To the Media: Words Matter. Stop Normalizing Trump – By Robert Reich

To the Media: Words Matter. Stop Normalizing Trump.

Robert Reich

Robert Reich | truthdig: digging beneath the headlines

Now that Donald Trump has been president for almost a year, it’s time the media called his behavior for what it is rather than try to normalize it. Here are the six most misleading media euphemisms for conduct unbecoming a president:

1. Calling Trump’s tweets “presidential statements” or “press releases.” “The President is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States,” Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, said last June when asked during his daily briefing how his tweets should be characterized.

Wrong. Trump’s tweets are mostly rants off the top of his head – many of them wild, inconsistent, rude, crude, and bizarre.   

Normal presidential statements are products of careful thought. Advisers weigh in. Consequences are considered. Alternatives are deliberated. Which is why such statements are considered important indicators of public policy, domestically and internationally.

Trump’s tweet storms are relevant only to judging his mood on a particular day at a particular time.

2. Referring to Mar-A-Lago as “the Winter White House.” The White House says the term is accurate because Trump does official business from there, and, besides, Mar-A-Lago’s former owner wanted the Palm Beach estate to become a presidential retreat.

Rubbish. Unlike the White House and Camp David, the traditional presidential retreat, both of which are owned by taxpayers, Mar-a-Lago is a profit-making business owned by Trump.

The White House is open for public tours; Mar-a-Lago is open only to members who can pay $200,000 to join.

Mar-a-Lago, along with the other Trump resort properties that he visits regularly, constitute a massive conflict of interest. Every visit promotes the Trump resort brand, adding directly to Trump’s wealth.

Normal presidents don’t make money off the presidency. Trump does. His resorts should be called what they are – Trump’s businesses.

3. Calling his lies “false claims” or “comments that have proved to be inaccurate.” BALONEY. They are lies, plain and simple.

Early last year the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief insisted that the Journal wouldn’t label Trump’s false statements as “lies.” Lying, said the editor, requires a deliberate intention to mislead, which couldn’t be proven in Trump’s case.

Last fall, NPR’s then news director, Michael Oreskes, defended NPR’s refusal to use the term “liar” when describing Trump, explaining that the word constitutes “an angry tone” of “editorializing” that “confirms opinions.”

In January, Maggie Haberman, a leading Times’ political reporter, claimed that her job was “showing when something untrue is said. Our job is not to say ‘lied.’ ”

WRONG. Normal presidents may exaggerate; some occasionally lie. But Trump has taken lying to an entirely new level. He lies like other people breath. Almost nothing that comes out of his mouth can assumed to be true.

For Trump, lying is part of his overall strategy, his Modus Operandi, and his pathology. Not to call them lies, or to deem him a liar, is itself misleading.

4. Referring to Trump’s and his aide’s possible “cooperation” or “coordination” with Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign.

THIS WON’T DO. “Cooperation” and “coordination” sound as if Trump and his campaign assistants were merely being polite to the Russians – engaged in a kind of innocent parallel play.

But nothing about what we’ve seen and heard so far suggests politeness or innocence. “Collusion” is the proper word, suggesting complicity in a conspiracy.

If true – if Trump or his aides did collude with the Russians to throw the election his way – they were engaged in “Treason”, another important word that rarely appears in news reports.

5. Calling Trump’s and Paul Ryan’s next move “welfare reform”, as in “Trump has suggested more than once that welfare reform might be the next big legislative item on his agenda.”

RUBBISH. They’re not going after “welfare.” Welfare – federal public assistance to the poor – was gutted in 1996. Trump and Ryan are aiming at Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

Nor are they seeking to “reform” these programs. They want to cut them in order to pay for the huge tax cut they’ve given corporations and the wealthy. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform,” Ryan said recently, “which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.”

Therefore, call it what it is: PLANNED CUTS in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

6. Describing Trump’s comments as “racially charged.” “Racially charged” sounds like Trump doesn’t intend them to be racist but some people hear them that way.

RUBBISH. Trump’s recent harangue against immigrants from “shitholes” in Latin America and Africa comes only weeks after The New York Times reported that at another Oval Office meeting Trump said Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and that Nigerians who visit the USA would never “go back to their huts.”

Trump is the man who built his political career on the racist lie that Barack Obama was born in Africa, who launched his presidential campaign with racist comments about Mexican immigrants, who saw “fine people on both sides” in the Charlottesville march of white supremacists, and who attacked African-American football players for being “unpatriotic” because they kneeled during the National Anthem to protest police discrimination.

Trump is the same man who in 1989 took out full page ads in New York newspapers demanding the return of the death penalty so it could be applied to five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park – and who still refuses to admit his error even though they were exonerated by DNA evidence.

Stop using terms like “racially charged” to describe his statements. FACE IT: Trump is a racist, and his comments are racist.

Words matter. It’s important to describe Trump accurately. Every American must understand who we have as president.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • Mark  On 02/09/2018 at 4:23 pm

    Leftists tend to omit the fact that white women use false accusations of sexual crimes as a weapon against Black men. This is where leftists and Right wingers usually form an alliance to believe the false accusation and to impose inhumane penalties.

