“There’s been a lot of talk in the media of the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable, and I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways. We’re going to hold the press accountable as well.” – Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary
Spicer’s comments came a day after President Donald Trump’s historic inauguration while addressing the media regarding stories which were, according to Spicer, either misleading or completely false of the newly elected Trump Administration.
The Trump Administration has been successful in debunking reports, and the President has never been shy to call out media outlets for inaccurate reporting.
For example, during his first press conference on January 11, the then President-elect refused to take questions from CNN White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, stating, “Not you. Your organization is terrible. I’m not going to give you a question,” accusing CNN of reporting “fake news”.
The confrontation resulted from a story that the cable network aired which featured a 30-page document, from an unknown former British intelligent agent, loaded with incriminating accusations that Trump and his organization had ties with Russia.
Information in the document created the narrative that Russia had incriminating information on Trump and that they were planning to blackmail him.
None of the information was verified or confirmed. In fact, several high-ranking U.S. government officials reviewed the 30-page document and determined the accusations were false.
CNN’s report on the document didn’t reveal the actual contents, only mentioning allegations that Russia, supposedly, had intel on Trump. However, online news organization Buzzfeed pushed the issue further, releasing the 30-page document online. Upon release of the unverified documents, Buzzfeed added that much of the information contained errors and had not been substantiated. According to a Buzzfeed spokesperson, the organization’s decision to release the documents was so the American public could view them and arrive at their own conclusions.
A Fascist Story
Following the press conference, President Trump faced political backlash from liberals upset with his refusal to answer Acosta’s questions, even going as far to accuse the President of using a fascist strategy; a technique resembling the very brainwashing methods Hitler and the Nazi’s used in the 1940’s.
At the present time, the only thing which can be verified is the fact that none of the information has been verified.
Does this give Trump the right to brush off the CNN White House Correspondent? Perhaps. The reality is, the story was false. When Buzzfeed posted it online, a false narrative was created about the president, available for the world to see. Buzzfeed’s decision to release the information likely did one of two things:
- Fueled the fire for those who opposed Trump.
People love gossip and rumors. Unfortunately, many take rumors as facts, especially if a news organization posts it. Therefore, if Trump-haters read through the list of unverified documents it’s likely the information would feed into their current negative perception of him.
- Discredited Buzzfeed as a reliable source by Trump supporters.
As a so-called news organization, printing the 30-pages of unverified documents can be perceived as irrational and unprofessional. Plus, it showed Buzzfeed’s intent to slant the story to accommodate liberal hatred toward Trump. With the amount of skepticism surrounding possible political affiliations, it would have been wise for Buzzfeed to, perhaps, hold off printing the documents as it created a perception that the media news organization was intentionally out to damage Trump’s reputation and character.
Fact-checking or Narrative-Creating?
As we saw over this last election cycle, all too often information by the media gets distorted. Narratives were created and facts got diluted.
There were many so-called fact checkers working hard to validate or call out both Trump and democratic nominee, U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton, following the three debates. There would be posts from the fact-checking organizations the following day, validating or dismissing claims both candidates made. Of course, with the amount of fake news and false narratives, it led to speculations that even fact-checking organizations may not be completely unbiased.
Here are just a few examples which different media sources and liberal loyalists attempted to create negative narratives of the current U.S. President.
Numbers Don’t Add Up
A photo posted by CNN on January 20, 2017, showed very low attendance at Trump’s inauguration.
It circulated around the internet next to a photo of Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, which showed a massive overflow of people in attendance.
Days later it was revealed that CNN failed to report a few important details.
First, the photo of Trump’s inauguration was taken earlier in the morning as people were arriving. The photo of Obama’s inauguration was as he was giving his Presidential Address.
Now, Obama’s inauguration did have more people in attendance, that’s a fact. Let’s not forget, however, it was historic with Obama being the first black president. Plus, Obama’s inauguration happened to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day (celebrated a day prior to Obama’s inauguration), which means it is likely that many people took the extra day off to attend.
There have also been speculations as to the actual crowd size CNN reported for Obama’s inauguration.
