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Free Minds & Free Markets

It's Not a Lie If the President Believes It

Journalists covering Trump undermine their credibility by ignoring the distinction between dishonesty and delusion.

Douliery Olivier/ABACA/NewscomDouliery Olivier/ABACA/NewscomDonald Trump views the mainstream press with contempt, and the mainstream press returns the favor. Or is it the other way around?

Just as the president has trouble distinguishing between negative press coverage and "fake news," the journalists who cover him tend to treat every inaccurate, unfounded, or even debatable statement he makes as a lie. That mistake, to which I myself am sometimes prone, clouds the judgment and damages the credibility of reporters and commentators who aspire to skepticism but too often settle for reflexive disbelief.

New York Times columnist David Leonhardt recently catalogued "nearly every outright lie [Trump] has told publicly since taking the oath of office." There are a lot of verifiably false assertions on Leonhardt's list, but it's an exaggeration to say every one of them is an "outright lie," which implies that Trump knew the statement was wrong when he made it and said it with the intent of misleading people.

Take Trump's preposterous puffery about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. "It looked like a million, million and a half people," he said the next day in a speech at CIA headquarters.

Four days later, Trump was still marveling at the size of the crowd. "The audience was the biggest ever," he told ABC News anchor David Muir on January 25, standing in front of a photo on the wall in the White House. "This crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes."

Maybe Trump was trying to trick people into ignoring plain photographic evidence that his inaugural audience paled beside Barack Obama's in 2009. But it seems much more likely that he was offering an emotionally tinged, self-flattering impression of his experience as he took the oath of office.

Similarly, Trump's fanciful claims about the size of his Electoral College victory and the millions of phantom fraudulent voters who cost him the popular vote probably are best understood not as lies but as ego-stroking delusions. The ease of disproving such contentions hardly seems consistent with a calculated plan to deceive.

Yet here is the headline that the Times used for its January 23 story about Trump's obsession with voter fraud: "Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers." It's not a lie if the president believes it.

Leonhardt likewise deems it an "outright lie" when Trump makes an ill-informed statement on subjects such as the murder rate, the number of people affected by his travel ban, or the adequacy of refugee screening procedures. Sheer sloppiness, combined with a tendency to accept misinformation that serves one's agenda, is a more plausible explanation for such lapses.

Leonhardt's list is also marred by the inclusion of arguable claims that hinge on interpretation. On at least five occasions, for instance, Trump has described a post-election statement by Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Executive Editor Dean Baquet as an apology to the paper's readers.

Leonhardt counts all five, insisting that the Times "never apologized," which is technically true. But Sulzberger and Baquet did suggest that "Donald Trump's sheer unconventionality [led] us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters," which certainly sounds like an admission of error.

In that same statement, Sulzberger and Baquet promised to "report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you"; to "hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly"; and "to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team."

These are noble aspirations. The Times clearly falls short of them when it reports as fact something that is fundamentally unverifiable: the president's state of mind when he says things that are inconsistent with reality. Pointing out the inconsistency is fair and necessary in reporting the news; reaching a conclusion about the president's motive is neither.

© Copyright 2017 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

Photo Credit: Douliery Olivier/ABACA/Newscom

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  • Tony Cr||

    "...are best understood not as lies but as ego-stroking delusions."

    I think I would rather have a leader who lies and knows it than one who suffers from any kind of delusions. We have experience with the liars, but not so much with those who are delusional. It seems to me that that trait can lead to some very dangerous places.

  • Quixote||

    Saying that an assertion is not a "lie" if the speaker believes it, is like saying an impersonation of a well-connected academic is "parody" just because its author claims it's intended as "mockery." See the documentation of America's leading criminal "satire" case at:

    https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    If someone makes a claim that is supported by the current information they have, but is later determined to be incorrect, did they lie?

  • SezWhom||

    All of politics is delusion. Without an unfounded belief in "I am right and should be in charge. And, they are wrong, and need to be deposed," there could be no political parties as we now know them.

    Funny thing is, Trump understands this better than almost anyone else in DC. And certainly more than most journalists. He plays their game better than they do.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "The Times clearly falls short of them when it reports as fact something that is fundamentally unverifiable: the president's state of mind when he says things that are inconsistent with reality."

    Well, this is clearly a case of the media following Government Almighty's lead. Government Almighty can read our minds (or pretend to), when they pass legislation, and judges, lawyers, and juries are making decisions based on whether or not our religious beliefs are or were "sincerely held". If Government Almighty can our minds, why not the media?

  • Gene Poole||

    The legislature, judges, lawyers, etc. can't read our minds and don't try to. The only mind they read is the mind of the money that they're totally subservient to.

    Not to be confused with Almighty Government, or just plain Government. Government is you and me. Government is what's done by the collectivity for the collectivity. Government in itself is not an evil. Get over that shit.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Government that has humility (knows its proper place) is not evil. Government that even PRETENDS to be able to read our minds... As is reflected in even using phrases like "sincerely held" religious beliefs... Is getting more and more evil, as it arrogates to itself, more and more power.

  • SezWhom||

    "...collectivity for the collectivity." Any such government that does not have an opt-out clause is inherently evil. And, of course, no government has an opt out clause.

  • Stoned Roger||

    So Trump's a mental patient.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Well, at least, he should be. The worst of the mentally ill are the ones who will never-ever, EVER admit that they aren't perfect! If you drag them kicking and screaming to the shrink, they will work over-time to deceive the shrink, and hide or justify their warpedness!!!

  • Stoned Roger||

    It's interesting to consider this Nietsche quote in this age of Trump:

    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

    If in the normal course of human existence tribal groups tend to act insanely when led by nominally sane leaders what happens when the leader of the tribe is a lunatic?

  • Number 7||

    this coming from this guy.

  • Stoned Roger||

    The presumption that Trump is sane and is thus lying when he repeats the debunked statements is a fair presumption but maybe Trump is insane and lacks the capacity to find objective truth. I'm not sure the story here is the credibility of journalists when the defense is that President is delusional. Wouldn't that be the larger issue here that our President is a lunatic?

