Donald Trump

Trump's Idea of 'Fake News' Is Much Broader Than His Awards Suggest

The president applies the term to any reporting that makes him look bad, regardless of whether it is accurate.

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White House

Last night the Republican National Committee announced Donald Trump's "Highly Anticipated 2017 Fake News Awards," most of which highlight bona fide errors of fact. In that respect, these examples are not representative of the way the president generally uses the phrase fake news, an epithet he applies to any reporting that makes him look bad, regardless of whether it is accurate.

Some of the mistakes highlighted by the RNC concerned trivial matters (Did Trump overfeed koi in Japan? Did the Polish first lady shake his hand?), while others were more consequential (Did Trump try to arrange contacts with Russian officials while he was running for president? Did the Trump administration suppress a climate report?). Three of the 11 selections involved tweets, one was an economic prediction in an opinion column, and almost all of the errors were promptly corrected. None was a deliberate hoax, the original meaning of "fake news."

Still, the list includes some egregious and embarrassing mistakes, two of which led to suspensions or resignations. It is plausible that the overwhelming hostility toward Trump at mainstream news outlets encourages mistakes that paint him in a negative light. If reporters were not primed to believe the worst about him, they probably would be more careful. In that regard, Trump has a legitimate beef. But verifiably false reporting is not the main thing he has in mind when he condemns "fake news."

This week, for instance, Trump complained that "the Fake News Mainstream Media never likes covering the great and record setting economic news, but rather talks about anything negative or that can be turned into the negative." In Trump's mind, accentuating the negative, even when it's true, is fake news.

So is coverage of allegations that Trump denies. In the same tweet, he declared that "the Russian Collusion Hoax is dead, except as it pertains to the Dems." The last item on the RNC's list of "fake news" items says "Russian collusion is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people," adding, "THERE IS NO COLLUSION!"

It is possible that neither Trump nor anyone in his campaign collaborated with Russian agents to undermine Hillary Clinton and boost his election prospects. But as long as a special prosecutor and congressional committees are investigating the issue, the press has no choice but to cover it, no matter how many times Trump cries hoax, even when he puts his objections in capital letters and adds an exclamation point.

As far as Trump is concerned, any mention of Michael Wolff's best-selling White House tell-all Fire and Fury ("a Fake Book by a mentally deranged author"), including articles that try to distinguish between the author's credible reporting and his more dubious claims, also qualifies as fake news. Likewise stories that quote unnamed sources, mentions of Trump's low approval ratings, articles that describe former FBI Director James Comey's report of a conversation with the president or a congresswoman's accurate account of a telephone call between Trump and a soldier's widow, and what Trump views as inadequate attention to the stock market, his "incredible year," or "how Big and how Strong our BASE is."

Trump's loose use of the "fake news" label may hearten his supporters and sow doubt about the credibility of his critics, but it also undermines his legitimate complaints about unbalanced and sometimes inaccurate reporting. This self-sabotage is part of a broader problem: Trump's blatant disregard for the truth has played no small role in building the expectations that shape coverage of him.

Here is a guy who spent years questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States, who invented millions of illegal ballots to explain his loss in the popular vote tally, and who habitually brags that everything he is associated with is the biggest and the best. When that guy suggests that bomb threats to Jewish institutions across the country, cited as evidence that his election had fostered a rise in anti-Semitism, might not be what they seem, why would anyone take him seriously? Yet last March the Israeli police announced that they had arrested the person they believed was behind the vast majority of those threats, and it turned out he was an Israeli Jew.

Trump has discredited himself to the point that his statements are automatically dismissed even when he happens to be right. That is a problem for him, but it is also a problem for us.

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    1. This is why I only read Life Magazine.

      1. You mean Boy’s Life Magazine?

        1. Nun’s Life?

          1. I know you guys won’t believe me, but I have never banged a nun, or roleplayed that scenario.

        2. He means the back of the Life cereal box

          1. Back Off The Life was my favorite cereal as a kid.

            1. Never mess with CMB. Obviously insane.

    2. not only could finasteride continue to cause “debilitating sexual dysfunction” even after users discontinued the drug, but that the condition was unaffected by subsequent medical interventions like Viagra

      “Sir, apparently you’re screwed … NOT!!”