CNN stated 1.8 million were in attendance in 2009. According to Fast Company, a research firm who counts crowd sizes, if that number was, in fact, accurate, not only would people be packed in like sardines, the crowd would have overflowed across the Pontiac River. It’s believed the number was closer to 800,000, a major difference. Based on aerial shots of both inaugurations, crowd attendance was nearly the same.
Fast Company also credited some of the potential lower turnout at Trump’s inauguration based on safety concerns. Many Trump supporters feared being attacked by groups of liberal protestors.
During Obama’s inaugurations, there were no concerns of 2008 Republican nominee John McCain supporters or 2012 Republican Nominee Mitt Romney supporters violently assaulting Obama followers. If there were protests during either Obama inaugurations, they were small and non-violent. During Trump’s inauguration, significant violence took place in Washington D.C. as protestors damaged buildings, set a limo on fire, blocked entrances to the inauguration, and attacked Trump supporters.
Forgetting Your Wife
Another photo circulated around the internet of President Trump entering the White House, after being greeted by the Obama’s, ahead of his wife Melania.
The photo came with a caption stating, “If the President treats his wife like this, can you imagine how he’ll run the country?” The photo showed Trump going inside first, followed by the Obama’s, with Melania trailing behind.
However, upon watching the full video of the moment, Trump stops and lets his wife get in front of him, like a gentleman should.
Removing MLK Memorabilia
A Tweet circulated around the internet, sent by a reporter who visited the White House, which went viral stating the Trump Administration had removed a portion of Martin Luther King Jr’s statute. The reporter later apologized for Tweeting the incident and said a secret service man must have been blocking his view.
Mocking Disabled Man
While campaigning, Hillary Clinton’s campaign team ran commercials where Trump supposedly made fun of a disabled New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from congenital joint condition.
After further review, it was understood Trump was making fun of the reporter but not for his disability. The reporter wrote a story about Trump’s comments of witnessing foreigners cheering as the Twin Towers in New York came crashing down on September 11, 2001.
The initial report stated Trump was wrong and no foreign nationals were confirmed cheering.
Weeks later video surfaced of foreigners, in fact, cheering. The reporter, who had left the New York Times to work for the Washington Post, when asked about his story stated he didn’t remember what he had written about.
Trump made sarcastic references to the reporter’s supposed “lack of memory”.
Yet, never once made fun of the reporter’s disability. There are numerous other clips of Trump using the same hand signals in his speeches where he’s poking fun at someone who said something about him in which he disagreed.
Even after the story was debunked, Meryl Streep made headlines at the Golden Globe Awards, rehashing the narrative.
Liberals used still frames of Trump where his hand was twisted in the same position as the disabled reporter. Yet, after watching the video, it’s clear the still frame was a narrative created to imply he was insensitive toward the physically disabled.
An attempt to damage Trump’s character and win more votes for Clinton.
Uninformed and Misinformed
When asked his take on the role of the media, Hollywood actor, Denzel Washington, gave the perfect response stating, “If you don’t read the newspaper then you’re uninformed, however, if you do read the newspaper then you’re misinformed.”
So, the American public basically relies on the news yet is now in charge of interpreting the accuracy of each story.
Fake news and false narratives are now at the forefront of viewer’s minds.
The 2016 election cycle revealed how media outlets may slant stories in favor of political parties. Yet, regardless how competitive the field of journalism becomes, in a perfect world, the media is supposed to be unbiased. The news was supposed to be reported in a way that all facts were presented and left up to viewers to arrive at their own conclusions.
Are CNN and Buzzfeed more focused on creating narratives than reporting facts? Unfortunately, there’s no solid answer to that question. If you asked a number of people who support different party affiliations, you’re likely to get a number of different responses.
However, one thing’s for certain, misinforming viewers can lead to future devastating consequences for the nation. Innocent white police officers, who followed portal during an arrest or shooting, could be demonized as racists; political fears inciting unnecessary protests which turn violent; or, giving into certain group’s demands, which may not be healthy for America, for fears of being considered discriminating.
The power of fake news creates false perceptions and distorts reality which has and will continue to brainwash many U.S. citizens down many dangerous paths.