Of all the words one can use to describe Donald Trump, “liar” is perhaps the most appropriate (apart from racist and sexist, obviously).
However, from now on, whenever the president-elect spews a false statement about someone or something, which he does quite often, The Wall Street Journal will not refer to it as a “lie” — instead, the publication will use vague terms such as “questionable” and “challengeable” to wrap Trump’s hypocrisy in a flimsy layer of doubt and uncertainty.
“I’d be careful about using the word, ‘lie,’” WSJ editor-in-chief Gerard Baker told Chuck Todd during his appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”
So, is Baker — who happens to be the editor of country’s second-biggest newspaper by circulation — under the impression that Trump does not lie with the deliberate intent to mislead?
It is the job of the press to highlight whenever a government official, particularly the one set to occupy the highest office in the nation, is being dishonest to the public. If the media does not call out a pathological liar for who he is, who else has the power or means to do that?
Moreover, to drive his point further, Baker cited the billionaire business mogul’s infamously inaccurate anecdote about thousands of New Jersey Muslims celebrating the 9/11 attacks. He said the publication would investigate the claim and report what it finds, noting the inflammatory claim was baseless.
“I think it’s then up to the reader to make up their own mind to say, ‘This is what Donald Trump says. This is what a reliable, trustworthy news organization reports,” the editor continued. “And you know what? I don’t think that’s true.’ I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied, I think you run the risk that you look like you are, like you’re not being objective.”
He also went on to suggest that people are treating Trump differently than other politicians.
“This is happening all the time now, people are looking at what Donald Trump’s saying, ‘This is false, it’s a false claim,’” Baker continued. “I think people are saying, ‘You know what, Hillary Clinton said a lot things that were false.’ I don’t remember the press being quite so concerned about saying she lied in headlines and stories like that.”
So, instead of making sure that the press doesn’t repeat the same mistakes and reporting on Trump’s lies, Baker would rather have his newspaper give credibility to the said lies by refusing to call them a “lie.”
It is not just ridiculous, it is disturbing.
There is a huge difference between something being “questionable” and or outright false, but The Wall Street Journal (or at least its chief editor) doesn’t seem too worried about it.
Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Reuters