This is What the President Means When He Says “Fake News”

Official Washington and the press corps are in the midst of yet another meltdown about President Trump.  The excuse this time is today’s 70+ minute rambling press conference in which the President announced a whopping five things that were genuine news:

1. National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was fired because he lied to Mike Pence, not for talking with the Russian Ambassador about sanctions before the inauguration.
2. Obamacare repeal/replace will be ready by early to mid-March, and tax reform will come after that, not before.
3. The President is not aware of any campaign staff talking to Russians during the campaign.
4. Alex Acosta will be the new Labor Secretary nominee.
5. New EO on the travel ban will be out next week and will be tailored to comply with the 9th Circuit ruling.

That’s the only actual news that was presented during this entire press conference.  The rest was the usual back and forth, hyperbole, and repetition of dubious statements that have become the President’s hallmark.  In that regard, there was nothing newsworthy or unique about it.  That is not, however, what you’ll likely see on the news right now, tonight, or tomorrow, nor is it what you’ll read in the papers.  Instead of pointing out what little actual news there is, you’ll hear hours and hours and read article after article on how surreal and non-conformist this press conference was.

That, however, is part of the reason why the President has been complaining about being treated unfairly by the media.  The media doesn’t simply report news and facts.  They also decide what context they want to present, and that is where bias and unfairness creep in.  There was a perfect example of that on display during the press conference itself.

At one point, the President made a statement in response to a question about the leaks regarding the on-going investigation in Russia’s attempts to influence the election.

Acosta was commenting around 3:04 about a question asked by Carl Cameron about the leaks, when the President said “[t]he leaks are real, yes. It’s the news about the leaks that is fake.”

Acosta seemed to think this didn’t make sense, and many critics of the President agree – it’s been roundly mocked on Twitter.  But if you stop and think about what he said and understand why he said it, this statement is illustrative of the President’s thinking about how the media presents stories, and it provides a good insight into why the President keeps harping on how he’s being treated by the media.

The President has a point.  How the press chooses to write their stories and do their reporting, and what they choose to report on can be considered unfair or fake if you view the role of the media as presenting important facts that the American people need to know in an objective way so they can understand what is happening in the world and react to it.  Not everybody thinks that’s the role of the media, but Trump does.  Essentially, he’s calling the media out on their spin.

A perfect example of that spin was yesterday’s blockbuster in The New York Times: “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” which was one of the most read and talked about stories of this week.

Sounds bad – sounds like Trump’s campaign was knowingly talking to Russian spies.  Makes it sound like they were working with them directly. Makes it sound like they were coordinating with the Russians on the campaign.  Sounds like maybe they were asking the Russians to help attack Hillary.  Maybe even these campaign officials were Russian agents feeding information to Russian intelligence officers and collaborating with them against their own country.  After all, it’s on the front page of the nation’s paper of record.  People shared the article on social media, and it’s likely many never clicked through to read the article.

The problem is that we don’t know if any of those things actually happened.  The likelihood is that they did not.  These are simply the kinds of logical inferences, allegations and speculation that have been bandied about by legions of reporters and TV talking heads over the last few weeks.

Even assuming a reader did click through to the actual story, the lede plays directly into those logical inferences, as it reads “[p]hone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.”

The article itself acknowledges that this doesn’t tell us whether the allegations of collusion can be substantiated, noting in the last sentence of the second paragraph and the third paragraph: “The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election. The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.”

No evidence of cooperation on the issue that most Americans who are concerned about this issue are concerned about – that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to hack the DNC and influence the outcome of the election.  Yet that information is buried three paragraphs in, after an inflammatory headline and it is qualified by the use of “so far” despite the fact that these officials had access to the transcripts of the intercepts of these communications, which is how they even knew the contacts were made in the first place.

All of this is part of an on-going investigation of the Russian hacking incidents, which the FBI is handling.  The article notes this as well: “All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.”

That’s right.  These current and former officials (former meaning they were likely Obama political appointees) were sharing their knowledge of a classified investigation with the press without permission.

Again.  As has been happening at an alarming rate in every Presidential administration I can remember.  That, however, isn’t the story that the Times chose to report on.

There are other issues with the article, too.  Namely, it’s skimpy on details and speaks entirely in generalities.  We don’t know who these officials are, other than they were unwilling to speak on the record because they shouldn’t have been speaking to the press at all.  Despite reaching out (or answering the phone), they wouldn’t discuss most of the salient details that might actually be useful in putting this story in context, as the article notes saying “[t]he officials would not disclose many details, including what was discussed on the calls, the identity of the Russian intelligence officials who participated, and how many of Mr. Trump’s advisers were talking to the Russians. It is also unclear whether the conversations had anything to do with Mr. Trump himself.”

We also don’t know who on the Trump campaign, other than Paul Manafort, who was removed months before the election last year and whose relationship with Ukraine and Russia has been well documented, was involved in these conversations.  The article never elaborates.  The President seemed to indicate that he was aware of one of the names in the press conference, but he also didn’t disclose who, other than to say the “staffer” was a low level person and the President had never talked to him and didn’t recall meeting him (which, to be fair, he says often even when there’s evidence that he has met and talked with the person in question).

