On Monday, President Donald Trump sent out a tweet regarding the press. Per tradition, he used the term “fake media,” and said that “every story is badly slanted.”
The Fake Media (not Real Media) has gotten even worse since the election. Every story is badly slanted. We have to hold them to the truth!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2017
President Trump isn’t entirely incorrect. In fact, much of the coverage of the president coming from outlets like CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post is indeed biased to some degree. However, there’s a problem when one sweepingly calls any negative media “fake” or “slanted.”
The American body politic should have a discerning eye. To be skeptical is a great thing. That said, Trump’s repeated tweets and speeches about “fake media” have created an adversarial environment in which his base – as well as other Republicans – have begun to believe that everything produced by CNN, The New York Times, and other notably biased outlets is false. Full stop.
This mindset is the antithesis of personal discernment. It isn’t skepticism, it’s denial. Not everything produced by CNN and The New York Times is false. Conversely, not everything President Trump says is true. For example:
Press bias isn’t a black and white issue. There will be times when the mainstream media – regardless of any biases – will cover a story truthfully. It’s important that in these cases, we don’t instinctively recoil from the mainstream press because the president and his most ardent supporters continue to repeat the mantra of “fake news.” Additionally, we cannot accept as gospel truth everything the president or his preferred media allies say.
We must analyze every angle in order to suss out the truth. This isn’t always easy, but it’s intellectually honest. Not every story is badly slanted. Not every reporter who works for mainstream media outlets is dishonest. Not everyone who defends Trump is right. Reality is often somewhere between the lines, and if we don’t do the work to find it, we will become as disingenuous as many in the mainstream press.