Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trump takes on the media. Media responds by lying.

Capture from CNN's gigapixel photo of the inauguration. Take note of the white building in the background.

One of the various photos being spread by the media. The white building does not show the crowd that was there when Trump was speaking in the gigapixel photo. See the white building again.  PBS

Donald Trump has taken a combative tone with the news media after his inauguration. Reuters. Donald Trump and his press secretary say they are in a running war with the media after accusing them of lying about the size of his crowds at the inauguration. Trump has accused the media of misleading the people by posting edited photos that downplay the size of his crowds. Press Secretary Spicer also claimed that the inauguration was the most watched ever. Trump and Spicer also complained about verified fake news claiming that the MLK bust was removed from the White House.

My Comment:
Though Trump wasn't completely correct in his complaints, Obama's 2009 inauguration did have more viewers and a larger crowd, he is also completely justified in attacking the media here. As you can see above someone is being completely dishonest here. The viral photos I have seen that have made the mall look half empty are fake news. The tiniest bit of fact checking shows that the 2nd image I posted was complete bunk. It was obviously taken before Trump was speaking. The crowd is obviously still smaller than the one Obama had, but you can't argue that the media isn't being dishonest here. 

There are also some obvious mitigating factors that hurt Trump's crowd size. The most obvious was weather. In 2009, Obama had cold but clear weather and no rain. Trump had to contend with rain which will always depress crowd numbers. 

Barack Obama also didn't have to deal with the kind of security that Trump had. After all, far left protesters were doing everything in their power to disrupt and damage the inauguration event. There was rioting in the streets and very heavy security. The violence probably convinced a few people to stay home and the security meant that a lot of people were still waiting in line when the event happened. 
Another CNN screengrab showing the crowds of people that hadn't gotten in yet. 

Even more people who had not gotten in yet as Trump was speaking. Note again that these crowds aren't visible in the viral images 

Finally, and most obviously, Trump's core of support is not in the mostly liberal East Coast. Much of his support came from the Midwest rust belt, the deep south and rural areas in general. There are very few Republicans in Washington DC and the surrounding areas. I know for a fact that I would have gone to the inauguration if it wasn't a 13 hour drive or an expensive airplane ticket. The fact that Trump was able to get that many people there at all is a minor miracle and shows how dedicated Trump's fans are. 

So even if numbers were down for Trump's inauguration it's not some kind of huge statement about him being an unpopular president. He has massive support but various factors, including violence from the left, depressed turnout. Even though turnout was down, the media made it look like hardly anyone showed up and never mentioned any of the mitigating factors. That's a valid reason for Trump to complain and if the circumstances had been similar for Barack Obama they would be bending over backward to do the exact opposite that was done to Trump. 

And Trump was correct to complain that the story about him removing the MLK bust was fake news. That never happened but the media reported that he did. That's two verifiable lies 1 day into his presidency. Trump is damn right to complain about that. 

I hope that Trump continues to hammer the press. I would be happy if he starts pulling credentials from some of these news organizations who lie to the American people to their faces and then accuse the president of lying when they are called out on their falsehoods.

Don't get me wrong. Trump does have a creative relationship with the truth. He often exaggerates and misleads.  That is, of course, universal for politicians and, indeed, humans in general. The press can and should call him out when he makes a mistake or says something that isn't true. 

But to do that they need credibility and right now they have zero. As I was reading up in preparation for this post I had just assumed that Spicer was correct and that this was the most viewed in history. That wasn't true (but it was damn close and beat out other inaugurations) but I thought it was false anyways because it was so obvious that the media was lying about the crowd size. That's the danger of having a dishonest media. Without credibility they can't call out the president when he is in the wrong. People won't believe them. 

My general stance, when it comes to Trump, is to disbelieve everything I hear in the media until I can confirm it from different sources. What I tend to do is look at primary sources without the filter of the media. In this case I looked at photos of the inauguration itself. When it is a speech I listen to what Trump actually said in context instead of the short clips or quotes shown in the MSM. When it is a tweet, I actually go and look at his twitter feed. Very often, I have found the media either out and out lying about what happened or greatly exaggerating what was said. 

The problem is that people don't do that largely because it takes too much time. And the entire purpose of the media is so you don't have to do that kind of fact checking yourself. The media is supposed to be unbiased and fair. In the past you could trust them to give everyone a fair shake. That isn't true anymore but I am shocked that so many people just assume that it is... 

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