The bottom line, though, is that this headline, the lede, and the way the entire piece was crafted and its having been run on A1 above the fold of the nation’s most well known, revered (or reviled, depending on your perspective) newspaper was designed to feed into the narrative that the Trump campaign was somehow involved in whatever shenanigans the Russians pulled during the campaign.

That’s not accurate and it’s not fair.

The article itself even discloses the reasons why that’s not accurate or fair, even if the explanations are so buried and qualified, most Americans will never notice them.  In the end, despite the massive attention this story has gotten, what is actually “new” information is so limited and vague as to be almost valueless.  Yet you can be sure that it feeds this continuing unnecessary and pointless narrative about the President and Russia, and tomorrow and the next day dozens of reporters and commentators will spill barrels of electronic ink talking about it.

Thus, when the President says “the leaks are real, the news about the leaks is fake” that’s basically true – some current and former intelligence officials did leak one bit of news about an on-going investigation in an apparent violation of the law.  The story written about that information, though, makes the actual revelation appear more important and more damning than it actually is, and that makes many people, me included, cynical about why they wrote the article the way they did.  This piece could have easily been run under a headline of “Intelligence Officials See No Evidence of Trump Collusion with Russians During Campaign,”  without changing a comma in the text.  Yet they chose not to go that route, opting for the more incendiary headline that feeds into the already existing firestorm about Trump and Russia.

This is what the President means when he says fake news – when the mainstream media spins stories and editors write headlines to grab clicks and sell papers with little regard for what the actual story is, what the truth is, and what the impact will be.  Then they huff and puff when he has the audacity to criticize them, claiming he’s trying to undermine public faith in the First Amendment.

He isn’t doing that.  They are.  Every time they go for the cheap shot to sell papers and advertising instead of being fair.

This, frankly, is exactly why polling indicates fewer people trust the media than trust the President – and that’s not fake news.

  • Stephen Spiker

    This is a very disappointing and apologist take.

    • I’m trying to be fair. You should try it sometime.

      • Stephen Spiker

        Being fair, in this case, means giving a benefit of the doubt that has thoroughly not been earned.

        • It’s not even giving the benefit of the doubt – it’s simply acknowledging that the story that the Times wrote should never have been written and that even though it was, it was written in such a way as to maximize the outrage despite little actual new information being conveyed.

      • Mike Dobozy

        Even if one’s trying to be fair – and I’m sympathetic to some of your argument here – the man is thin-skinned, petulant, and a bully, and all of those character flaws were on display at length today. It’s human nature to react poorly to those flaws, and most people use those reactions as social cues to moderate their behavior. If he’d like to be treated with class, he should try acting like he actually has some.

        • I don’t expect a 70 year old man who is set in his ways to change his behavior. All I can do is change how I react to it.

          • Turtles Run

            My natural reaction to someone that uses immigrants as scapegoats for lost jobs and crime and demonizes Muslims is to be shocked and outraged and to demand a stop to such comments and action. How exactly should I change my reaction?

            He isn’t just some crazy tio ranting about disrespectful kids, he is a person sitting in the most powerful office in the world. We should expect some sense of professionalism out him. He has met with world leaders and business people over the past few decades and I refuse to believe he was this bombastic with them.. He acted more Presidential on the Comedy Central roast of him.

            Matt Suarez

  • Stephen Spiker

    1) the term “fake news” came about to describe actual fake news — stories invented wholesale, with no relationship to current events, meant solely to be shared and earn clicks and ad revenue. “The Pope endorses Trump” is an example of this. Calling CNN or the NY Times “fake news” is obviously ridiculous.

    2) Trump isn’t offering some sophisticated analysis of the media when he says “fake news”. He’s not using the term in a consistent or substantive way; he’s just using it to mean anything that doesn’t reflect positively on him. Saying “Trump has a point when he calls out fake news” is absurd, because it implies a level of thought the President simply doesn’t engage in.

    3) You dislike spin, and think context is less important than substance. Good for you. That’s one way to consume the news. You also work inside the government; you are unusually plugged in. Others prefer hearing the context. Dismissing it as unimportant is solely your opinion. You may not care one iota that Trump has twice refused to address rising acts of anti-Semitism and responded both times about bragging about his election. Others probably do care.

    4) You spend most of the time dissecting one particular story, the NY Times reporting on the Trump campaign’s Russian ties. I agree with you the story, without context, is thin. In the context its reported within, it takes on more meaning. The fact that a campaign for President had any connection to Russian intelligence officers, in and of itself, is abnormal. The fact that this was explicitly denied makes this an important revelation.

    The last point there, I think, speaks to the heart of the issue. You seem to desperately yearn for a normalized relationship between the President, the public, and the media. But This. Is. Not. Normal. It’s not even close to normal, and no one should accept it as normal.

    We can still go about our days. You can still do your job, as if nothing else has changed. Most people’s day-to-day hasn’t changed because of the sheer abnormality of the current Administration. But giving cover to a President’s tantrum, as if its he’s offering a normal critique to the media, is disappointing. And lambasting the media for doing their job of providing context and putting pieces together against a starkly anti-transparent and abnormal administration is wrong.

