The past few weeks have shed light on the character of the Trump administration and what we can expect from the next four years. Numerous inconsistencies in statements by Trump staff members have many people wondering if there is misunderstanding of policy or if staffers are simply hard-pressed to defend the actions of our new commander in chief.
The administration’s main mouthpieces aren’t the only ones being criticized by the public. Many are calling on the media to decrease airtime for prominent figures in the administration, like Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Press Secretary Sean Spicer, both of whom were criticized last week for issuing contradictory statements or providing false information in interviews. Some argue that the on-screen time these officials are getting further disorients the public about new executive actions.
It is possible that the White House actually has a calculated strategy of creating confusion around its policies, to distract the media and keep the public from understanding the harmful potential of the legislation. Time spent focused on controversy reduces the time committed to deconstructing the issues. Another possibility is that the administration manipulates the truth to make its proposed policies more appealing.
Many are calling on the media to uphold the truth, which could mean refusing interviews or airtime, and increasing fact-checking. Several mainstream media sources that have already taken these steps.
This past Saturday, CNN declined Kellyanne Conway’s offer to appear on this week’s State of the Union show. The network’s decision might come from the recent controversy surrounding her appearance on MSNBC in which she defended President Trump’s travel ban by citing a fictitious “Bowling Green Massacre.” That fabrication came shortly after Conway was harshly criticized for coining “alternative facts” to defend Spicer’s false account of the crowd on Inauguration Day.
NPR recently published an article titled “Fact Checking This Week In The Trump Administration,” which points out 14 inconsistencies and falsities issued by Trump and various staff members with the past week.
The New York Times, one of the most revered national publications directly state in certain headline that Donald Trump lies to the public. Following his very first day as President, the Times published an article titled “Lies on Donald Trump’s First Day” and shortly after a piece called “A lie by Any Other Name.” The Washington Times went even further in encouraging the media to reject Trump’s lies in an article titled “Yes, Donald Trump ‘lies.’ A lot. And news organizations should say so.”
Already, it appears that major networks and newspapers are already taking it upon themselves to make sure the public is clear on pending policies, how the policies will be implemented, and the intended effects. Will other news outlets follow suit? If so, it will be interesting to see how Trump and his administration will respond to role of the media as lie detector.