  1. A few weeks ago Politico put out a well-researched a report on Obama shutting down a decade-long Hezbollah drug trafficking investigation just to appease Russia and Iran. His cronies around the internet and from his administration immediately denied everything and said it was fake news, and the story never really went any further.

    The main difference between Obama and Trump (other than Trump’s stupid lies about every trivial little thing) is that Obama had a media and press corps of whom 95% voted for him and refused to investigate his lies or ask questions and Trump has a media and press corps of whom 99% voted against him and will spend an hour hammering questions about his medical exam.

  2. even if an error is corrected the error is still out there for many to claim as truth, for fake news never dies on the internet. even this latest stuff about Trumps health a doctor has come out and claimed him healthy while the media denies the reports validity with people who are not doctors. the News is Fake and we have to shovel through all the shit to find where the truth lies.

  3. these examples are not representative of the way the president generally uses the phrase fake news

    , and are therefore themselves fake news.

    1. It’s fake news all the way down.

  4. 42 percent of Republicans think accurate stories that cast Republicans in a negative light are “always” fake news:

    AMERICAN VIEWS: TRUST, MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY

    1. Did you know that the Russians hacked our election?

      Whatever that means?

      1. Look it up if you care to know.

    2. Text is too small on a phone. What is the percentage of Democrat on Democrat fake news? What is the percentage of independent on independent fake news? Or does this report only measure Republican on Republican fake news?

      1. Knight Foundation? KKK/Democrat party(but I repeat myself) subsidiary?

        1. Wut?

      2. 15% and 26%

      3. It doesn’t say, but math says 16%. Interestingly, it appears the question was not about “stories that cast your team/it’s members in a negative light” but was a general question about negative stories about politicians/political groups. And apparently Republicans are much more likely to think negative stories about politicians/political groups are fake news in general, according to the wording of the linked paper.

        They don’t actually list the questions, or the demographics of the survey. It’s really hard to tell much from it, as is usually the case with these surveys.

        1. Also interestingly, Republicans tend to view mainstream news outlets and major networks as having an agenda of portraying Republicans in a negative light.

          Meanwhile, while Democrats do not have similar views about mainstream news outlets portraying Democrats in a negative light. They do, however, tend to view right-leaning news outlets like Fox News, Drudge, Limbaugh etc. as having an agenda of portraying Democrats in a negative light.

          With similar lines of evidence supporting these contentions, one wonders how anyone could hold such views. /sarc

        2. “And apparently Republicans are much more likely to think negative stories about politicians/political groups are fake news in general, according to the wording of the linked paper.”

          Now, why would they think that, just because 95% of the coverage of a Republican President is negative, and many of the stories have turned out to be false?

  5. Here is a guy who spent years questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States,

    and never received a definitive answer.

    *** ducks ***

    1. Boo! This ugly, bigoted libel again?

      Look, real Kenyan immigrants are resourceful, industrious, hard-working people. Only a land of lazy socialistic druggies could have produced a man who never held a real job or aspired to a day in his life.

    2. Give credit where credit was due. Obama rode that stupidity well and used it to make others look like assholes.

      1. Yup, Obama was willing to spend any amount of other people’s money to keep that question alive. I think because he knew that, as long as his foes were looking into that dead end, they were to preoccupied to put a similar effort into obtaining his college transcript, or whatever.

    3. Still waiting

  6. If I recall correctly, Reason did not have much love for the media during the “Aleppo” kerfuffle.

    1. What’s Aleppo?

      1. My cousin had a leppo once, but the doctor removed it.

        1. Were you the leppo ?

      2. A brand of dog food in the 70s?

      3. one of the lesser known Marx brothers?

    2. Incidentally, I have not actually watched the Kimmel Show YouTube interview clip asking about this incident. But it’s four minutes and twenty seconds long.

  7. OT: Newsweek is fucking delusional

    Hillary Clinton could still become president if Russia probe finds conspiracy evidence.

    Have the forgotten about the line of succession? (among other things…)

    1. She could win!

    2. Idiots in the comments:

      FrenchGirlNYC?