    • 1) That’s a fair point, but calling CNN or the NYT fake news is his way of spinning – he’s simply doing to them what they’re doing to him. Turnabout is fair play, after all.

      2) I don’t think that’s how he means it, and he said today that he accepts some coverage will be good coverage even if it’s negative about him.

      3) The problem with the context is that it’s not all the context, and it’s not always fair context. Once you get beyond reporting the news into explaining why it’s newsworthy, that’s where the lines start getting blurred and problems arise.

      4) There are plenty of other stories I could have looked at. This was the most recent one that I read that I thought wasn’t fair.

      It’s not that I desperately yearn for a normalized relationship between the press and the President. It’s that I’ve accepted that this is the new normal – it may not be what we’re used to, but it’s how things have been going for a while now and it no longer makes me raise my eyebrows or pull my jaw up off the floor.

      I didn’t think this was a tantrum – it was his standard anti-press polemic. It wasn’t anything we’ve not seen dozens of times before.

      The media has to accept that they are part of the problem here.

      • Mike Dobozy

        Respectfully, if the fact that he “accepts some coverage will be good coverage even if it’s negative about him” is seen as a positive development, then the standards are so low that “positive” has no meaning.

        • I didn’t characterize it one way or the other. I just repeated what he said in the conference.

      • Stephen Spiker

        Of course he means “fake news” as anything he disagrees with. What, possibly, can you point to from Trump directly that can pass for a sophisticated critique of the media (like what you produce)? He uses the phrase a lot; its become his go-to insult, like “loser”.

        His standard anti-press polemic IS a tantrum. And it’s all absurd. When you say “be fair” and “he has a point”, it’s the exact same as if he called someone a loser, and you asking us to “be fair” and evaluate maybe that person is a loser.

        I’ve accepted, like you, that this is how he has always been and how he will be. That still doesn’t make it normal, and we shouldn’t treat it as normal.

        • This isn’t how he talks.

          We are conditioned to listen to politicians and read between the lines because that’s what we do. Especially guys like you and me who do this stuff for a living and are hyper consumers of news.

          Trump isn’t a politician. He doesn’t talk like a politician. He talks like my father-in-law. It has taken me two years to accept this and understand it, but I do now, so I am not going to judge him by the standard of an articulate, well trained and experienced politician because he isn’t one.

          It’s like expecting my son to write Shakespeare at six years old and then complaining when he doesn’t.

          Trump talks like the average American, and he is speaking to the average American. They understand him. This is what they wanted – someone who would turn Washington norms on their head.

          To your point – just because he calls somebody a loser doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

          • Stephen Spiker

            It has nothing to do with being articulate. But the opposite of articulate and informed isn’t “average American”. Trump isn’t “plain-spoken”. I fully understand the “authentic” appeal — he doesn’t talk like a polished pro — but Trump talks like a salesman; most people don’t. Trump is also, personally, incredibly thin-skinned, defensive, and lacks the capacity for empathy or shame. Most people don’t.

            There’s a difference between “understanding Trump”, and people listening to one of his rants walking away thinking he said exactly what they wanted him to say. I’ll grant its a gift, but there’s no meaning there that I’m missing.

            And yes, some people are losers. But when he calls someone a loser, he doesn’t have a point. He’s just throwing a tantrum. So it would be absurd to write, “This is what the President means when he calls so-and-so a loser”. You are ascribing meaning to something inherently meaningless.

          • Rain

            Do you know any Trump supporters ?

            I do, and believe me, they “get” Trump. I am amazed at some of the crap Trump says, I think “This guy can not be serious with that B.S.”, but then I turn around and see one of his supporters and they’re on like the same damn wavelength. They believe he is being genuine. That doesn’t mean they don’t think he is full of it, or that they don’t think he’s flat out lying sometimes, but rather that they too just lie sometimes and seem to think that’s pretty normal behavior, they don’t seem to mind it. I’ve asked about it before, I’ve asked “Do you think he’s serious about that, that he’ll really do that ?”, and you get laughter back, a knee slap, a “Nah, but he’ll do something” or “It doesn’t matter if he does or not, he’s really pissing people off, its awesome”, or something like that. I can’t explain it better than that, they just don’t care when a reporter catches Trump in a blatant lie, they think its hysterically funny, and go on supporting him.

          • Stephen Spiker

            Yes, I know many Trump supporters.

            I know some who have had similar reactions to what you describe, who treat it mostly as a joke.

            I know some who, to the contrary, take most of the things he says to heart, specifically when it comes to blaming immigrants for crime and job losses, and considering Islam to be our enemy.

            I know some who believe in the opposite policies of what Trump presents, but have convinced themselves somehow that Trump is 100% on board with him. This includes folks on both sides — there’s the story of the worker who thinks Trump will be pro-union and raise the minimum wage, and of course fiscal hawks who somehow convinced themselves that Trump will do anything to lower the debt.

            And sadly, I know some who supported Trump because they believed him when he said he would restore all the manufacturing jobs and coal jobs that have been lost over the last 50 years, and are genuinely believing and counting on him following through on that.