  • Spinach Chin||

    The only real difference between Trump and previous presidents when it comes to evaluating the truthfulness of their public statements is the obnoxious bravado that Trump uses, and the willingness of the press to devote ages and ages of air time and ink at pointing it out.

    Let's face it - the list of lies, misstatements, and half-truths by Obama is long and varied. But since the media like him, there was no critical coverage of them.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    You're full of shit.

    Trump repeats proven lies over and over again.

    Even George W Bush would stop lying about something when it became obvious he was wrong. Not Trump.

  • Spinach Chin||

    Nobody ever asked Obama to back up his lies.

    That's the difference. He had willing dickheads in the media ready and willing to defend him at all costs.

    Apple's and oranges, kid.

  • Curt||

    Well... yes and no. He was called out numerous times (from the less friendly media) about his myriad un-truths related to Obamacare. Even after it was clearly proven that his words weren't true, he continued with them.

    No one suggested he was delusional or insane. His opponents said he was a liar. His supporters said he was just misunderstood. Everyone else agreed that he was a politician and saying shit that isn't true is what they do. Applying labels like liar or delusional don't really tell us anything about the object of criticism... just about the speaker.

  • Taito7||

    Obama misspoke or lied about some of the programs and details of Obamacare, but overall, it did what he said it would do. I don't think he foresaw the insurance companies canceling policies instead of just amending them to comply with the law. Obama also had the power to admit when he was wrong and change his opinion if the details around that changed. Trump is incapable of admitting he has ever been wrong. There is no way Obama would still be saying that 3 million people voted illegally to swing the popular vote because some guy in Texas posted something on his facebook page. There is no way Obama would still be clinging to thousands of Muslims were celebrating 9-11 in NJ, or unemployment is really closer to 40%. Trump lies sometimes and it doesn't even take him anywhere, it has no purpose. He could be delusional, but I don't know if there is anyone in the WH that can say the Emperor has no clothes with out getting fired.

  • geo||

    Then how do you explain Obama still making statements, even after out of office, about how successful Obamacare is?

    Recent quote from Obama: "Reality continues to discredit the false claim that this law is in a 'death spiral,' "

    Does anyone believe that is not an outright lie?

  • tongueInOurShoes||

    Huh? If Obamacare hasn't been successful, why is it such a political landmine for the Republicans to outright appeal it? Millions of people now covered. People not getting dropped or now being able to afford healthcare that have pre-existing conditions. It's not perfect but it's certainly taking us in the right direction.

    If Obamacare was in such a death spiral, its repeal would be a no-brainer and an obvious political win for its opponents.

  • Azathoth!!||

    There is no way Obama would still be saying that 3 million people voted illegally to swing the popular vote because some guy in Texas posted something on his facebook page. There is no way Obama would still be clinging to thousands of Muslims were celebrating 9-11 in NJ, or unemployment is really closer to 40%.

    He wouldn't have to 'still' be saying any of this--he'd say it once and the media would treat it as holy writ.

    People like you would be drooling over it's greatness.

  • Craig J Bolton||

    No one? Well, I guess that means that you weren't around at that time ?

  • Gene Poole||

    Either the plural is marked by an apostrophe, or it isn't. Which is it? OH! I see! You mean Apple the computer conglomerate.

  • SezWhom||

    That obnoxious bravado got him elected. So, who's the delusional one?

    And Trump is the first major elected official to do an easy end run around the media, and get away with it. He continues to do what works, and you call him crazy?

  • Mark22||

    Trump derangement syndrome in full swing again? Take an SSRI!

    Oh, as for Trump's lies, I'm kind of happy that they are so transparent and irrelevant: it's a refreshing change.

  • Bruce D||

    ^this^

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    I'm certainly not a Trump fan, but... at least his lies are generally benign. Who cares about the size of his inauguration or if he's delusional about election results?

    When all is said and done, I believe that he's making a genuine effort to meet every one of his campaign promises, good or bad. I can't think of a single President in my lifetime who has kept his campaign policy promises. If Trump can somehow break the mold of campaigning to get elected and then governing differently, then I think he will have a somewhat successful presidency.

  • Eric||

    Your viewing this from the perspective of a partisan Republican. So of course you are excited about his campaign promises. However, you call his delusions "benign", but the Voter Fraud Commission shows that he's perfectly capable of allowing his delusions to manifest into something worse. And do you really think that if they find no evidence of corruption he'll accept the evidence as truth?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    There is voter fraud.

    Does it need a commission to solve the problem? probably not.

    My question is why are lefties, who love big government, scared of using government to root out voter fraud?

  • Eric||

    My question is why are lefties, who love big government, scared of using government to root out voter fraud?

    Good question. It's because lefties (just like conservatives) largely have no principles other than "when our guy does it, it's OK".

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I have yet to hear of any accusation of conservative voter fraud by the left, including the media.

    In fact, there have been people who supposedly voted for conservatives that were involved in voter fraud.

  • Gene Poole||

    "Lefties"? And which hand do you use when you can get it up?

  • tongueInOurShoes||

    Yes, there is voter fraud. No, it is not a problem. I challenge anyone on this thread to show me ONE election where voter fraud has had an impact. The studies that have been done have shown voter fraud to have .0001% impact at worst. And I'm estimating the number of zeros but it's at least that many.

    The scare we "lefties" have is that the government will use the non-issue of voter fraud to impose more restrictive voter laws that disenfranchise voters. Until someone can prove to me that voter fraud is a real problem, I have to assume the big push to solve the big voter fraud problem must have ulterior motives. And the courts have already called them on it in a number of cases.

  • Spinach Chin||

    Proof that there is no voter fraud, please.

  • tongueInOurShoes||

    There is voter fraud. Absolutely. It's a very big system and fraud is inevitable. What I want you to prove to me is where it's a problem. Show me an instance where voter fraud has EVER affected the outcome of an election.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    You can't prove a negative.

