Trump the Least-Honest Candidate, Some SPJ Panelists Say

Donald Trump is perhaps the least-accurate current presidential candidate, some panelists said at a Society of Professional Journalists D.C. chapter panel last night. In particular, Erik Wemple, media critic and blogger at the Washington Post, sounded off about the Republican candidate who is leading in the polls among his party.

Trump is the worst when it comes to telling fibs, said Wemple; he can say that unequivocally because he’s a columnist, unlike the other panelists. “In terms of lies, there’s Trump, and then there’s everybody else,” said Wemple. He added that various political fact checking websites show the same. An analysis last month by PolitiFact Editor Angie Drobnic Holan in The New York Times says similar: see here.

Some other panelists indicated that they agreed. ThinkProgress Politics Reporter Alice Ollstein said that Trump distracts attention from his obfuscation by focusing on criticizing the media. “The media does get Trump’ed when reporters simply print what Trump or any candidate says and don’t do the fact checking, don’t give the context, don’t point out that it’s not true,” Ollstein said, referring to the panel’s title, “Are the Media Being Trump’ed?”

To be sure, all campaigns stretch the truth a bit, noted Politico Campaigns Editor Scott Bland. “Everyone is trying to, you know, just tilt their record just so, so it looks nice in the light.”

With panelists agreeing that opinion polling may change many times before the primaries are over, journalists said they couldn’t call a clear winner yet.

When it comes to which candidates move markets, only Hillary Clinton does — at least so far, said Bloomberg First Word DC Team Leader Derek Wallbank. He cited when Clinton said on Sept. 21 on Twitter that prescription drug price gouging must end, and biotech stocks swooned in minutes. “That’s $15 billion of market value erased that fast, because Hillary Clinton said something on Twitter,” said Wallbank. “When this narrows down, more people will demonstrate that ability” to prompt similar securities moves, he said of Republican presidential candidates.

At least among U.K. oddsmakers, Trump’s chances are looking good, with his chances of winning rising, according to Wallbank. But the U.S. media didn’t correctly predict Trump’s rise. All panelists agreed that no independent journalist made the correct call.

Wednesday night’s panel was held at the Fund for American Studies, and attended by about 25 students, journalists, lawyers, academics and others. Tweets from the event are at www.twitter.com/makejdm. Photos can be found on SPJ DC’s Facebook page.

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