          • Most people aren’t capable of going before a crowd of hostile people peppering them with questions and be able to answer them well. It takes a lot of skill and practice to be able to do that, especially in politics. The President hasn’t had the time to skill into that ability yet, so I am not going to judge him by the same standards I would have for a Barack Obama – someone who I consider to be one of the more eloquent speakers of my lifetime – or even a George W. Bush.

            That’s what I meant.

          • Stephen Spiker

            I’m not judging him by that skill, either. I’m not sure why you even brought it up.

            Throwing a tantrum about factual news he doesn’t like by calling it “fake news”, or calling people “losers”, typically doesn’t happen at a press conference but on Twitter or in released statements.

            Again, my point is that you headlined this post “this is what the President means when he says fake news” — no, it’s really not. When Trump says “fake news”, it’s “I don’t like it.” Trying to defend his tantrums as thoughtful or reasonable is disappointing, unnecessary, and apologist.

          • That’s not what he means by fake news. I explained what he means by it – articles that are written with a specific spin that leaves false impressions with the audience or are otherwise factually incorrect.

            I outlined specifically how the Times here took what is almost a non-story and blew it up into a massive scandal that people are screaming “Watergate” and “impeachment” over.

            That’s what he means by fake news – when the press creates something out of what’s almost nothing. The other examples of fake news, like the bust in the oval office story, are more obvious.

            It’s overly simplistic to say he calls fake news anything he doesn’t like.

          • Rain

            I agree with B.W.S. on this. Spiker, did you actually watch the news conference or did you just read what the press wrote about it ? Trump says, repeatedly, that he doesn’t mind if the press writes stories that are negative about him as long as they are true. He said he screws up sometimes, he said that he has a feeling when he’s done something wrong that is going to make a great story for the press, and even says that he would be a cheerleader for the press if they told it “straight”. That isn’t what he’s complaining about (he says), instead he’s complaining about stories that are intentional misrepresentations of reality, and I agree with him on this point, that definitely happens. I can’t count the number of stories I’ve read recently where I’m like “Did they even see the same press conference I watched ?”. It’s gotten so bad that I force myself to sit through watching the video of the press conferences myself because you can’t trust the MSM anymore to honestly distill it down into a short version for you, sometimes they even take video out of context to create a false narrative, you’re basically left with no other choice but watching the whole thing.

          • Stephen Spiker

            Yes, I watched the press conference in full. You may choose to take Trump at face value, no skepticism whatsoever, when he proclaims himself to be reasonable. I do not.

          • Rain

            I don’t think you have to take him at face value to see that the media writes distorted stories about him and about his administration. Not just that, the media writes distortions about random crap as click bait too, about all kinds of topics. Some of it is from “news” outlets that barely deserve to be referred to as news, comedy show hosts are an example, but a lot of it now comes out of people who should know better, who used to know better.

            Look, I’d LOVE to go and read a simple distillation of what yesterday’s press conference was about, what the feel was like, the high points, and not have to watch it myself, and to the Washington Post’s credit they put a transcript of the press conference out, but you just cannot find that from places that used to give it to you straight. Now it’s like reporters can’t simply report anymore, they are ALL commentators, all pundits, they seem to find it impossible to say “a dog ran across the road” without telling you how that affects humanity from their particular point of view. It just wasn’t always like that. it used to be a reporter could simply report what happened and leave it to their readers to interpret that event however they wanted to. I mean people can read “a dog ran across the road” and be like “Wow, stupid story”, or “hmm, wonder what it was after”, or “Dogs are great, wish I could have seen it” and that’s okay, they don’t have to be told that “And, like this fleeing dog, America just wants to be free of this President, because, let’s face it, we’d all love to run away at this point”. That isn’t news anymore.

          • Turtles Run

            and to the Washington Post’s credit they put a transcript of the press conference out, but you just cannot find that from places that used to give it to you straight.

            I found transcripts of the conference at CNBC, NPR, NYT, Esquire, and The Telegraph. I also watched the press conference at work yesterday. It was classic Trump, playing the victim and blaming others for his actions and his words.

            Trump took a question concerning growing anti-semitic actions around the nation from a reporter that went out of his way to state Trump is not an anti-semitic. Instead of answering the question Trump made the issue about himself and called the reporter unfair.

            That is not fake news, that is a sign of a person incapable of displaying the empathy for the constituents he is supposed to represent. The reporter wanted to know Trump’s reaction to these acts and in turn Trump called the man a liar. A man that went out of his way to not offend Trump and still Trump could not react in a reasonable manner

            The Trumpanzees may want to live by the mantra “If Trump says it, then it must be true” that is their business. I plan on treating him with scepticism till proven otherwise.

            Matt Suarez

          • Stephen Spiker

            No, that’s what *you* mean when you say fake news. Trump has labeled virtually every major news outlet “fake news”, and has used it to describe:

            — accurate poll results
            — accurate reports of what Neil Gorsuch said
            — accurate reports of his conversation with Australia
            — accurate reports of his call with China
            — accurate reports of companies recycling old job/investment announcements for credit
            — news not covering crowds (supporters and/or protesters) in Florida
            — reports about morale of WH staffers

            There’s no rhyme or reason, or attempt to counter spin or present a more proper or preferred context. It’s just lashing out.