  • Mark22||

    but the Voter Fraud Commission shows that he's perfectly capable of allowing his delusions to manifest into something worse

    And a commission to look into the possibility of voter fraud is bad... why? Either it finds evidence and presents it or it doesn't. Seems to me, either way we win.

  • Libertarian Heretic||

    So imagine we set up a commission to look into churches misappropriating charitable funds or entangling themselves in political advocacy? How about a commission to look into structural racism at public schools? How about a commission to look into intimidation, property damage and assault by volunteer border militias?
    We would find something in each. What is there to hide?

  • Bruce D||

    Churches and militias aren't government; voting is. Given government power is always the greater threat, it's more important that things more directly related to government be investigated.

  • Libertarian Heretic||

    Your exaggerating the difference. The accusation is not that an act of state has changed the vote count but that criminal activity on the part of individuals has changed it. They voted 'illegally' after all, its not that the County Clerks changed the tally. Well, maybe one day the line will be that the deep state in league with the fake news media had it changed. Can't rule out anything these days.
    Anyway, a church using its tax exempt status to run, what are for all purposes, businesses is stealing from the Treasury. A church violating the principle of separation of church and state to promote political candidates, promulgate policy or lobby is an act directly effecting state action. Private militias usurp the state's monopoly on the use of force.
    This is not to say I support any such measure. Its just that since you advocate state action that so cavilierly ignores the concerns many sensitive to the dark history of voter suppression in this country have, I thought it necessary to go after a few sacred cows of the right. With that said if I am conservative in any sense it is in regard to my theology as a Christian.

  • Libertarian Heretic||

    What purpose does such a commission serve but to soothe the wounded and oversized ego of #45? And what evidence besides an Alex Jones report and a tweet from a busybody militia type do we have that raises suspicion. It's merely a bunch of confirmation bias for a needy baby who can't lose graciously.
    Let's both act like we know we're adults here. In the Trump era it is a tall order I know. Those sympathetic to the GOP have embraced the mentality of a high school sophist - using double entendre, innuendo and dog whistle to titilate bestial passions- all the while shrugging the shoulders and protesting they really meant what they literally said. Those 'illegal' votes like much of the rhetoric coming from our toupeed and orange spray tan clad President is a sop to white nationalism. I know, I know, playing the racist shows how above the fray you really are when it comes to racial issues. Just like the guy who beats his wife only does it because he loves her.
    Of all the pressing social injustices in our society you take up an issue an insecure silver spoon race-baiting morally degenerate plutocrat adovactes because he cant stand the fact he lost the popular vote as the one needing state action.

  • Libertarian Heretic||

    You live in a country where all minorities bar Asians make less money, attain lower levels of education, are more likely to be arrested for the same crime as whites and when tried receive a more severe sentence, receive 90 cents on the dollar for the same job and have lower life expectancies. And after the Voting Rights Act is gutted and states begin passing 'surgical' (as one judge put it), voter suppression laws you want a commission.
    When they find an issue no matter how small it will be grist for the mill on FOX News and Breitbart.
    Don't be surprised that your often found part of the racial problem rather than warmly accepted as an incisive truth teller.

  • SezWhom||

    Yes,there is voter fraud. How much? The only way to know is to thoroughly investigate. There is no reason NOT to investigate, unless you have something to hide.....

    Don't you ever wonder why there are people working so hard to stop any investigation? If there's nothing to be found, wouldn't it make sense for them to support an investigation and thus prove Trump a fool?

  • commentguy||

    1 - facts proving Trump wrong seem not to embarrass him or his supporters (see: size of crowd at his inauguration, weather at his inauguration, size of his Electoral College majority in comparison to previous presidents, etc.)
    2 - the investigation into voter fraud draws attention and funds away from the equally important and valid investigations into the existence of unicorns, emails from Hillary to Ambassador Stevens saying "no more security for you, buddy", and whether harsh anti-drug laws are an effective deterrent.

  • Craig J Bolton||

    I believe that Hitler kept most of his promises. But somehow that wasn't a positive thing. Could you explain the difference with Trump ?

  • hello.||

    There is very obviously no difference between Trump and Hitler. In fact, anyone who keeps their promises is literally just like Hitler because Hitler kept his promises.

    QED

  • SezWhom||

    That is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. It says more about you than it does Trump.
    Are you saying that Obama is better than Hitler and Trump by virtue of having kept fewer promises?

  • Bruce D||

    I think "hello." was being sarcastic.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    So, I checked on this lie that Trump was for the Iraq War before he was against it.

    In the Howard Stern call in, Howard asks Trump if he was for the invading Iraq and Trump says "Yeah, I guess.... so" and "I wish the first time it was done differently". He clearly sounds unsure on his position and that Bush senior should have dealt with Iraq differently. (3:45)

    Then in a Cavuto interview, Trump says "Well, he has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps, because perhaps shouldn't be doing it yet and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations, you know."..." I think the Iraqi situation is a problem...."

    The media has lost all credibility because politicians lie all the time and they do not call lefty politicians liars. When it comes to Trump, its lies lies lies.

    And the real problem is that phrasing "invading Iraq" and "war in Iraq" are too different things. Some people associate the two as the same thing but maybe Trump did not. Nobody really nailed Trump down to what he specifically meant.

  • Eric||

    Your moniker: "loveconstitution1789"...I think you should choose something more appropriate for your political views. Perhaps "lovepatriotact2001", or "teamredrules"???

  • loveconstitution1789||

    And your moniker should be lovethelefties

    I was pointing out how the media lies. In this case its about Trump but the media lies about many things.

    Pointing out the media lies does not a Republican make.

  • Eric||

    "Pointing out the media lies does not a Republican make."

    No it doesn't. But constantly advocating for positive rights from a conservative or right-wing standpoint does.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Not all conservatives or right-wingers are Republicans.

    Libertarians are conservative but certainly not right-wingers.

    See, that's another flaw with the TDS. Not everyone countering media and lefty bias are Trump supporters and/or Republicans and/or fascist Nazis. They might just be countering the lefties TDS.

