Imagine if Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson started the show every day with the proclamation that “the sun is green.” And every day you heard him espouse what is clearly a lie. At some point the conversation on the show would shift away from serious topics, would become detached from fact, and some listeners would begin to question whether or not the sun really is green. The show would end up spending much of its time talking about conjecture and ridiculous statements, trying to work its way back to some meaningful conversation.
This is what it’s like so far for journalists covering president-elect Donald Trump.
Trump has shown time and again that he has a platform to espouse falsehoods and misinformation. The news of the day is directed away from what’s really important and instead becomes an effort to dismantle the lies. But what is a newsroom to do when it’s a reporter’s job to bring the truth to light?
“My presumption at some point is that if [Trump is] going to keep repeating something that is false when [he has] perfectly accurate information at [his] disposal… we can’t be afraid to call it a lie,” says says Glenn Thrush, chief political correspondent for POLITICO and host of POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast. But Trush also warns that overuse of the word “lie” could have an adverse affect and turn people off.
Trush says there are many factors working against great coverage of the president elect.
“There has been… a 30 to 40 year war on mainstream media,” says Trush, ”and a lot of that is coming from [Republicans on] the right.”
Part of the reason for this warring is the rise of cable news outlets like Fox News that help split media into right- and left-leaning wings. Trush says online content also helps disseminate false, unedited information that makes it very difficult for consumers to sort out solid reporting from misinformation.
“Most of what people are reading is un-curated,” says Thrush. ”We need to reestablish our role in the media as validaters of what is fact, what is careful analysis, and what people should really being paying attention to.”
To hear more from Trush on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.