WSJ’s Baker: I have not banned “lie” when covering Trump
Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker expands on comments he made Sunday on “Meet the Press” about using the word “lie” when referring to false statements made by president-elect Donald Trump.
Baker writes, “Note that I said I’d be ‘careful’ in using the word ‘lie.’ I didn’t ban the word from the Journal’s lexicon. Evidently, this carefulness is widely shared in the newsrooms of America. While some of the fresher news organizations have routinely called out Mr. Trump as a liar in their reporting, as far as I can tell, traditional newsrooms—print, digital, television—have used the term sparingly. Given the number of times Mr. Trump seems to have uttered falsehoods, that looks like prima facie evidence of a widespread reluctance to label him a liar.
“Why the reluctance? For my part, it’s not because I don’t believe that Mr. Trump has said things that are untrue. Nor is it because I believe that when he says things that are untrue we should refrain from pointing it out. This is exactly what the Journal has done.
“Mr. Trump has a record of saying things that are, as far as the available evidence tells us, untruthful: thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 on the rooftops of New Jersey, millions of votes cast illegally in the presidential election, President Obama’s supposed foreign birth. We can also point out that the circumstances are such that it’s reasonable to infer that Mr. Trump should know that these statements are untrue.
“The issue is not whether we reporters should test what he, or anyone, says against the known and established facts and offer a fair assessment of its veracity. We do that all the time. We have a duty to our readers to ascertain whether the people we report on are telling the truth. The question is how we present our reporting.”
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