There is a great enabling happening in the United States, and it has been going on for years. Many of the nation’s largest media outlets are cleaning up Trump’s words to make him sound less incoherent and stupid.
Australian reporter Lenore Taylor discussed in The Guardian what those who cover Trump closely have witnessed for years.
Taylor had the misfortune of covering a recent Trump press conference, where the president incoherently rambled about concrete and his not built border wall:
As a political reporter for most of the last 30 years I have also endured many long and rambling political press conferences with Australian prime ministers and world leaders. But watching a full presidential Trump press conference while visiting the US this week I realised how much the reporting of Trump necessarily edits and parses his words, to force it into sequential paragraphs or impose meaning where it is difficult to detect.
I’ve read so many stories about his bluster and boasting and ill-founded attacks, I’ve listened to speeches and hours of analysis, and yet I was still taken back by just how disjointed and meandering the unedited president could sound. Here he was trying to land the message that he had delivered at least something towards one of his biggest campaign promises and sounding like a construction manager with some long-winded and badly improvised sales lines.
I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.
Unless he is chained to the teleprompter and using his bored indoor voice, Trump has never given off the cuff remarks where he sounds coherent and focused. Reporters are trained to organize information in an accessible way to their readers/viewers, but the editing of Trump’s comments that nearly all mainstream outlets engage in fits Trump’s stupidity and incoherence into the standard presidential news coverage format.
At PoliticusUSA, we print Trump’s comments unedited. We don’t edit Trump to make him sound organized or coherent. This leads to comments from readers about how the Trump quote makes no sense, and we respond, “that’s the point.” The country is dealing with an intellectually deficient president who makes no sense.
Trump isn’t the standard president, and his lack of intelligence and obvious inability to stay on track deserves to be covered as its own problem.
For the corporate media, Trump has been a boom period, just like his tax cuts have been a boom period for those at the very top. The New York Times and Washington Post enable Trump because he has saved their businesses and pushed them to new highs. It benefits them to normalize Trump, but it is a disservice to the country when this president as anything other than what he really is.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association