            You’ve said you’ve accepted Trump for who is he and he’s not going to change — yet apparently you haven’t, because you haven’t accepted that sometimes Trump just wildly flails in the face of criticism.

            —– (Trump tweets below) ——

            Chris Cuomo, in his interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave “service” in Vietnam. FAKE NEWS!

            The failing @nytimes does major FAKE NEWS China story saying “Mr.Xi has not spoken to Mr. Trump since Nov.14.” We spoke at length yesterday!

            While on FAKE NEWS @CNN, Bernie Sanders was cut off for using the term fake news to describe the network. They said technical difficulties!

            Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!

            The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!

            FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and “sources,” is far more effective than the discredited Democrats – but they are fading fast!

            The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred. @MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great!

            ’16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won’

            I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!

            Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.

            After being forced to apologize for its bad and inaccurate coverage of me after winning the election, the FAKE NEWS @nytimes is still lost!

            Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!

            Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing @nytimes and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!

            The failing @nytimes has been wrong about me from the very beginning. Said I would lose the primaries, then the general election. FAKE NEWS!

            Congratulations to @FoxNews for being number one in inauguration ratings. They were many times higher than FAKE NEWS @CNN – public is smart!

            Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans – FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably…

            much worse – just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?

            to the U.S., but had nothing to do with TRUMP, is more FAKE NEWS. Ask top CEO’s of those companies for real facts. Came back because of me!

            Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans – FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably…

            .@CNN is in a total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!

            We had a great News Conference at Trump Tower today. A couple of FAKE NEWS organizations were there but the people truly get what’s going on

        • Leon Wilkeson

          Wait, who is “we”? The fact that you loathe him is well established. The imprecise way he states just about everything is cringeworthy. The fact he steps on his own message over and over like a rank amateur is maddening. But his approval numbers have gone UP.
          What does this tell you? You would just say “eerrrrybody’s a crazy raycisss and I’m smarter than those idiots.” Au contraire. His numbers have gone up because the left is so wildly out of touch with the common American that they think wearing masks, burning businesses, and beating people plays to the hoi polloi. Again, au contraire. These aren’t factory workers, carpenters, and farmers rioting or wearing vagina hats; these are virtually unemployable cynical cultural marxists bordering on nihilists. They represent none of the core values that the average hard working American holds dear.
          Your bizarrly blind defense of journalism is telling. It is ABSOLUTELY fake news to present editorials on the front page of the WAPO or NYT and present it as straightforward reporting. Running an unverified story without ever once asking for comment beforehand and crowning it with a sensationalist headlin used to be reserved for the National Enquirer. Now it’s de rigueur for the folks who used to be the bedrocks of solid professional journalism.
          So we get it: you pull out your back hair in a rae everytime you see him on TV. I get pissed at his clumsiness and borderline idiocy quite often as well. That doesn’t mean that any of us have to accept the morally bereft loony left as somehow “correct” or “better”, because they arent. By vitrue of being unabashed partisans, journalists have entered the fray.
          Finally, I think fake news is a silly term, but since you hate it so much, I may start using it more.

          • Stephen Spiker

            His approval rating is stuck around 40%.

          • Leon Wilkeson

            Not true. See, you’ve gone so far into the Margaret Sanger/George Soros/Louis Farrakhan camp, that you’ve gone full fake news and forced me to stand up for Donald Trump. Have you been a commie plant the whole time? You get so gosh damn indignant about everything he says that you get tunnel vision. Have you gotten your “I’m with her” tat yet? Get on it soon. If you need financing, I’ll chip in – scratch that – I’ll literally pay for it. Tell me the tattoo studio and I’ll send a check.

          • Stephen Spiker

            Here are the results of live-interviewer telephone polls (i.e., not Internet or robopolls):

            Gallup 38% – 56%
            FOX News 48% – 47%
            Pew 42% – 54%
            Quinnipiac 42% – 51%
            CBS News 40% – 48%
            CNN/ORC 44% – 53%

  • Rain

    It used to be that I would read a news aggregator and get news that way, but I’ve been considering changing the way I get news because the aggregator just isn’t working out anymore.

    When I look at a news site now, all I see is stuff I don’t care about, or simply think is garbage, and that is an exaggeration but not much of one. It has been getting worse over the years, and especially in the past few months, but it is to the point now I can’t even find news that I am interested in even by searching for it.

    As an example, an issue I am very interested in is the upcoming tax reform package. Like every other human being in this country I have a stake in that, and it’s literally coming up in a few months, people are already hard at work on it, but does anybody have a CLUE what is in it ? I imagine not, and the reason I say that is because you can’t believe how much effort I have had to go to just to find out anything about it. It isn’t that the information isn’t out there, it is, people are on some of the lesser known television shows talking about it, the problem is the MSM just does. not. care.

    The MSM would much rather play gotcha and do whatever they can to discredit the President, his supporters, basically anything other than report on real, actual news. As an observer it seems like they think reporting unbiased news that is anything short of an all out offensive against the current President is, in some small way, supporting him.

