who say, 'Oh, he believes all these, he's just delusional,' I think there are cases like that where he's clearly deliberately making it up."

Of course he is. He has his set pieces. His rallies are like The Rocky Horror Picture Show or a classic rock band's greatest hit tours. "I hope he does The Snake," his fans surely say.

But you know what? The familiarity and frequency of it shouldn't mitigate or mute the significance of it. That's what folks mean by the term "normalization." In this case, Trump's lies didn't even have to be "normalized" because they were never accounted for in the first place, except by Dale and a few others.

I guess when a president is caught lying a single time, it's huge news, but when he lies multiple times a day, it's not news at all.

To me, every single lie a president tells should be the news of the day, short of war.

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The question:

"You've long lamented on Twitter that reporters don't challenge Trump directly on his dishonesty enough when they're interviewing him or asking him questions at a press conference. I do sometimes feel like there's this fantasy that if someone would just ask him a particular 'gotcha' question, like 'How does Obamacare work?,' the scales would fall from America's eyes and his supporters would see him for the con man he really is. But of course he's a master deflector and dissembler. Do you think the approach you describe him would actually get results?"

Dale: "It's hard to know exactly, but I think we have to try at least once, or at least a couple times. There have been literally dozens of interviews where the attitude has been, 'Let's just let him talk. Our job is to find out what's in his brain.' I think, at this point, four years into his current political life, the returns from that approach have been exhausted. Like, why not one time - it doesn't have to be your exclusive interview where you're worried about him storming out of the room or kicking you out of the Oval Office - why not during one of his informal gaggles, when he's boarding Marine One, challenge him on the lie he told the day before, or challenge him in the moment on the lie that he's telling then? And even little ones, I think, would be educational. 'Mr. President, why did you say your father was born in Germany when he was born in New York?' I think it would be educational just to hear what he had to say. I don't expect that a more confrontational approach would result in him being dramatically exposed and no one supporting him anymore. But I just think we can learn something from it, and it just hasn't been tried."

Right. You'd think Trump has been put to the test over and over, and yet, he hardly has at all! I used to say the same thing about Richard M. Daley and then Rahm Emanuel: You'd think they were peppered all the time with questions from the media, and in fact Daley held a press conference almost every day. But you know what? They weren't! The number of questions were limited, there were hardly ever any follow-ups, and they simply manipulated the media for their own purposes knowing how easily they could outsmart them. Trump has barely faced any face-to-face scrutiny at all.

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The question: "Do you think American journalists are more deferential in their approach than their Canadian or international counterparts?"

Dale: "I don't think American journalists are generally more deferential - the U.S. has some of the most fearless, aggressive reporters there are. I think there's a level of deference, though, with the presidency that you don't often see in Canada with anyone."

Agreed, but what Dale is probably not familiar with is how much deference is afforded chief executives at the state and local level, and even more so with corporate chieftains.

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"There's something that seems to happen when people go into the Oval Office or when they're dealing with him, where you call him "Sir" a lot, you sort of gently prod him if he says something wrong, but never directly. And I don't know if it's relationship management, wanting to get the next interview, or a concern about being seen as biased by his supporters or being blasted by him on Twitter, but I think it's been consistently softer than I think it needs to be, at least when it comes to one-on-one interactions with him."

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The question: "Since Trump came onto the scene, there's been a lot of debate among journalists about when to call what he does 'lying.' Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, said last year: 'The word lie is very powerful. For one thing, it assumes that someone knew the statement was false, another reason to use the word judiciously is that our readers could end up focusing more on our use of the word than on what was said. And also, using lie repeatedly could feed the mistaken notion that we're taking political sides. That's not our role.' What do you think of that justification?"

Before we get to Dale, I'm going to answer: Baquet's reasoning is absurd. Yes, the word "lie" is very powerful. So what? Don't be afraid of it, Dean. We are taught to use the strongest words the truth allows in our writing and reporting. Make the story as big as it is.

And yes, it's true that the word "lie" imputes intent. How is the intent of Trump under question at this point on lies he repeats even after they've been repeatedly debunked? Trump himself has been caught fessing up to lying because it works.

