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6/2/2018 6:34:00 PM
COMMENTARY: The man who mastered 'fake news'

Kelly Hawes, Herald Bulletin CNHI News Indiana Columnist

President Donald J. Trump offered his usual slap at the press corps during a rally in Nashville.

“They’re fake,” he told the crowd. “They are fake.”

Moments later, New York Times reporter Julie Davis spotted a young boy pointing an iPhone at the assembled reporters while parroting the president’s remarks. 

“A child who will grow up believing a free and fair press is the enemy, a bad thing, to be mocked and hated,” she lamented on Twitter.

Fellow Times reporter Jeremy Peters chimed in.

“This is appalling,” he wrote. “That Trump has coarsened political speech is one thing. But infecting and corrupting children is something no one should abide.”

The complaints drew no sympathy from the president’s supporters.

Typical was this reaction from a fellow named Robert Barnes: “Smart kid. He knows the press abandoned being either fair or free, or anything but fake, a long time ago.”

Jonathan Allen, a digital reporter for NBC News, described a man in a “Make America Great Again” hat at that same rally.

“Y'all are a bunch of retards,” the man said as he left the auditorium. “Retards.”

Of course, the president did not invent the sport of media bashing.

“This is not a Trump phenomenon,” a man named Scott Tibbs tweeted. “Conservatives have disliked and distrusted the mainstream media for decades now. If Trump never ran for office, that attitude would still be there.”

When it comes to “fake news,” though, the president is the master. Take the recent instance where he accused that same New York Times of manufacturing a source.

It turned out the story was based on remarks at a White House press briefing by one of the president’s senior advisers. And the comments were actually on tape.

Sometimes the president contradicts himself.

“Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” the president tweeted. “The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!”

And yet it is. The president himself said so in an interview with Lester Holt of NBC News. All it took to reveal the lie was to replay that portion of the interview.

Reporter Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star estimates the president averages nearly three lies a day. 

PolitiFact found lots of inaccuracies in the president’s remarks at that rally in Nashville.

Though the president said wages were "finally" going up, PolitiFact noted they'd actually been going up since the Obama administration. He also said his administration was removing MS-13 gang members "by the thousands,” but PoltiFact put the actual number closer to 1,200.

All told, PolitiFact counted 18 claims that were misleading, lacked context or were flat-out wrong.

Of course, when a reporter makes a mistake, the president delights in pointing it out.

“The Failing and Corrupt @nytimes estimated the crowd last night at ‘1000 people,’ when in fact it was many times that number – and the arena was rockin’,” the president tweeted. “This is the way they demean and disparage. They are very dishonest people who don’t ‘get’ me, and never did!”

To her credit, Davis responded with a tweet of her own.

“President @realDonaldTrump is correct about his crowd last night,” she wrote. “My estimate was way off, and we have corrected our story to reflect the fire marshal’s estimate of 5,500 people. When we get it wrong, we say so.”

That’s what responsible journalists do. They work hard to uncover the truth, and when they mess up, they admit it.

As for the president, he has his own formula when caught misstating the facts. He just keeps lying.

2018 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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