      @frenchgirlnyc
      5h5 hours ago
      More
      Because hacking an election was not known when constitution was written.

      173 replies 6 retweets 92 likes
      Reply 173 Retweet 6 Like 92

      Jake Lloyd

      1. You fucker. Get in the sweatbox with Gilmore.

      2. Are you idiots using the italics tag or the emphasis tag when you pull this shit?

        1. It’s the Twittermojis that get pasted in that break the shit all up.

      3. Yet more violations of the Font NAP by the hypocrites in the H&R commentariat.

        That’s it; I’m going to go smoke some crack with Jake Lloyd.

        1. It could be a pre-emptive internet-aggression against Michael Hihn, should he decided to stop by.

      4. R.I.P., Italics closing tag.

    3. Why do you hate women?

  8. None was a deliberate hoax

    That’s a fairly credulous claim.

    Trump has discredited himself to the point that his statements are automatically dismissed even when he happens to be right.

    So have the MSM and I’m not even talking about in regards to Trump. The climate hysteria, the endless harping on (and encouragement of!) racism, “income inquality” baloney, and on and on – the MSM is awash in this stuff and most of the reporting is riddled with deliberate lies in order to push a certain agenda.

    1. Trump has discredited himself to the point that his statements are automatically dismissed even when he happens to be right. That is a problem for him, but it is also a problem for us.

      I’m confused as to why this is a problem. Because we might be forced to judge people by their actions? Because politicians, or people in general, lie?

      I feel like Robby should chime in in agreement by saying that it’s definitely “not OK”.

  9. It’s not just Trump.

    Remember “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”? Complete media lie. Stoking people into a riot. How many people had their businesses destroyed? Doesn’t absolve the rioters of course, but the media had a perspective and reported complete lies to further their narrative.

    1. That cop was in or damn near in his vehicle when he unloaded his firearm into an unarmed teenager who was probably twenty yards away . That’s fucking bullshit and motherfuckers like you have used the “hands up lie” to obfuscate these facts which is pretty typical for scumbag right wingers. They pounce on one inaccuracy to discredit legitimate shit.

      1. Hasn’t it been pretty well accepted at this point that the violent thug in question A) robbed a store B) assaulted a cop C) started to flee the scene and finally D) turned to charge toward the cop he had just assaulted? As I recall, the evidence clearly corroborated that he was no longer fleeing.

        Take out cop, and insert “random dude”. Most rational people would say the thug getting shot down at that point got what was coming to (or at) him.

        1. Left out “reached inside the vehicle and attempted to grab the officer’s weapon, getting himself shot in the hand in the process.

          Also left out “Within a day there was video posted in the immediate aftermath of bystanders discussing what had happened. They mentioned the shooting victim charging the police officer. They did not mention his hands being up. “

      2. Fake, but accurate.

  10. Trump’s “Fake News” Awards are too accurate!

    They’re Fake Fake News!

  11. Rebel Scum broke the comments!

    1. Free italics for everyone!

      1. Feel my (unintentional) wrath?

  12. Give me a break, Jacob.

    Just listen to the questions asked to his physician yesterday.

    I don’t like his shtick much but the media have been acting like assholes.

    1. That physician’s over the top performance meant for Trump was hardly credible itself.

      1. Ah.

        So how many scoops of ice cream was a way to question this.

        And Gupta going on TV to say, from afar and without having done so personally as a physician, he has heart disease was keeping check on this over the top performance soon after the official doctor spoke.

        Gotcha.

        You’re gonna have to give more here.

  13. If my memory serves, it was Walter Cronkite who stated that journalism died in this country once it became “for profit”. I believe he was referring to broadcast news, but I believe it extends beyond that. We have essentially come full circle and are back to the days of Hearst, Pulitzer, et al, and “yellow journalism”. The majority of news outlets print what people WANT to hear, not what they NEED to hear. A perfect example, the whole LaVar Ball/ESPN/Stan Van Gundy and Rick Carlisle dust up. Nothing that comes out of LaVar Ball’s mouth is fit to print and is definitely not news. Yet ESPN, in searching for every last dime under the sofa cushion, runs with a story of Ball bad-mouthing Luke Walton (LA Lakers coach) because that is what “people WANT to hear”. LaVar Ball has no knowledge about the Lakers, is not part of the NBA, nor has any interest other than one of his sons plays in the NBA. Why is what he has to say “news”? Would ESPN have ran the story if Ball said Walton was greatest coach he had ever met, would ESPN have ran with it? Hell no. Where I am going with this particular rant, I have no idea. Guess I’m just tired of all the opinion pieces that pose as news.