  • Eric||

    "Libertarians are conservative"

    Bullshit. You repubs that post here constantly try to move the goal-posts by redefining conservative and libertarian so that they somehow overlap more than they do.

    Libertarians are liberals in the classical sense. You could say that they intersect with the beliefs of modern conservatives in that conservatives largely advocate for smaller government than liberals do...so there is a natural alliance there.

    However, the biggest difference between conservatives and libertarians is in their beliefs on the nature of rights. Libertarians hold strong principles with regard to their aversion to positive rights. Conservatives (like progressives) don't even understand the difference. Additionally, conservatives bow to authority and seek protection from the government to a degree that disgusts libertarians.

  • Libertarian Heretic||

    Thank you. That was cathartic. The soft line alot of Libertarians are taking with Trump and his enablers these days makes me sick. In the age of Trump I have basically become a never GOPer. While I usually vote Democrat when there are no Libertarians for the office I do have some appreciation for conservative thought. In fact, at the height of the stimulus and Obamacare debates I started getting a little nostalgic for Republicans.
    But they have gone off the rails. The nasty, racist, pathologically delusional, reactionary, atavistic mindset that comes standard on the red team these days is something I dont want the Libertarian Party or movement to be brushed with even by proxy.
    I am not a conservative. If anything I'm more of a free market progressive.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Libertarians are certainly NOT conservative.

    Hayek went out of his way - even penning an essay 'Why I Am Not A Conservative' where he maintains conservatives are just as delusional as socialists.

    You are a good example.

  • Zeb||

    Libertarians can be conservative, but are in no way essentially so. "Conservative" really only means something in context. Conservatism isn't really an ideology at all, but an orientation to tradition and to the past. US conservatives are often somewhat libertarian because the US has a tradition of strong economic freedom and pretty good personal freedom. But that's really only a part of conservatism and only because the US is traditionally sort of libertarian-ish.

    Real, strong libertarianism is not conservative at all, but pretty radical (I'd say "progressive", but that word is taken).

  • mtrueman||

    "Conservatism isn't really an ideology at all, but an orientation to tradition and to the past. US conservatives are often somewhat libertarian because the US has a tradition of strong economic freedom and pretty good personal freedom. "

    The US has an appalling record when it comes to economic freedom. Slavery, ethnic cleansing and forced population transfers are all there. Hardly something a Libertarian finds much to celebrate. It's the conservatives who venerate this past, with their handwringing over the fate of the statues of their traitorous heroes and so on.

  • Zeb||

    There are some terrible exceptions to the US tradition of individual liberty. The ones you list are particularly horrible, but are long past. Nevertheless, the tradition is there and is why conservatives at least pay lip service to the idea of economic liberty.

    I do agree that libertarians shouldn't look to the past for the way forward. But in certain narrow areas, a return to policies (or more often lack of policy) of the past would be a very good thing.

  • mtrueman||

    "There are some terrible exceptions to the US tradition of individual liberty."

    These are hardly exceptions. Tobacco, cotton and cane were the biggest industries in the country for centuries, certainly the biggest exports, and they were entirely reliant on slave labour.

    Anyhow, I think the link between American conservatives and Libertarians is their sharing of Puritan - Calvinist - roots and world view. I know that Libertarians follow these Austrian economists who were undoubtedly Catholics, Jews and atheists for the most part, but I still see the Calvinism beneath the veneer. It shines through in the comments every day.

  • hello.||

    You find Calvinism hiding in your closet, because you're an obsessed moron with an agenda.

  • mtrueman||

    "You find Calvinism hiding in your closet, because you're an obsessed moron with an agenda."

    You may know it as 'the protestant work ethic.'

  • Longtobefree||

    "These are hardly exceptions. Tobacco, cotton and cane were the biggest industries in the country for centuries, certainly the biggest exports, and they were entirely reliant on slave labour."

    Yet, somehow, they persist without slavery. Amazing, isn't it?

    Could it be that slavery was an economic institution, practiced throughout the world for millennia, rather than a purely racist institution unique to the United States south for a few hundred years?

  • mtrueman||

    "Could it be that slavery was an economic institution"

    Whatever gets you through the night.

  • Bruce D||

    Actually, it was the corporate Republicans who prosecuted the Civil War and ultimately freed the slaves, not the populist Democrats.

  • Mark22||

    Libertarians are conservative but certainly not right-wingers.

    I don't even know what that is supposed to mean. Do you touch yourself when writing stuff like that?

  • Gene Poole||

    So wait. Not all conservatives or right-wingers are Republicans or Fascist Nazis, but there are only two sides and everybody who's on the other side is a "lefty?"

  • ||

    If the media lies, and gets caught, they retract their story (e.g., CNN recently). Trump, on the other hand, doubles down on his lies.

  • Bruce D||

    No Eric, loveconstitution1789 is right. The media and Snopes are very misleading about Trump and the Iraq War. They would have one believe that Trump as a committed supporter of the war, when in fact, after reading Trump's actual statements, he was actually quite squishy with no real opinion formed.

  • mtrueman||

    "The media has lost all credibility because politicians lie all the time..."

    What? Politicians lie all the time but it's the media that have lost their credibility. You are just the kind of stooge that Trump relies on for support. Admit it, you want to believe Trump and will go to absurd lengths, here attributing ridiculous interpretations of everyday words to justify Trump's lies.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Lying is wrong. Does that need to be clarified?

    The point is that Trump is not always lying even though the media is trying to make that label stick to him. Most politicians lie to be deceptive, Trump fits truth into his babbling.

    As I pointed out, the media lied about what Trump said regarding Iraq. The media is the worst because they act like they are unbiased and don't lie. They clearly do.

  • mtrueman||

    "The media is the worst.."

    You are free to ignore any media you don't approve of. They have no power to tax you or make war on others. I imagine you like Trump because of his pose as a culture warrior, and whether or not he lies is irrelevant.

  • Bra Ket||

    Are you doing some kind of clever media satire thing by taking fractions of his sentences out of context to attack them?

