Donald Trump’s war on the media is still in full swing. Everyday he escalates the assault with juvenile insults and utterly baseless criticisms. While past presidents have had contentious relationships with the press, none have been so overtly hostile.
Trump’s unambiguous purpose is to delegitimize the media and neutralize it as an independent source of information. He barks ferociously about what he calls “fake news,” but which is actually just reporting that he doesn’t like. And he rarely backs up his accusations with anything resembling facts.
On Wednesday, White House senior advisor and purveyor of “alternative facts,” Kellyanne Conway, was interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper. The entire interview (video below) was a striking display of journalistic integrity matched with surreal political spin. Tapper made several references to Trump’s frequent public lying, and he actually used the word “lie.” Meanwhile, Conway dodged almost every question with canned responses straight from White House talking points.
However, a couple of exchanges deserve closer scrutiny. First of all, Tapper addresses the President’s disparaging comments about CNN head on:
“Certainly the media makes mistakes. But it’s very difficult to hear those criticisms from a White House that has such little regard, day in day out, for facts, for truth. And who calls us ‘fake news’ for stories they don’t like”
Conway insists that, despite the evidence, they have a “high respect for the truth.” But Tapper persists and later asks pointedly “Is CNN fake news?” Conway replies:
“No, I don’t think CNN is fake news. I think there are some reports everywhere. In print, on TV, on radio, in conversations that are not well-researched and are sometimes based on falsehoods.”
So Conway is expressly contradicting her boss who has repeatedly called CNN “fake news.” For instance:
Reports by @CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are ridiculous & untrue – FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2016
.@CNN is in a total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2017
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
Perhaps Conway will be called to the principals office for a reprimand. By proclaiming that CNN isn’t fake news after all she is, by extension, validating their prior reporting on Trump. He isn’t gonna like that. But something even worse slipped later in the interview. While discussing one of Trump’s recent whoppers, Tapper tried to get Conway to respond without swerving off into something irrelevant. It wasn’t easy. Finally he said:
TAPPER: “I’m talking about the President of the United States saying things that are not true, demonstrably not true. That is important.”
CONWAY: “Are they more important than the many things that he says that are true? That are making a difference in people’s lives?”
And there you have it. Conway just admitted that Trump says things that are demonstrably untrue (as if we didn’t already know). Sure, she attempts to dismiss them as being less important than some other unidentified truthful statements. But occasional bouts of alleged honesty do not excuse purposeful lying, which she unequivocally conceded takes place. And yes, the President lying IS more important than the things he ways that are true. President’s are expected to tell the truth. They don’t get extra points for doing so.
Now, only two questions remain. Will Trump be held accountable for deliberately deceiving the American people? And will Kellyanne Conway be sent to Gitmo? Stay tuned.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.