    1. There’s no way it could not be for profit. Even if they aren’t literally being paid, there are special interests behind every political push.

  14. In Trump’s mind, accentuating the negative, even when it’s true, is fake news.

    Or just dumb and irrelevant. Am I supposed to care that he has 2 scoops of ice cream?

    Trump’s loose use of the “fake news” label may hearten his supporters and sow doubt about the credibility of his critics, but it also undermines his legitimate complaints about unbalanced and sometimes inaccurate reporting.

    95% negative reporting on often mundane or irrelevant things in order to get people to think DT is some special evil worse than Hitler is “unbalanced”. I think I saw a chart recently that showed only FNC being even remotely close to balanced.

    Michael Wolff’s best-selling White House tell-all Fire and Fury

    The author, himself, said it was bs. It’s like Howard Zinn stating that trying to be objective is undesireable. It means his work is total bs.

    Here is a guy who spent years questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States

    I think the question was why he used immigrant status to get into school or something.

    who invented millions of illegal ballots to explain his loss in the popular vote tally

    How many recounts/investigations were stopped when, lets say, “inconsistencies” became apparent?

    1. I guess we’re italicized again…

      1. You did it! You and your posting Twitter junk!

  15. “Trump Says Some Stupid Shit” is fake news in the same way “Dog Bites Man” is fake news. If it ain’t newsworthy but you’re running it anyway, it’s just clickbait.

  16. All I know is that the president of the united states dissing Dave Wiegel on twitter was the greatest moment of 2018

    *footnote: WHO HAS STOLEN MY POWER TO ITALICIZE?!? (looks)

    Ah, “Rebel Scum”. You have learned the secret: copy-paste tweets, while including obscure emojis in the name-line. My padawan, you must only use this power for good, and for lulz.

  17. From the WaPo piece:

    “Do tweets really count as “news”? ”

    Given the amount of time WaPo spends obsessing over Tweets, this is a bizarre question.

    1. Note to all WaPo reporters: Write whatever the fuck you want on Twitter. You are not bound to any journalistic standards on there even if you’re reporting news. Go wild!

    2. Note to all WaPo reporters: Write whatever the fuck you want on Twitter. You are not bound to any journalistic standards on there even if you’re reporting news. Go wild!

  18. Way to prove Trump’s assertion with some “fake news analysis”, Jake.

  19. “None was a deliberate hoax, the original meaning of ‘fake news.'”

    Actually, as the opening paragraphs of the article you link to suggest, “fake news” was a term created as part of a media narrative to explain that Queen Hillary’s defeat was supposedly the result of gullible voters being duped into believing demonstrably untrue assertions about her, and not because of her inherent awfulness, thus leading to the dubious conclusion that the election results were invalid and that a “do over,” if not her automatic installation into the presidency, was warranted. It also led to “respectable” authorities calling for regulation of news media and the internet to prevent such “fake news” from “misleading” gullible voters into not voting Democrat ever again.

    I, for one, am quite pleased that Trump’s hyjacking and debasement of the term, “fake news,” has effectively put the kibosh on that particular media narrative.

  20. Too late folks- old news. Trump has now moved on to the “King of the Fake News Awards”. I guess that would be him.

  21. Jeez, the Reason coverage of the Fake News Awards is fake news. Sad!

  22. ” It is plausible that the overwhelming hostility toward Trump at mainstream news outlets encourages mistakes that paint him in a negative light.”

    Look, it’s quite clear that some of these were not “mistakes”, but deliberate lies, because they required editing out context which demonstrated that the reports’ version of events was false. Like the Japanese Prime Minister dumping his own box of fish food just before Trump. Whoever put together the original of that report pretty much had to know it was false.

