3 Things the Media Needs to do in the Era of Alternative Facts
It took less than 48 hours for America’s new #PredatorInChief to show his true colors. We didn’t really doubt this was coming. As Maya Angelou noted, when someone shows you who they are really are, believe them. Still it was fascinating to watch him unravel as he realized an entire gender across the world was protesting his arrival to power.
He did what narcissists do in these circumstances. He frantically tried to control the message and make it very clear that actually EVERYONE ELSE WAS LYING.
Which was amazing in its own way to watch. I mean there were photographs for God’s sake, proving he was utterly, 100 percent wrong about the crowd at his inauguration vs. the crowd at the D.C. Women’s March alone — and still he kept going. He held a press conference at the CIA, whose sole and obvious purpose was to attempt to denigrate the media for (in his delusional mind) misrepresenting the amazing yuge crowds at his inauguration. Not satisfied with the response he received from that moment (despite having bussed in a bunch of cronies to, cue the laugh track, applaud at his remarks), the #PredatorInChief put his mouthpieces out in front of microphones — press secretary Sean Spicer and Kelly Conway — later that day and the next to dispute the facts yet again.
It was during her diatribe on CBS News that Conway — another alternative universe inhabitant — came up with the phrase “alternative facts” as a way to describe lying. The baldfaced way in which this administration can look people right in the eye and state complete misinformation is mouth gaping in its sheer audacity. Did I really just hear that? I thought 1984 and doublespeak was fiction.
While it would be easy to toss up our hands and simply shake our heads, saying “Can you believe that guy?” to do so is to put at risk our entire democracy. And so as a lifelong journalist, I offer my two cents on what we the media need to do in this new era of disinformation.
- Don’t cover him. That’s right. Don’t jump at his every beck and call. You did that during the election and look how well that worked. He got millions and millions of dollars in FREE ADVERTISING for his absolutely bogus, absurd points of view. He had FOX News on speed-dial, and then the rest of the mainstream media reported on whatever absurdity he uttered on FOX and so a news cycle was born.
When he calls a press conference (assuming he is going to call them), you don’t actually have to cover it live. Instead, listen to what he says and then...
2. Fact check every fucking thing out of his mouth or the mouths of his cronies. Don’t report it until you have fact checked it and then make the headline about the fact that he or Spicer or Conway or any one of the horrifying nominees likely to join his Cabinet of Monstrosities just lied to the world. That’s the headline, people. That He LIED — AGAIN. REPEATEDLY. We need to call that out every single time it happens because otherwise it becomes “normal” and 1984 is going to be the new world order.
And, finally, this:
3. Support each other. If Spicer or the #PredatorInChief refuse to answer a question or put down a reporter as a way to deflect a tough question, then repeat the question when it’s your turn in the press pool. Don’t let it go. Don’t relent.
Don’t let him win.