    Everyone knows politicians are biased. They are literally the definition of partisan. But the news is called "the news" not the "biased opinions". They have more credibility to lose. And they have indeed lost it.

    I was just thinking recently that in times like this where everyone has taken a side and has an agenda or outcome they want, they only time you can trust someone is when they turn against their own side. But not when they abandon it and switch sides, because that proves they actually harbor the other bias.

  • mtrueman||

    "Are you doing some kind of clever media satire thing by taking fractions of his sentences out of context to attack them?"

    No, my fractions are meant to illustrate my point.

    Everyone knows the media is biased and always has been. It is run and owned by people who have more on their minds than making money and out-performing their competitors - like everyone they have other concerns and these are naturally reflected in their work. There's nothing immoral or shameful about it.

    The issue is Trump's lies. That media lies and bias somehow mitigates Presidential lies is just whitehouse spin. Don't let them sucker you so easily.

  • Bra Ket||

    "No, my fractions are meant to illustrate my point."

    If an out of context quote is needed to illustrate your point, then your point is not worth making. Unless it's about people who lie about others with out of context quotes.

    As for the media, there's probably a generational thing going on. Not so long ago, the media wasn't nearly as out and proud about their biases. Not everyone has time to follow all the day-to-day details and evaluate the primary sources themselves.

  • mtrueman||

    "As for the media, "

    It's not important. You don't have to buy a newspaper or a TV. The media hasn't the power to tax you or make war. That's the job of the president. Who fucking cares if the media is proud of their biases? It's not illegal and it doesn't hurt you. Grow up and don't be such a sucker for whitehouse spin.

  • Bruce D||

    The media has the power to influence (but not compel) the people to enact and enforce wrongful laws by shaping information and public debate. It is right we use our freedom of speech to criticize the media for it.

  • ||

    There is a huge difference between a biased politician and a pathological liar.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Another reason the media has no credibility:
    Jan. 21 "A reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine." (Trump was on the cover 11 times and Nixon appeared 55 times.)
    He was wrong by 3 covers? In other words, he has been on the cover so many more times than most Americans that his misstated 14 or 15 to the actual 11 times.

    That is a lie?

    See, I call lying intentional attempts to deceive based on statements. For example, Hillary Clinton said "Classified material has a header which says 'top secret, secret, confidential.' Nothing, and I will repeat this, and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice, none of the emails sent or received by me had such a header."

    This is a lie that (1) classified material does not need to be marked to be classified and (2) emails sent and received were classified in violation of federal law.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Donald Trump views the mainstream press with contempt,

    As he should.

    At their best, when they're being 'supportive', they view him as 'delusional'.

    Did millions of illegals vote to give Hillary the popular vote? Who knows? We have no actual concrete way of knowing if that happened or not--because Democrats want it that way--and Trump's attempts to actually find out are met with derision and obstruction.

    Were his observations about crowd size fanciful?

    As he guided Muir through the West Wing, Trump paused at a photo on the wall, taken from behind him as he delivered his inaugural address: "Here's a picture of the event. Here's a picture of the crowd. Now, the audience was the biggest ever, but this crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes. This crowd was massive."

    I'd like to see that picture. Because, given all the very open lying done by the media with the sole intent of discrediting Trump. I'm starting to wonder when the famous overhead shots were actually taken.....could Obama's have been taken just as things were starting and Trump's a little after they were over? Because I can see the media doing something like that given their subsequent behavior.

    con't

  • Azathoth!!||

    Do you get that, Jacob?

    Right after the inauguration, I accepted that Trump's boasts about attendance were just that--boasts. I accepted that the pictures were accurate--but now, thanks to the innumerable lies and outright smears the media has been caught in--yourself included, I begin to wonder.

    Because you do treat opinion as fact, you do declare the 'wrong' emotional reactions to be lies, you support various methods of the obfuscation of the facts--and all of it with the seeming intent of discrediting ideological foes.

    Tell me, is it a lie when you're lying to yourself and you know it?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump is constantly blabbing on Twitter about this and that and I ignore about 90% of what he says.

    To be fair, Trump is really hated by the media because he gets his policy news out unfiltered by the media because Trump uses Twitter. Trump has also been correct about things that the media says are crazy lies trump is making.

    Obama's administration spying at Trump tower was correct.

  • Zeb||

    Even if the photos are not representative of the full crowd size, I would think that someone more sympathetic to Trump would have produced a better one by now and demonstrated that his boasts about the crowd size were true if they were.

    Not that it really matters at all to anything.

  • mtrueman||

    If Trump continues to insist on his version of the story, it does matter. It's pathological. Captain Queeg once sailed these waters.

  • antiestablismentarianism||

    I'm just going to leave this right here...

    http://wtop.com/inauguration/2.....s/slide/4/

    If you look at the pictures throughout this article, it's obvious that the aerial shots and the podium shots have vastly different amounts of people. During the time this was all over the news, I found a report claiming that the photo showing fewer people was taken around 8 or 9am. The next day, the article had mysteriously disappeared.

    I wouldn't say I'm sympathetic to Trump per se, but rather someone who understands that to be an informed citizen, I have to review all sources. I can see how he would have a hard time believing the aerial photo when you can see what he saw on the podium photo. I also watched it LIVE which made me question the aerial photos because they panned the crowd from different angles and the aerial photos were obviously taken at a different time.

  • Rhywun||

    We have no actual concrete way of knowing if that happened or not--because Democrats want it that way--and Trump's attempts to actually find out are met with derision and obstruction.

    This. I can dismiss most of the other stuff as self-promotional puffery but when it comes to counting votes and the Democrats block every attempt to actually make it fair and accurate - how is that a lie or a delusion?

  • Number 7||

    but why is this the hill he wants to die on. It does show a very egotistical man who can't let go the fact that he WON for Christ's sake but the other candidate received more votes. Who cares. If your true aim is to lead the country and do what you were elected to do, how do you even have time for this kind of shit? Or the size of the crowd.