Then, the idea that using the word "lie" will cause readers to focus more on the Times using the word than the underlying false claim? Could your workplace be more self-absorbed? You don't hedge on the truth because you are worried about the perceptions of your readers. They can take it!

And the idea that using the word lie every time the president lies is not a good idea because it feeds into some sort of notion that you are "taking sides?" You should take sides! Take the side of the truth. My god.

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Here's what Dale said:

"I think our job as journalists is to call things what they are. And so if someone commits 100 crimes, you don't say, 'We're gonna call the first two crimes and the second one' - I don't know what the softer word would be - non-legal behavior.' The thing with Trump is that his relentlessness in lying works to his advantage, precisely because of that mind-set: You if we use the word 'lie' 100 times in a week, you know, people are gonna think we're biased or the word is gonna lose its power. But, to me, if there's 100 lies, you use the word 'lie' 100 times. I myself use the term 'false claim' a lot. My database is 'The Database of False Claims,' because I do think it's fair to say we don't know in every case that he's deliberate rather than just ignorant of the policy or confused about something. But if there are 100 lies, then I think we need to use the word. And I think to not do it out of some fear that it's gonna lose its power or we're gonna be wrongly accused of bias, I think that lets him win with lying."

Dean Baquet, you are Today's Worst Person In American Media.

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The Mueller Report
I know most of y'all have real jobs, but everybody in America - the world - should read the Mueller report. My god.

So far, starting with Barr and rolling into the report's contents . . . it's right in our face, people.

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Julian Assange was not available for comment.

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Don't forget, Trump refused to sit for an interview with Mueller, in large part because his aides were quite certain he would perjure himself. In my mind, Mueller went soft on this because the daylight between an obstruction prosecution and declination was the inability of the special prosecutor to glean Trump's intent. Really? (Mueller also says in the report that the length of time it would have taken to force Trump to testify was not, in his mind, worth it. The obstruction worked!)

Something else in Trump's favor: On many occasions he attempted to obstruct justice, his aides ignored his orders, saving him from himself. But isn't attempted obstruction the same as obstruction? Mueller also states in the report that there was evidence he was unable to gather - while also stating that Trump's aides often impeded the investigation themselves.

It seems to me that Mueller set a timeline - say, the midterms - and artificially decided when to end the investigation, letting Team Trump run out the clock.

After all, the Iran-Contra investigation went on for seven years before Bill Barr helped George H.W. Bush shut it down and pardon various high-level parties.

I'm not saying I wanted to see Mueller keep going even past Trump's first term, but then prosecute the motherfucker like you would any other mope on the street and use the leverage to force the issue.

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I wonder how Patrick Fitzgerald would have handled this case.

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Finally (for now), if what's in this report - as well as everything else we know about the president - isn't enough to impeach and remove him, then nothing will ever be enough to impeach and remove a president. But it's so typical of Democrats, whose hallmark is to shape policy and actions according to their fears of how they'll be perceived and attacked by Republicans instead of acting on the principles of their purported beliefs and values - and in this case, the beliefs and values the nation as a whole purports to have.

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There's Always A Family Guy Cutaway

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ChicagoReddit

I live on N Milwaukee Ave. Why is there no S Milwaukee Ave? Why have the N at all? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Chicago E-Skate Group Ride.

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BeachBook

How A Chicago Woman Fell Victim To Candida Auris, A Drug-Resistant Fungus.

And how Northwestern Memorial Hospital is acting despicably. And by the way, New York Times reporter, pick up the damn phone and stop sending e-mails for comment. Make them say it to your face.

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The Truth About Dentistry.

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TweetWood
A non-Mueller, non-Barr sampling.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Unimpeachable.



Permalink

Posted on April 18, 2019


MUSIC - Remembering Juice WRLD.
TV - This Is Why Children's TV Is So Weird.
POLITICS - Protocols Of The Elders Of The Republican Party.
SPORTS - The Bears Are (Not) Back, Baby!

BOOKS - Americans Still Wrong About Climate Change.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Confessions Of A Chicago Tour Guide.


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