Trump's 'fake news' claims aren't always wrong. Plus, the DOJ should investigate Tucker? Really?
By Gary Abernathy
The Hill gives Trump more fodder for ‘fake news’ claims
When Donald Trump was president, too many in the media became obsessed with responding to his claims of “fake news.” Rather than ignoring his accusations and letting the quality and honesty of their reporting speak for itself, they did exactly what he hoped — engaged in back-and-forth diatribes with him, and spent too much time whining about it.
But Trump wasn’t always wrong, and sometimes the media’s hatred of Trump led them to engage in terrible journalistic practices that only provided him with more fodder. It still happens, as The Hill demonstrated over the weekend.
After the former president attended a Republican National Committee retreat in New Orleans, a plane carrying Trump was forced to make an emergency landing. A few days later, Trump’s “Save America PAC” sent a fundraising email. Here’s how The Hill reported it: “Trump asks supporters to fund new plane after emergency landing.”
(The Hill) — Former President Donald Trump is asking his supporters to help fund his new “Trump Force One” private plane just days after a jet flying him to Mar-a-Lago made an emergency landing when one of its engines failed. Trump, through his Save America PAC, sent his supporters an email titled “Update Trump Force One,” in which he said that “my team is building a BRAND NEW Trump Force One.” He added that the construction of this plane has been under wraps and said, “I can’t wait to unveil it for everyone to see.”
The story above is taken from a local TV station in Kansas City that uses The Hill’s wire service. It is clearly attributed to “The Hill via Nexstar Media Wire.” I’m showing you that version because The Hill has since changed its own original version of the story. We’ll get to that.
I saw The Hill’s original version when it first moved, and I remember thinking, “This doesn’t sound right,” even for Trump. Sure enough, as I read the original story, the actual parts of the fundraising email that were quoted in no way indicated that campaign funds would be used to buy or build a new plane. The Hill reported that “the email included a GIF of a plane taking off with a poll giving donors ‘yes’ or ‘no’ options if they wanted to see his new plane.” That was accurate.
So you have to wonder why The Hill ran a headline saying, “Trump asks supporters to fund new plane after emergency landing” and a lead paragraph saying, “Former President Donald Trump is asking his supporters to help fund his new ‘Trump Force One’ private plane.” The most obvious answer is that the media continues its unfortunate habit of letting their disdain for Trump lead them into taking every opportunity to produce negative stories about him, even when the facts clearly — clearly — don’t fit their reporting.
Eventually, a spokesman, and then Trump himself, called The Hill to complain about it, leading to this follow-up story headlined “Trump: I am not using campaign funds for new plane.”
Former President Trump on Monday said he is not using any campaign funding to construct a new plane. In a phone interview, Trump took issue with an article by The Hill over the weekend that cited a fundraising email his political action committee recently sent out. “The story was incorrect,” Trump told The Hill. “I already have a plane, the same one I used on the 2016 campaign.”
The story then adds this: “Pressed on why the fundraising email that mentioned his plane asked for donations, Trump responded, ‘I don't know. I never saw the email [before it went out].’”
What? This line — “Pressed on why the fundraising email that mentioned his plane asked for donations…” — is a clear attempt by The Hill to cover itself, to try to justify the completely inaccurate headline of its original story. What’s wrong with a fundraising appeal both asking for donations while it “mentioned” the plane? The Hill’s original story did not say that Trump was raising money while “mentioning” the plane. It claimed Trump was raising money to “fund his new” plane. And it was dead wrong.
In fact, The Hill has “updated” its original story, which is why I had to link to a version of that story carried on a different news site. Now, The Hill’s original story is revised with the headline, “Trump issues fundraising email about 'Trump Force One' after emergency landing.” It now opens:
Former President Trump's campaign sent out a fundraising email titled "Update: Trump Force One" just days after a jet flying him to Mar-a-Lago made an emergency landing when one of its engines failed. Trump, through his Save America PAC, sent his supporters an email titled "Update: Trump Force One" in which he said that "my team is building a BRAND NEW Trump Force One." He added that the construction of this plane has been under wraps and said "I can't wait to unveil it for everyone to see."
The story now includes this sentence: “The fundraising email does not explicitly ask supporters for money to pay for the new plane.” No kidding. The story goes on to include some of the information contained in its separate follow-up story about Trump making a call to correct the record.
The Hill adds this note at the end: “This story was updated on March 13 at 4:18 p.m. to include a colon in the phrase ‘Update: Trump Force One,’ and to note that the email does not explicitly ask donors to contribute to the plane. This story was updated on March 14 at 6:16 p.m. to reflect a call Trump made to The Hill saying he would not use campaign funds to pay for his plane.”
Why not just say, “Hey we blew it. Our original story about Trump raising campaign money to fund a new plane was wrong.” Instead, they paint it in terms of Trump denying it, as though he is on the defensive about something negative he’s doing when, in fact, he’s trying to correct the record.