  • Rhywun||

    I honestly don't give a damn how egotistical he is - it's kind of job requirement. I do care about rooting out fraud.

  • Tony||

    But only in-person voter fraud, a problem not only known not to exist in any practical sense, but that is theoretically absurd. What about how the loser of the vote gets to be president? Or how the party that receives the fewest votes for congressional races gets to run Congress? How about that bullshit?

  • Spinach Chin||

    Not familiar with how stuff works, eh?

    Also, you can't state that something definitively doesn't exist. Only that no evidence has been found.

    Of course, that doesn't apply to voter fraud, so yes, you're wrong.

  • Mark22||

    But only in-person voter fraud, a problem not only known not to exist in any practical sense

    And the evidence for that is... where?

  • hello.||

  • Unconscience||

    from that linked article "We don't know the exact number of illegal votes. No one does."

    so it could be zero.it could be a million. you interpret it the way you want, doesn't prove a thing

    and you can come over here and suck my dick, pretty boy.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Die on?

    Are you paying attention to anything other than media spin?

    This isn't anything that can hurt Trump--this is WHY he got elected.

  • Gene Poole||

    "If your true aim is to lead the country and do what you were elected to do, how do you even have time for this kind of shit?"

    Good question. If some evil international conspirators (like, oh, the MIC) wanted to see to it that Amerika's political system was put out of commission for a few years, all they needed to do was get Trump elected and then fuel the move to get rid of him at any cost. The bonus: The credibility of that system and of the mainstream media are irreparably damaged.

  • I can't even||

    Did millions of illegals vote to give Hillary the popular vote?

    Yes. Reason hates the topic so they ignored this study from 2 weeks ago that shows that Trump's statements about the vote are probably accurate.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....n-estimat/

  • Lester224||

  • hello.||

    "I can't refute the information. I know! I'll attack the source"

    Very clever. You should have been around 3,000 years ago when it was formalized as a logical fallacy.

    Here's the actual study. Want to give us your analysis?

  • commentguy||

    You might want to read one of the "citing articles" that is something of a takedown of the article you linked :)

  • SIV||

    That mistake, to which I myself am sometimes prone, clouds the judgment and damages the credibility of reporters and commentators

    Even Jake says Reason is a damaged monger of fake news.

  • 68W58||

    One thing Trump demonstrated during the campaign was that he was not as reliant on the media as traditional candidates in getting his message out. So, it's little wonder that he treats them with contempt because he recognizes that they are little use to him,

  • ||

    Sulzberger and Baquet promised to "report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor"

    These scumbags' idea of reporting without favor is to whip out a pair of builder's grade presidential knee pads every time a Democrat is in office or in the hunt. The beauty of their irrelevance is the complete obliviousness.

  • Max S.||

    No media uproar over "If you like your doctor, you can keep him" or "If you like your insurance you can keep it." Both now known to be cynically created statements to deceive the "naive" public.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    According to Professor Gruber, Obama's lies were crafted to exploit "the stupidity of the American voter", not his naïveté.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Actually that was Politifact's Lie of the Year.

    Although I kept my doctor and same insurer like most everyone did. Of course it wasn't true for 100% of us.

    Politifact also lists a record amount of flagrant lies by Trump.

    http://www.politifact.com/pers.....ants-fire/

  • Jerryskids||

    You can split hairs all day long about what exactly constitutes a lie or a meaningful lie, but Trump's at best a huckster and his terminological inexactitude is no different than any salesman telling you his product is the best in the world and his prices insanely low. Is it a lie if it's bullshit and everybody knows it's bullshit?

    Or possibly Trump is a sociopath and has no idea what right and wrong, good and bad, honesty and dishonesty even mean and doesn't care.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I guess the biggest question is, is it worth it to figure out which of Trump's statements are which?

    Whether they are wrong because he doesn't know, or wrong because he's lying I don't know if it really matters. Maybe it reflects on his soul, and whether God forgives his sins or some shit. But beyond that, I don't know how much practical difference it makes.

    He should probably be called on it either way.

  • hello.||

    Since at least 50% of what the media is "calling out" Trump on, including most of the examples in this shit pile of an article, aren't actually lies and aren't actually untrue but rather propaganda made up out of whole cloth and "anonymous sources", maybe the media is full of shit and we should spend more of our time calling that out.

  • hello.||

    Oh good, I was hoping we could get a professional psychological profile of the president. We haven't had any good sociopaths in office since the time a Republican was elected.

  • Dillinger||

    the concept of "lie" is dead.

  • Zeb||

    Nothing is true, everything is permitted.

  • Dillinger||

    exactly...or inversely

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Yes, after "Iraq has a nuclear weapons program" all other lies seem pale.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>all other lies seem pale

    a stretch, but yes the "Nucular Lie-or-Not-Lie" is a good example

  • Social Justice is neither||

    You mean the same lie Clinton, Albright, Chirac and Kofi Anan (sp?) used?

    It wasn't true but there were incentives for everyone to believe it was true until verified otherwise.

  • Spinach Chin||

    That wasn't a lie.

    Stating something you believe to be true at the time, only to be proven wrong later is not a lie.

    But you knew that.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Yes it was a lie, and they knew it was a lie because they had to fabricate evidence.

  • hello.||

    All of it from the Clinton administration and the UN. Yet there's only one person you want to hold accountable.

  • Bruce D||

    Bush may have been stupid but not stupid enough to fail to use due dilgence to examine intelligence reports closely. He wanted a certain conclusion amd he got it.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Trump is a politician. Of course, he speaks untruths, half-truths, and outright lies with regularity. All politicians do this, and it has been recognized that deception is essential to politics since ancient times.

    The mainstream media also engages in both intentional deceit and the unintentional propagation of untruth. Mass media is relatively new, but its propensity to misinform has been recognized for quite some time ("If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed." BTW, if you've ever read that Mark Twain wrote that, it was fake news. However, the mis-attributed quote dates back to 1914.)