    And these news sites, wow. It used to be that I had to pick through the usual garbage like MSNBC, Vox, and the usual suspects to get to the news, but now they are all in it, now I click through and from top to bottom its just B.S. Even searching for news barely gets you anything worth reading, anything even approaching objectivity. I am NOT a Drudge reader, never have been, but I’m actually finding myself going to that website occasionally just to see if there is anything there worth reading.

    The MSM is out to get Trump, objectivity be damned. I’m not even a Trump supporter and I’m supporting the guy in political debates, how did that even happen ? It’s all because the reporting is so screwed up that a lot of the stuff Trump says starts to make sense, it starts to seem plausible. I mean I’m totally convinced that he really is being treated unfairly by the press.

    I can’t even look at the news sites anymore without rolling my eyes. You would have thought their echo chamber would have been broken after the results of the last election and how far in the tank they were for Clinton, but it’s like the only lesson they learned from that was that they weren’t biased enough, that they have to shift into another gear. These media folks don’t even know how out of touch they sound anymore, they think they’re on the side of angels and they look pathetic as hell.

    • Stephen Spiker

      There’s no information out there on what’s in the tax reform package, because there is no tax reform package yet. The GOP Caucus isn’t unified on their approach, and there’s been no guidance or consistency from the White House, which means no one wants to get out too far ahead with a plan, only to be undercut by an errant tweet or a Breitbart hatchet job.

      Also, electorally, GOP leaders would prefer tax reform occur closer to 2018 anyways to benefit from it for the midterms, so there’s no particular urgency on their part.

      This is all important to keep in mind — there has been very little in the way of hard news to report on, because nothing much of substance has happened. All of the controversies and scandals that you roll your eyes at the media for covering have been 100% self-inflicted by this White House.

      • Rain

        Well, thanks for attempting to interpret reality for me, but I have found information on the upcoming tax reform package, there’s a lot of information out there, the trick is finding it. You’re wrong about the White House’s media troubles being self-inflicted. I don’t mean Trump is making mistakes, he obviously is, but the MSM is VERY OBVIOUSLY biased as hell against him. If you can’t see that you’re either not perceiving reality, or you’re lying about it. The MSM wants this President to screw up, desperately, you can feel it in everything they are writing. They are promoting protesters in a way they NEVER promoted the TEA Party, they are finding flaws in every word coming out of the President’s supporters mouths, and they are doing everything they can to sway public opinion. Like I said, I’m no Trump supporter, but the MSM’s treatment of Trump is making me feel sympathetic.

        • Stephen Spiker

          Do you mind sharing what you found about the tax reform package? I wasn’t trying to interpret reality for you, just passing on what I’ve seen in news on it. I know its slotted behind Obamacare repeal (which is also facing similar challenges), so I’m surprised to learn there’s a solid proposal on the table.

          I think the MSM is biased against Trump in the sense that they report on and value reality and facts, and the Trump White House does not.

          • Most of it is the stuff that Trump has talked about – cutting the corporate tax rate, streamlining the brackets, etc. That info is out there. Whether that makes it into the final plan is a different question, because Congress will write what they want to after reconciliation is done.

            In very granular terms, you’re right, not much has been released to the public, at least from the Congressional side, because they haven’t written it yet. At least, that’s what I get told when I ask about it on the Hill.

    • There are lot of people who feel the same way.

  • old_redneck

    This is real news.

    Trump’s Virginia winery is seeking permission to import more foreign workers — for second time in a few months.

    Eric Trump’s Virginia winery is seeking permission for the second time in three months to hire foreign workers. The petition for foreign labor comes despite President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to put Americans back to work.

    According to a petition to the Department of Labor that was posted online on Thursday, the Trump Winery seeks to hire 23 workers for the following positions: “Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse.”

    Trump Vineyard Estates, LLC is looking to hire the workers under the federal H-2 visa program at a rate of $11.27 per hour. The H-2 visa program provides temporary work visas, allowing US employers to hire foreign laborers. This most recent petition is the second petition filed by the Trump Winery since Dec. 2, 2016, which sought to hire six foreign workers.

    According to the petition, the job description notes workers would have to work in weather with temperatures as low as 10 degrees while “on their feet in bent positions for long periods of time.”

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/trump-winery-begs-labor-dept-to-hire-more-foreign-workers-over-americans-for-second-time-in-3-months/

  • old_redneck

    More real news.

    Any of you Drifters own vacation property in West Virginia? If so, you’d best enjoy your last fly fishing trip, your last canoeing, your last camping trip, your last hike — because, thanks to Congressional Republicans, your streams and mountains are done for.

    Today Trump signed into law a fasted-tracked legislative disapproval of a Clean Water Act regulation called the Stream Protection Rule intended to limit harm to waterways and water quality from activities like inundating streams with rock and gravel debris from mountaintop removal mining.

    The Interior Department, which spent seven years crafting the rule, had said the regulation, which updates 33-year-old regulations, will protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests, primarily in Appalachia. It is meant to stop the practice of dumping mining waste in streams and valleys during mountaintop mining. They estimated compliance with the regulation would cost $81 million a year, or 0.1 percent or less of aggregate annual industry revenues, it said.

    Under the fast-track disapproval statute — the Congressional Review Act, designed to avoid debate and possible filibusters — this means that the Interior Department will be forbidden from adopting “substantially similar” regulations going forward.

