There really is not a fine line between fact and fiction, and truth or lies. Taking the essence of someone’s speech and warping it in such a manner to fit an agenda is always iniquitous. News outlets hellbent on discrediting President Trump are actively engaged in this practice of removing the context of his speech to such a degree that it has become almost a daily practice. But in doing so, do these media institutions comprehend that they are continually damaging the credibility of their news industry?
Yet, it continues – almost unabated.
The latest dust-up of this type of advocacy journalism involves a study by the Department of Homeland Security regarding the effects of light, heat, and humidity on the Coronavirus. DHS Under Secretary for Science, Bill Bryan, said, “Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus.” He went on to report, “The virus is dying at a more rapid pace just from the exposure to higher temperatures and to humidity.”
In response to this study, President Trump said, “Question that probably some of you are thinking of if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light. And I think you [Bryan] said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it.” Then the president added, “Supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re gonna test that, too. Sounds interesting, right?”
Following this dialogue, a variety of headlines in large, metropolitan newspapers printed negative and misleading headlines. Once again, it appears these titles and articles intend to make Mr. Trump appear either ignorant of the facts, stupid and unable to understand what was said, or both.
White House Pushback
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany released a statement that said, in part, “President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing. Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
Anyone who has watched even one public appearance of Mr. Trump knows that his speech pattern is filled with riffs. His down-home manner of speaking is perhaps one of the endearing qualities that his supporters appreciate. President Trump talks in the same way a jazz musician would improvise a phrase of music. The people know this. And friend or foe, the media understands it as well. This style of conversation is ripe for misinterpretation, but his P.T. Barnum act is part and parcel of Donald J. Trump.
More Heat than Light
Lest we forget, the media is, first and foremost, a business. It must sell newspapers, online subscriptions, and everything in between to stay afloat. As the digital world continues to encroach on the old guard and its heretofore sovereign domain of providing information to the public, the press becomes more desperate to stay relevant. In concocting warped headlines and distorting the intent of the speaker instead of engaging in honest reporting, these journalists are igniting a self-immolating inferno that causes irreparable reputational damage to their own industry. For some reason, this has either not occurred to the establishment media – or it merely does not care. Do these members of the Fourth Estate imagine their reputation cannot go up in smoke because the very name of their institution has longevity and power?
As former news media giants create tornadoes out of breezes, their efforts only serve to provide more heat than light. The very definition of this phrase is to use inflammatory speech in such a way as to cause anger without making a topic better understood. This type of reporting may be provocative, but it certainly is not designed to promote understanding.
The Washington Post has connected its newspaper to an intriguing tag line that reads, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Of course, we know that darkness prompts irrationality, and light is necessary for understanding. But perhaps it should be pointed out that heat – often generated from anger and intense emotion – clouds rationality. In creating an absurd reality where words are not connected to their meaning, one wonders if the media establishment realize they are using their power as a weapon but are unable to perceive that they are pointing it at themselves.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.
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