    Both Trump and the mainstream media are delusional. Trump's ego drives his delusions. Trump Derangement Syndrome drives the media's delusions about Russian hacking, Russian campaign funding, the emoluments clause, the 25th amendment, Trump's racism, Trump's homophobia, Trump's being Putin's puppet, Trump's advocacy of physical violence against journalists, etc., etc. There are many objectively valid points to criticize Trump: he is objectively vulgar and he is a sexist and he is incredibly ignorant. What the mainstream media and the Left generally fails to recognize is that Trump supporters, fence-sitters, and libertarians like myself see the continuous generation of fake Trump scandals by the media as being as ridiculous as they thought the whole "birther" non-scandal was.

  • Zeb||

    Trump is also Trump, and self promotion and making himself seem bigger and more important than he is has always been his thing.

  • Bra Ket||

    Same as the last guy. Just a difference in style, plus hatred rather than love from the media.

  • Mongo||

    Trump comes across as Mr. Haney with Oliver Douglas' wealth.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    And Arnold Ziffel's manners.

  • gaoxiaen||

    And Eb's intelligence.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Arnold Ziffel had impeccable manners, thank you very much.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    He is more like Archie Bunker - stupid and proud of it.

  • CptNerd||

    How can you say the possible fraudulent votes are "phantom" when no one is allowed to check the validity of voter registrations, and when the Democrat Party actively blocks any attempt to remove anyone from the rolls, including dead people and people who aren't legally allowed to vote?

  • Zeb||

    Perhaps that's what makes them phantom votes. Or does a phantom have to be something that doesn't really exist materially?

  • Tony||

    Citation needed.

  • hello.||

    Here's one. Need about 20 million more? Google is your friend.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The journalists who cover him tend to treat every inaccurate, unfounded, or even debatable statement he makes as a lie. That mistake . . . clouds the judgment and damages the credibility of reporters".

    I think a lot of it is about the contempt elitists have for average Americans. They're treating Trump like a whipping boy.

    I think the elitists in the White House press corps are contemptuous of average Americans, and they see it as their job to make average Americans reject Trump--for all the same reasons they do.

    I don't think it's an unintended consequence of anything. They mean to undermine Trump's support. They believe that undermining Trump is their job, and their employers may believe that, as well.

  • Bra Ket||

    I just assume they're essentially the same as all the rest of us arguing on the internet. Generally below average at it too.

  • mtrueman||

    "I think the elitists in the White House press corps are contemptuous of average Americans, and they see it as their job to make average Americans reject Trump--for all the same reasons they do."

    I may be a bit more cynical about the press than you are, but dig this: if the press wants to put the kibosh on a politician's career they don't need the help of the American people, just their attention. They did it to Howard Dean and Gary Hart for example. The press and Trump have had a very good relationship; Trump didn't miss a televised debate after he blew Iowa. Now that he's president, no reason why they still can't benefit each other, even if it in the guise of some phony spectacle, Trump vs. the media. So, in a word I don't think much of your attempts at reading the minds of washington's elite press corps.

  • hello.||

    So, in a word I don't think much of your attempts at reading the minds of washington's elite press corps.

    Isn't your nutbag conspiracy theorizing about a media plot against your beloved Democrats doing the same thing you retarded piece of monkey shit?

  • mtrueman||

    No, I disagree with Ken Shultz and explained why. Any other questions?

  • Tony||

    How dare the press trash on a man who provided them with such ratings. How dare the president trash on the press that gave him the presidency.

  • ||

    It's a fine line between lying and the President's self-delusion. Philosopher Harry Frankfurt covered this distinction nicely in his extended essay "On Bullshit" :

    "Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without
    knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated
    whenever a person's obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic are
    more excessive than his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This
    discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frequently impelled —
    whether by their own propensities or by the demands of others — to speak
    extensively about matters of which they are to some degree ignorant. Closely
    related instances arise from the widespread conviction that it is the responsibility
    of a citizen in a democracy to have opinions about everything, or at least
    everything that pertains to the conduct of his country's affairs. The lack of any
    significant connection between a person's opinions and his apprehension of
    reality will be even more severe, needless to say, for someone who believes it his
    responsibility, as a conscientious moral agent, to evaluate events and conditions in
    all parts of the world."

    Trump is an unrivaled master of bullshit, and the tragic (for us) part is that he believes his own bullshit.

  • geo||

    "Trump is an unrivaled master of bullshit" True, but that's what the media gets so pissed off about. They see that as their job.

  • TheWildWebster||

    I'm wondering --- after reading so-called 'Reason' articles for a number of months and finding a number of not only unreasonable, but some outright outlandishly false or entirely presumptive ideas stated as though they were proven fact, by what standard does anyone at 'Reason' or otherwise writing for this website have in calling something else 'Delusional'? Personal experience???

  • Empress Trudy||

    Reason paints themselves in a corner when they go on the warpath against Trump if for no other 'reason' that politics is what you accomplish.

  • ||

    So far, Trump has accomplished almost nothing beyond a stream of presidential executive orders, many of which have had little or no impact, or have been nullified by the courts. Trump is the most ineffective president in my lifetime. Today he claimed credit for economic numbers which fall short of those in 2016, when Obama was president.

  • hello.||

    Obama passed 2 pieces of major legislation in his entire 8 year presidency and accomplished the entire rest of his agenda via executive action, which has largely been dismantled by Trump already. What had Obama done 6 months into his presidency that was more impressive, in your mind? Closed Gitmo?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Within two months he passed the American Recovery Act - very major. There was the ACA and Dodd-Frank, the JOBS Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act, That is five big ones right there.

    You obviously don't know very much.

  • Taito7||

    Is it any more settling if the President can't tell the difference between facts and fiction? Is it any less worry some if Trump is delusional? What if he is presented with evidence and decides to ignore it because in his gut he knows XXXXX?

  • John B. Egan||

    Although I understand the logic of trying to determine which of his constant inaccurate statements are plainly incorrect, and which our out and out lies, in reality what difference doe it make. This is not a court of law, where a jury is trying to establish malicious intent, this is the one person who represents the whole of our nation of 320 million Americans on the world's stage. He absolutely needs to be called out on every error and every lie. His lack of intellect, veracity, or impulse control mal-affects each and every one of us. And THAT is his problem. Lay off the press for being confused by this whiny little man-baby.