    Leftists generally believe that using the death penalty on anyone, regardless of crime, is unjust. However, when it comes to false accusations from Caucasian women. leftists today would justify the death penalty in the name of protecting women.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/09/2018 at 10:55 pm

    Trump’s America will be Saddled with Debt – Just like his Bankrupted Hotels

    Richard Wolffe | The Guardian UK

    The Republican spending bill throws conservative principles – whatever remains of them – into the wind

    Once upon a time, conservatives said they hated Barack Obama because of his budget deficits.

    They said he was destroying America and its future, which made them very angry indeed. They were so mad about all those Obama debts that they invented a new party, and named it after the revolutionaries who opposed a nasty British King.

    The TEA PARTY was a collection of strange people, including one candidate who promised she wasn’t a witch. But the strangest thing happened after Obama moved out of the White House, and an orange man moved in. That was when conservatives all across America decided they didn’t actually hate debt and deficits after all.

    That was just one of the many ways Donald Trump made everyone happy in America all over again. Another one was the stock market, which sometimes goes up and sometimes goes down. Everyone was happy when it went up, and nobody talked about it when it went down.

    Donald Trump knows a lot about debt because he has created so much of it himself. He’s like a grand wizard of debt because he has magically escaped from several dark boxes of it. He also knows a few grand wizard types and thinks they are some very fine people.

    Grand Wizard Trump first learned his magic debt spells when he built a palace called the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. He called it the eighth wonder of the world, and it certainly was wonderful how the business went bankrupt a year after it opened.

    Five other Trump palaces went bankrupt the next year, but he waved his wand and everything turned out fine. For him.

    How did he escape from all that debt? “On occasion,” he told Hillary Clinton on television, “we used certain laws that are there.” That certainly put her in her place.

    Normal people find it hard to borrow money or run businesses after so many bankruptcies. But they don’t know the magic spells that Trump knows, and they don’t have a TV show that makes any buffoon look like a real businessman.

    They also don’t have Russian wizard friends who buy lots of their property at ridiculously high prices because that’s how they do something they call “laundry”.

    Now we all know that cleanliness is next to godliness, which is why our sparklingly clean president could say such godly things at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.

    “As long as we are true to America’s founding and the example that all of these great founders have set, we can all be heroes to everybody and they can be heroes to us,” said the man who heroically gave $130,000 to his friend Stormy Daniels so she could concentrate on her movie career.

    Trump was very happy to be talking at the prayer breakfast. Not because of the praying or the breakfasting, but because his best friend from TV was going to be there. “Will be heading over shortly to make remarks at The National Prayer Breakfast in Washington,” he tweeted. “Great religious and political leaders, and many friends, including TV producer Mark Burnett of our wonderful 14 season Apprentice triumph, will be there. Looking forward to seeing all!”

    Even the prayer people were happy to set aside their morals. They know that Trump’s kind of magical thinking is precisely what the world needs right now, otherwise everybody would get very upset at the way the planet is warming, the threat of nuclear war, and the global refugee crisis.

    Right now, we obviously need the kind of leader who is completely ignorant about the consequences, and just lives in the moment.

    Because if we don’t live in the here and now, we might start thinking about all those Trump-sized debts that will land after a corporate tax cut that blew apart the federal budget and a spending deal that now promises to do the same.

    Fortunately we live in a time when Republicans have learned from his leadership and abandoned all their old ways of thinking, which they used to call principles.

    Mick Mulvaney counts the coins that are left in Trump’s budget office and he used to be worried about things like debt. But that was in the olden times, when he was trying to get confirmed for this current job, one year ago.

    “Our gross national debt has increased to almost $20tn. That number is so large as to defy description,” he told senators. “I believe, as a matter of principle, that the debt is a problem that must be addressed sooner, rather than later.”

    Mulvaney is so old-fashioned he called Obama’s budget in 2011 “a joke” for adding to the national debt about the same amount as Trump’s tax cuts. “It’s hard to explain how detached from reality this is, to think that the country can spend another $1.6tn when it doesn’t have the means,” he told Politico.

    We all need to learn to love that old Trump magic. At the opening of his newest palace in Washington DC, just before his Russian friends helped him move into the White House, Trump used his wizarding powers of prediction to tell us what today would look like. You knew it would look great, right?

    “Today is a metaphor for what we can accomplish for this country,” he said about a hotel that would become watering hole for foreign countries looking to line his pockets. “My job is to look at undeveloped spaces and imagine what they could be,” he explained. “These are spaces that have no hope, no future … We have so many things we can do for our country.”

    And he was right. Nobody but Trump could have imagined that Republicans would vote for a trillion-dollar monster after so many years fighting a religious war against Obama for precisely the same thing.

    Nobody but Trump could have sold the idea of debt so well to the very people who said they hated it.

    This was truly an undeveloped space in American politics, and it took a visionary like Trump to make it real. Let’s hope they all live happily ever after.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s