Each night on cable news, two sides employ different justifications and often hypocrisies to sustain their arguments.
A Pew Research study released this week asked if Americans could recognize news as factual, information proved or disproved by objective evidence. That’s versus an opinion, which reflects the beliefs of the speaker.
Overall, members of each party were more likely to classify factual and opinion statements as factual when the statements appealed most to their political side.
That’s a problem — for the media and for truth.
Let’s agree that the First Amendment is remarkable — a bulwark of American freedoms and democracy. It is one of the 10 amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights. One of those freedoms — freedom of the press — is under attack. Ironically, by the man who has sworn to uphold it: President Trump.
His oath to protect the Constitution isn’t cheap theatrics; it’s the real deal.
Yet it’s challenged by his latest televised debacle: blaming Democratic policies for separating children from their parents at the border. As numerous officials have noted, the claim is false. The cruelty is a Trump policy — and it can end tomorrow. Neither Presidents Bush nor Obama employed such methods — and both deported millions.
The Trump administration has also forbidden journalists from inspecting the “tender age” facilities housing babies and toddlers.
Yesterday, CNN reported a bipartisan group of more than 70 former U.S. attorneys called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse the Trump administration's policy, deeming it “dangerous, expensive and inconsistent” with the values of the Justice Department.
If Sessions wants to enforce the law, he could start with the Emolument Clause or Ivanka and Jared’s ethically challenged $82 million windfall last year as First Children. As conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin noted: “Emoluments” is just an elegant word for corruption.”
So tweeting last week that “Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!” demeans him — and by extension, American Exceptionalism. (International agencies rank the U.S. behind most Western nations for press freedom.)
“So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea,” Trump added.
Let’s be clear: There is no “deal” with North Korea. Trump-Kim Jong-un signed a document that reiterates promises North Korea has made before — but extracted no new or concrete concession to denuclearization. There is no language that commits Kim to verifiable dismantling of his nuclear arsenal, which the U.S. wanted.
The only concession was on our side — to end joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which North Korea and China wanted.
For the historic record: North Korea signed agreements with Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. In 2005, the agreement signed between North Korea and the U.S. China, Japan, Russia and South Korea committed Pyongyang “to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs...”
And it was a bust.
As for critical TV coverage, the President has to develop a healthier ego and thicker skin.
It’s not “fake” simply because Trump can’t abide accountability. Political coverage is often negative because his behavior can be erratic and autocratic. Don’t blame NBC or CNN for reporting the news. According to our national intelligence agencies, Trump is casually trashing the Constitution, separation of powers, rule of law and our standing abroad. That should concern every American. Democrat or Republican: It is country before party.
New idea: If the Fourth Estate is truly a watchdog on government, TV should have a cable network called Liar. As a public service, the most outrageous public lies could be exposed nightly.
The ongoing political morass could be the Liar Network’s equivalent of Shark Week. Throw in Congress’ allergy to truth and it will run forever.