  • hello.||

    You mean like when the president went in front of the UN and told the world that YouTube and freedom of speech were responsible for terrorism? The only fact the press is capable if distinguishing is whether the president has an R or a D next to their time, and that alone determines their reporting. Maybe you should get out of CNN's upper colon every once and a while.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>Lay off the press

    Never.

  • XM||

    "Lying" about inauguration attendance size and voter fraud is largely inconsequential. Going back on campaign promises is more of an issue.

    Obama promised to pass major immigration reform in the first 100 day of office. He didn't. He promised transparency. He ignored it. Trump repeated republican pledge to fully repeal ACA but he never followed up on it. Bombing a nation without congressional approval - yep, Trump did that too, although he went after Obama for that.

    The mind blowing thing about Trump is that he's not that much more of chronic liar compared to other politicians. Only his delivery is more noteworthy. A "lying" politician will say something like "this spending program will save taxpayers money and cut down cost". Trump is likely say something like "My plan is yuge and everyone will love it ok its yuge".

    He does have an unhealthy obsessions with spinning conspiracy theories, but he's certainly not alone. When the left sees some object hung on a tree, they'll spin their share of yarns without a shred of proof.

    Obama is less of a showman than Trump, but he was a more complete product. Not only did he lie, but he hid truth from the press, and he prosecuted a record number of whistle blowers. His was one of the least transparent admin in modern history.

  • Craig J Bolton||

    Well, it certainly is more respectful of the President and more reassuring to the nation to imagine that he is simply out of touch with reality so much that he appears to be lying on a daily basis.

  • geo||

    I find the most amusing part of all this is that Trump often says something that sounds like total fiction, and a few weeks later it turns out to be essentially true. Meanwhile the media refuse to report that his suspicions were correct because they invested so much effort in trying to prove him wrong. He makes fools of the media and they react by trying to make him look worse. Recall when Trump claimed the Obama administration was spying on him? They called him a fool. Now who's the fool?

  • mondo_cane||

    This essay in its final form has whittled itself down to being nothing but a discussion of perceptions. And 10 people can see the same thing and each have a different impression of it.

    But taking history and past performance into account, this is a blatant lie: "Sulzberger and Baquet promised to "report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you"; to "hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly"; and "to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team."

    They know they're lying. We know they're lying. So what's the charade leading to?

  • Headache||

    "That mistake, to which I myself am sometimes prone,"

    Sullum is delusional or a liar.

  • Headache||

    Maybe Trump was trying to trick people into ignoring plain photographic evidence that his inaugural audience

    The time stamps of the photos are not the same. The left was 30 minutes before Obama arrived. The right was 54 minutes before Trump was to arrive.

  • Budbug||

    The press no longer has any credibility which can be "undermined".
    It's obviously left-wing bias has, for the last 3 decades in its zeal to find another Watergate, softsoaped every Liberal transgression, no matter how grievous, and exaggerated or spun every Conservative misstep, no matter how minor.
    The odd FOX or OAN return the jabs with equal Conservative bias, and get high ratings just because of the contrast.

    The Internet has given people a look behind the propaganda curtain, and their perception of potential malice with respect to politicians has resulted in Trump, a non-politician who, for all his shortcomings, is perceived as non-malevolent and wanting to do the right thing while disregarding ideology. Trump is, however, sharp enough to know the pendulum swing of Left/Right is back on the Right after the Left's decade of power.

    The press cannot win until it learns to contain its bias and report objectively. I'm not optimistic on that possibility.

  • ||

    Trump put the mirror of the face of the journalist class and they didn't like what they saw.

    Simple as that.

  • ||

    Everyone is full of shit.

    Obama said the biggest of all lies 'you can keep your doctor' (never mind the endless streams of bull shit he spat in the faces of the country) and we're still pimping out the stupid inauguration as an example?

    Give me a break.

    I hope this is Sullum's TDS quota for the month because I can't bear to read more of this.

  • The Pessimistic Shrink||

    All the talk about Trump's Narcissistic Personality Disorder has missed a point. It's quite possible to be a high-order Narcissist and not be reprehensible. He (or she) could be a real productive genius, a very learned and widely competent person. He could, by the accident of his child psychology, find it to his egoistic purposes to be an actual do-gooder, a carer about people and the world, even though it would ultimately be for his power and prestige (what are called "narcissistic supplies"). He could be gallant and funny, not a boor like Trump. He could, shiny ego notwithstanding, value truth in most arenas outside of his personal glory. It's not simply the Narcissism that ruins this president's quality; it's the Narcissism that's so gauchely joined to complacent ignorance, empty bravado, incompetence, and a crude rejection of truth.

  • josh||

    The president is a fascinating psychological mixture of a man who doesn't know, doesn't care, and can't tell the difference between what's real and not.

    If he needs a new TV show idea when he gets out of office, he can broadcast him being diagnosed by a panel of doctors.

  • LifeStrategies||

    Jacob. You obviously missed the retraction on Trump's inauguration crowd size, article title: CNN Quietly Releases Updated Pic Showing Trump's Inaugural Crowd Size Greater than Obama's 2009 Inaugural Crowd, at:

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.co.....-was-huge/

    "However, the pictures in the article show the crowd size for Obama when he was speaking during his 2009 inauguration with the crowd from Trump's inauguration approximately 3 hours before Trump spoke.

    "CNN's report was another of their 'Fake News' lies. The photos used in their post were not comparing apples to apples and President Trump's Press Secretary pointed this out on Saturday in a special press conference. Trump's crowd was huge and every bit as big as Obama's crowd in 2009. Also, in CNN's article they say that Obama had 1.8 million people in 2009. This is now refuted and is more likely closer to 800,000."

    So will you investigate the issue, and open-mindedly report the real facts? What time did Trump speak? and what time did Obama speak?

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