America’s right-wing has distinguished itself as a vocal opponent of the free press and the First Amendment. For many decades they have made reporters a convenient foil for their failures and an object of their hatred. And today they are obediently following Donald Trump’s lead in casting the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the American people.”
When Michelle Wolf performed a comedy routine at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday, the wrath of the right was triggered once again to malign her for going to far with her jokes. They were bitterly offended that she had the gall to call out Trump and his chief spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for repeatedly and brazenly lying to the public. Never mind that what Wolf said in jest on Saturday was nowhere near as offensive as what Trump says seriously every day. And his petty revenge rally held the same day as the WHCD provided several examples.
Among those outraged by Wolf was Matt Schlapp, TV talking head and the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which produces the annual Conservative Action Political Conference (CPAC). Schlapp, it should be noted, never bothered criticizing Trump for mocking a disabled reporter, or attacking Mika Brzezinski’s “bleeding face,” or grabbing women by the pussy, or any number of other atrocious remarks. But he couldn’t stop himself from complaining about Wolf’s completely valid criticism of Trump and Huckabee as liars. In an interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota (video below), Schlapp said that Wolf’s routine was beyond the pale, and that:
“We have big political disagreements in this country. And I thinbk it’s wrong for journalists to take that next step. And granted, she’s a comedian, but plenty of journalists do it as well – is they take the next step. Just present the facts. Let the American people decide if they think someone’s lying.
“Journalists shouldn’t be the ones to say that the President or his spokesperson is lying. Because what that does to fifty percent of the country is it makes them feel they are not credible to listen to.”
At risk of stating the obvious: Journalists should absolutely be the ones to say that the President or his spokesperson is lying. It is the express duty of reporters to present the facts at all times. And when any public official misrepresents or distorts the facts, they need to be corrected unambiguously. And it’s much more than just pointing out that a comment differs from reality. The honesty of our political representatives is a crucial part of democracy, and they shouldn’t be let off the hook when they lie.
Conservative journalists have never been shy about calling Democrats liars. They used the term when criticizing President Obama for saying about the Affordable Care Act that “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” They said Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi. Trump himself accused Clinton (falsely) of lying under oath to the FBI. But suddenly it is now “beyond the pale” to point out Trump’s lies.
Perhaps the rightist snowflakes have to draw a line because of the unwieldy quantity of lies that Trump exudes. Admittedly, it is a huge burden to have to monitor his unrelenting mendacity. But it has to be done, and journalists are exactly the right people to do it. They have the facts at their disposable and a platform for setting the record straight. Which is why Trump and shills like Schlapp hate the press so much.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Prominent conservative Matt Schlapp says that journalists should not say when the President/spokespeople are lying, and that they should leave it up to the American people to decide pic.twitter.com/tD2xuSacuH
— Kate Riga (@Kate_Riga24) April 30, 2018