    This is the first actually completed environmental rollback of this Administration; it won’t be the last, in what will be an all-out assault upon public health and environmental protections that have been a half-century in the making.

  • Chris

    This article is right out of the Chaffetz / Trump playbook. The leaks are the problem! No one here seemed to mind all the leaks when they were about Obama or Clinton.

    There’s another word for leakers – whistleblowers. The actual revelations are not that damning because they may just be the tip of the iceberg. We are owed a full independent nonpartisan investigation into how big the iceberg is and how deep the story goes.

    We’re clearly not going to get that without demanding it. Supposedly Flynn was fired for lying to Pence, but the timeline makes it look a lot like he was fired because the public found out he lied to Pence. Big league difference. We can thank the media for removing someone who was provably untrustworthy and may have been acting as a Russian agent. If neither the White House nor Congress will show the slightest inclination to take on issues like this, the press is our last, best line of defense – as clearly was contemplated by the Framers.

    I think the unusual circumstances grossly change the standards for when a story should or should not be written, and I think this column is dead wrong.

    • I wasn’t a fan of the leaks back then, either.

      These aren’t whistleblowers. They’re not pointing out wrong-doing or bad behavior. They’re leaking raw information and stuff that’s only been drafted, trying to gin up controversy.

  • Mathew Dillon II

    I had an interesting experience talking with a few people whole convinced in Michael Del Rosso’s idea that the Muslim Brotherhood was actively infiltrating our government. As if this group of evil masterminds have morphed into the new communists. I have a brother who went out for a beer in our small town, and when he admitted to an acquaintance that he voted for Trump, proceeded to be congratulated (unironically) in sticking up for his race and looking after his own.

    The larger truth might be nothing more than a narrative we recite to ourselves. Is America a melting pot made greater by each new addition, or a himraging ulcer of racial and sectarian strife ready to implode with violence? Are we a nation of immigrants, a city on a hill, an imperial oppressor, or the collective throw-aways of older nations made great by that separation from the crumbling old world? These are all grounded in some kind of truth. Which we accept and believe says a lot about us and not our country, but those beliefs do by their nature effect how we interpret the purpose and progress of our nation when attempting to chronical the news.

    When the press becomes apoplectic about the stream of consciousness briefings and open antagonism, they are discussing a larger truth about the conspiracy theory prone, mercurial, and mean spirited team leading our country. Hillary Clinton may have been just as awful and two faced as many mainstream Republicans claimed, but she wasn’t calling for Post Birth Abortions (as my grandparents told me they had read), not going for steamy sex fueled trips to depachery island (as another relative shared with me on FaceBook), nor advocating the enslavement of children for sex work at a pizzeria. This kind of agitprop was openly defended by Trump and his campaign, leading any thinking person to question what the people leading our nation are thinking and how can we trust their judgment?

    Trump’s National Security Advisor lied to his Vice President, which Mike Pence nor the public would have known if it wasn’t exposed by the media. His nominees to executive departments are deeply flawed, exemplified most recently by the withdraw of Mr. Puzder. The media examining their record and exposing their flaws was important, shining a spotlight on people who will excercise a great deal of control in the operations of our government. It allowed the public to lobby Congress both for and against the nominees in question with actual facts and not just innuendo or party taking points. Much of it may have been partisan, but I found myself changing my own mind on a few of the nominees thanks to that reporting.

    Our President’s attacks on the media may make you cheer right now, but if we took Nixon at his word we’d never have known how corrupted and paranoid he had become. If we took Bill Clinton at his word, we’d never have known how damaged his moral compass had become and how earnestly some party hacks would defend even the indefensible. The media exposed the lies and aired the dirty laundry of the powerful, because they abused the public trust. Trust is earned, can we be blamed if Trump has taken zero steps to earn that trust since his election. (I tried, right up until Trump claimed Virginia was one of the states that suffered from massive voter fraud!)

    Donald Trump says he’s the least racist, least anti-Semitic person ever. He claimed he would be the most presidential. He’ll win so much for us that we would get tired of winning. From what I saw over the last year, he campaigned on lies and generalities and prejudices. Just because his opponent had the gravitas of a cadaver, that doesn’t make his tactics excusable, and when you govern using those same tactics, it’s untenable.

    I love my country, I want to feel a part of its workings and have a voice in our policies and goals as a nation. Every president in my lifetime, once elected, attempted to reach out to those who voted against them. They attempted to govern from the center. Donald Trump doesn’t care, he just expects us all to shut up and get on board.

    There may come a day when people alive today will have to answer for where they stood on Donald Trump’s Presidency. History has taught us the peril of trusting demagogues, of appeasing dictators, and arming narcissists with unchecked power. Whatever Donald Trump is, he will not be unchecked, unrestrained, unopposed. For that public service, the news organizations of this country have my appreciation and support. Any public institution regardless of party or ideology would have that same support.

    I’m a child of the Reagan era, and I can tell you straight that I would love to see a fair minded and academic culling of federal power. Donald Trump will is not the free market, centrist, limit powers President I wanted. Given my own personal experiences seeing the outlandish and racist supporters he’s drawn up and the alt-right conspiracy media he revels in, I’m at the point of not understanding how any true Republican could support him.