  23. Here is a guy who spent years questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the United States,

    While you might find it stupid, it’s not ‘fake news’.

    who invented millions of illegal ballots to explain his loss in the popular vote tally,

    2 million votes–the amount Trump lost by, is less than three quarters of one percent of the population. Less than A percent. Could it be possible? Yeah, actually, it could–and given that the Democrats do everything in their power to keep vote fraud from being investigated at all AND given that, in the rare instances when it starts to be investigated Democratic vote fraud is invariably uncovered–yeah, it could happen.

    con’t

    1. and who habitually brags that everything he is associated with is the biggest and the best.

      He’s the leader of the free world–that’s not ‘bragging’. Everything he’s associated with IS the biggest and the best.

      When that guy suggests that bomb threats to Jewish institutions across the country, cited as evidence that his election had fostered a rise in anti-Semitism, might not be what they seem, why would anyone take him seriously? Yet last March the Israeli police announced that they had arrested the person they believed was behind the vast majority of those threats, and it turned out he was an Israeli Jew.

      A leftist Israeli Jew.

      How stupid is a media that report, as if true, that the man with a Jewish daughter and Jewish grandchildren is an anti-Semite? How stupid are the people that believe it?

      Stupid enough to believe that Hillary had a chance.

      Stupid enough to think that their ‘fakenews’ slur wouldn’t blow up in their faces.

  24. Nov 14, 2016. The birth of the “Fake News List”, authored by Melissa Zimdars, an assistant professor of communication and media at Merrimack College. One week after the election. It was an interesting day.

  25. I love it the way Reason is more top down statist than the democrats on many or most issues. Freedom is great, except where it’s not.

  26. A highly opinionated attempt at discrediting the president, but lacking in accuracy.

  27. These days the media presents a lot of opinion as if it were fact. To me, that is fake news.

  28. “Trump’s loose use of the “fake news” label may hearten his supporters and sow doubt about the credibility of his critics, but it also undermines his legitimate complaints about unbalanced and sometimes inaccurate reporting.”

    Misses the point completely. Trump is not trying to make complaints about unbalanced and inaccurate reporting, he’s trying to damage the media’s reputation as a source of fact (to the extent that that reputation still exists.) He’s effectively running for office against the media. If the media were say Hillary, then from time to time one of its attacks on him might actually be true. So what ? When you’re running a campaign and the opposing candidate makes a truthful hit on you, you don’t nod and say “Yup, Ya got me there.” You trash your opponent and try to get people to see her as a liar.

    The article is based on OldThink in which the media is a valuable source of fact that occasionally slips up and engages in unbalanced and inaccurate reporting. That’s not Trump’s view. Trump’s view is that the media is his political opponent and it needs trashing at every possible opportunity. When the trashing is objectively justifiable and eminently deserved, so much the better.

    His objective is to make the median voter attach no more truth value to a Washington Post report than you do to a Trump tweet.

    1. “Trump’s view is that the media is his political opponent…”

      We have extensive evidence that the media view themselves that way, too.

  29. The bottom line is that we never saw the same kind of “slip ups” when the news had 0blama as the subject.
    If there was false reporting about their messiah, it was in putting him in a better light than was the truth.

    1. That, I think, is a key point here. “Mistakes” are random, sometimes they go one way, sometimes the other.

      When all the “mistakes” go the same way, what you’re looking at is bias, not errors.

  30. ” these examples are not representative of the way the president generally uses the phrase fake news,”

    So, what you’re saying is, a guy known for his ridiculous hyperbole, uses the phrase “fake news” in a hyperbolic fashion? And this surprises you?

  31. Yup, the media is complete and utter bullshit nowadays. Just read through any article from 95% of major papers, magazines, etc and you will see literally dozens of little jabs, lies, distortions, etc all slanted against conservative or libertarian positions.

    In other words, THE ENTIRE MEDIA IS A LIE. When an entire organization consistently distorts every fact, figure, or argument it can to push an agenda it is nothing more than a propaganda outfit. Goebbels and Hitler would be very impressed with how the MSM has convinced so many people that they are being honest and objective… In Nazi Germany everybody knew the media was slanted, but here they’re really won big because most people don’t even know they’re being lied to day in and day out every day of their lives.

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