Those who defend the media no matter what when it comes to the negativity they reach for in covering Trump will say, well, at least the media corrects its mistakes when they make them. But that didn’t happen here. At most, The Hill “clarified” its reporting, as though it was close to being right in the first place. It wasn’t. The fundraising email, as The Hill later acknowledged, did not “explicitly” ask supporters for money to play for a new plane. It didn’t do so implicitly either. Not even close.
It’s disappointing. The Hill is usually much better than this. It’s one of my go-to places for news every day. How could this level of carelessness happen?
There’s plenty of negativity to be found in regard to Trump without making it up, mainly his actions after the 2020 election in refusing to accept the results and his part in contributing to the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
But it’s this kind of carelessness, driven by a hatred of Trump, that allows too many in the mainstream media to find any excuse to write negative stories about him, and that, in turn, gives Trump more fodder to claim “fake news” — and too often be right.
Calling on Carlson to be investigated is a chilling idea
Tucker Carlson has long been in danger of going the way of Glenn Beck, who was once the most talked-about personality on Fox News but ended up flaming out — at least when it comes to appearing on a major cable TV channel — by getting just a little too zealous in the tin foil hat realm. Beck started his own thing called The Blaze — fitting for someone who has flamed out, right? — which has a large niche following and apparently does well, although in 2017 it was reported that the company had to cut 30 percent of its staff. Either way, Beck doesn’t command the influence he once had nationally.
Carlson’s latest “everybody’s lying to us” diatribes have been in regard to Russia-Ukraine, and he’s found himself on the wrong side of that issue from the beginning of Russia’s buildup of troops along the Ukrainian border through the ongoing war itself.
That being said, Carlson is still entitled to his opinion, and just because that opinion varies from the majority’s is hardly a reason to suggest what was suggested on Monday by co-hosts on “The View.” Here’s a report from The Hill:
The co-hosts of ABC's "The View" on Monday slammed Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson for a number of comments he has made in recent weeks about Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggested the host be investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over them. "I think DOJ, in the same way that is setting up a task force to investigate [Russian] oligarchs, should look into people who are Russian propagandists and shilling for Putin," host Ana Navarro said. "If you are a foreign asset to a dictator it should be investigated." Several of the show's co-hosts expressed agreement as Navarro spoke. Navarro's assertion came amid a discussion about an article in Mother Jones this week outlining a reportedly leaked memo from the Kremlin that suggested it is "essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson," as part of its propaganda efforts during the invasion of Ukraine.
To be sure, when Russia starts using your comments as part of their own propaganda machine it’s a pretty good sign that you should re-examine what you’ve been saying. But anyone suggesting that expressing a different view of Putin and Russia from most people should be investigated by the Justice Department apparently doesn’t know or care about the history of McCarthyism in this country. It seems that if Navarro and others on “The View” had their way, Congress would convene hearings and drag in citizens to ask them, “Are you now or have you ever been a Russian asset?”
Here’s a follow-up tweet she did, apparently softening her a view a little, now just calling for people to register as foreign agents:
Navarro is one of those “Republicans” who are hired by liberal outlets and programs so they can claim to have Republicans working for them when, in fact, the analysts do little but trash their own party. Some conservative outlets do the same with people who are supposedly “Democrats” but are hardly representative of that party. Here’s an example of Navarro’s “Republicanism,” from 2020 when candidate Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his running mate:
She has made a name by saying outrageous things about once a week. More power to her. But calling on the Justice Department to investigate Tucker Carlson or anyone holding or sharing a view on Putin and Russia that doesn’t follow in lockstep with everyone else is hardly what the United States is all about. Hopefully.
Brady un-retires. Good. Play as long as you want.
Quarterback extraordinaire Tom Brady un-retired this week, and that’s fine. Some will say Brady should quit while he’s ahead, but I disagree. Athletes should play as long as they want. If I was a pro athlete and someone was willing to pay me even the minimum salary to sit at the end of the bench every game, I think I’d do it, even if I had once been great and even if I was richer than Midas. There will never be anything better in their lives than playing professional sports and being part of the team.
People say athletes hurt their legacies by going on too long, but I think that’s wrong. Did Michael Jordan hurt his legacy by coming back and playing a couple of years with the Washington Wizards? Did Shaquille O’Neal hurt his legacy by playing a couple of years too long? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Do we think less of Muhammad Ali because he fought a couple more fights than he should have? Does his embarrassing showing against Larry Holmes make us forget his brilliance in the epic Ali-Frazier fights or his knockout of George Foreman in 1974? No.
Good luck, Tom Brady, and welcome back. Play forever.
Talking Russia-Ukraine and new Florida laws on NewsHour
I was happy to again fill in for David Brooks on the PBS NewsHour last Friday, talking with host Judy Woodruff and analyst Jonathan Capehart about Russia’s war on Ukraine and the new bills passed in Florida, including the Parental Rights in Education bill, which has been given the negative moniker of “Don’t Say Gay.”
Zelensky addresses Congress. Here it is.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a compelling address to Congress Wednesday morning. In case you missed it, you can watch it at the link above.
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