    • MD Russ

      Very well said, Mathrew. I was a college student and then a young professional during the second half of Viet Nam and during the Nixon Administration and Watergate. For those who didn’t live through Watergate, let me tell you that Nixon came very close to getting away with the whole cover-up. The MSM was NOT pursuing the case at all until Deep Throat and the Washington Post blew the lid off.

      Over 20 years later as a senior military officer I had an opportunity to visit the Post with a small group of colleagues. The current Managing Editor told us an interesting story. At the time of the Watergate investigation and before the Congressional hearings began, the senior editors of the Post discouraged Woodward and Bernstein from pursuing the story. They viewed the entire episode as just political dirty tricks by low-level Republican operatives. They were greatly concerned that other major newspapers, such as the New York Times, were not covering it at all. As Woodward and Bernstein developed more leads through Deep Throat that indicated that Nixon himself was involved, the Post leadership became alarmed that they might be triggering a national crisis and wanted to kill the whole story. Then, the secret Oval Office tapes came to light, Congress got involved, and there was no turning back.

      Donald Trump fears the MSM because he can’t control it, not because he is treated badly by the media. He is a pathological liar and possibly psychotic. I am comforted that the media is out there asking the tough questions. The Michael Flynn Affair is hardly over and I am convinced that Trump knows much, much more than he is willing to admit. Have you noticed how his story keeps changing? First, Trump didn’t know that Flynn discussed the Obama sanctions with the Russian ambassador until Flynn apologized to VP Pence. Then, when the AAG memo came to light, he knew about it 17 days earlier. First, he didn’t approve of the sanctions discussions, but then he said that he wouldn’t have minded it. Yesterday, he stated that he did not instruct Flynn to discuss the sanctions, but that Flynn was doing his job as the NSA in doing so. When will it come out that Trump approved or instructed Flynn to discuss the sanctions? What else does Trump know about Russian meddling in the general election that he is hiding?

      Brian chooses to characterize this as a media “meltdown” and carefully catalogues what hasn’t been proven. I characterize this as the Fourth Estate shining a spotlight on the cockroaches. We don’t know what we don’t know and won’t until we get answers to all the tough questions.

  • Stephen Spiker

    Wow, Trump is back with another reasoned and thoughtful critique of that pinpoints negative context and spin, just like Brian said:

    Donald J. Trump ?@realDonaldTrump 13 minutes ago
    The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

  • H G

    The list of “fake news” stories are everywhere on every subject.
    The greatest fake news of the past two decades is man-made global warming, aka, “climate change”.
    The recent manipulated data is getting little if any play by the same media outlets that have hyped and championed climate change. The same media outlets who pull “context” out of their biased backsides.

    There is a battle between, not so much the left and right, but between the envious and the earners. Between those who demand the wealth and power which belong to every individual, and those who would retain their God-given rights.
    The prior lost and lost much in the last election. If Trump continues his success, they may have lost it for some time to come. If you thought they would go away quietly, you’re grossly mistaken. They will continue to scratch, claw and squeal as the wealth and power they’ve stolen is ripped from their grubby little hands.
    President Trump is on the front lines of this battle.

  • old_redneck

    Speaking of fake:

    Pres. Donald Trump admitted on Sunday that the terror attack he said happened in Sweden on Friday night was actually something he saw — but didn’t fully understand — on Fox News.

    In a tweet, the president said he’d gotten confused by something he saw on an episode of Tucker Carlson’s new Fox News show, writing, “My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was
    broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.”

    Let’s review what happened (according to Trump):
    1. Trump heard something on Fox.
    2. He really wasn’t certain what he heard.
    3. Still, he stood up in public, speaking as the President of the United
    States, and repeated what he heard on Fox that he was not certain of
    what he had heard.

    This is dangerous. What happens when (“when,” not “if”):
    1. We are in a standoff with China or Russia or, worse, North Korea.
    2. He hears something on Fox.
    3. He’s not certain what he heard.
    4. He takes military and diplomatic action based on what he didn’t hear clearly and what he doesn’t understand.
    5. BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This clown needs to go back to the circus before he causes some REAL trouble.

  • Chris

    “There’s no evidence whatsoever, to start with, that anybody is conspiring against Donald Trump to drive him from office or do anything else. News about criminal investigations routinely leak to the press. It is basically the norm. But beyond that, you can’t really have any serious discussion of this question without recognizing that while these are extraordinary and in most cases unacceptable remedies, we are in an extraordinary situation. A hostile foreign power used its intelligence services to commit statutory crimes in the United States with the aim and quite possibly the effect of changing the outcome of a national election. The beneficiary’s aides and advisors were in what appears to have been active and ongoing communication with agents of that foreign power when this campaign to manipulate our elections was going on. The President has numerous financial dealings with people in and around Russia: but most of the most basic information about his finances, financials dealings and more, he refuses to disclose. The beneficiary, the President, has routinely and consistently made floridly glowing comments about the leader of the hostile foreign power and in a few specific cases taken specific actions which shift US policy to assist his country. This is not a normal situation. Even what we know is all but incomprehensible and the issue is what we don’t know.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/dangerous-ground

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