There’s a straightforward case to be made for media outlets broadcasting a Donald Trump speech as it proceeds. That’s the way TV networks have traditionally done things; people deserve an unfiltered look at their presidential candidates; any distortions or lies or misrepresentations made by the candidate can be corrected by journalists after the event.
That model finds itself in crisis, thanks to Trump’s voracity for mendacity. Wednesday he gave a speech in New York City attacking Hillary Clinton for a range of shortcomings. He talked about her integrity (“Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and even theft.”), about her tenure as secretary of state (“Her decisions spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched.”), about many other topics (“I only want to admit people who share our values and love our people.”)
Want to know how much of the speech was pure nonsense? Just alight on this fact-check by the Associated Press. “Donald Trump’s fierce denunciation of Hillary Clinton on Wednesday was rife with distortion,” reads the first line of the fact-check. Among the statements that the AP faults are ones that tagged Clinton for: a misguided Iraq withdrawal date announcement (not “on her watch”) and a misguided invasion of Libya (there was no invasion); launching Iran into Middle Eastern hegemony (such arguments came before Clinton’s term as secretary of state); denying “all” requests for security upgrades for the U.S. diplomatic installation in Benghazi (not all were denied); wanting to spend “hundreds of billions” to resettle Middle Eastern refugees in the United States (“baffling,” concludes the AP); accepting “$58,000 in jewelry from the government of Brunei when she was secretary of state” (gift went to the U.S. government); letting the U.S. trade deficit with China to go up by 40 percent (that’s “more than double the actual increase”); a plan to “admit hundreds of thousands of refugees from the most dangerous countries on Earth, with no way to screen who they are, what they are, what they believe, where they come from” (actually, Clinton has advocated extensive screening); creating open borders in the United States (not). He also said that the U.S. was “the highest-taxed nation in the world” (“Closer to the opposite is true.”); that Obamacare is killing jobs (job growth has been “solid” since Obamacare started); and that his tax plan would create “millions of new jobs and lower taxes for everyone” (not according to “most economists”).
With all his falsehoods and distortions, Trump siphoned off a whole platoon of journalistic talent that could have been doing other things (like investigating Trump University, for example). Here’s the tagline on the AP fact-check:
Associated Press writers Christopher S. Rugaber, Chad Day, Michael Biesecker, Eileen Sullivan, Alicia A. Caldwell, Jeff Horwitz, Nancy Benac, Matthew Lee, Jill Colvin and Cal Woodward contributed to this story.
Next time Trump approaches the podium, some enterprising — and perhaps grandstanding — broadcaster might consider airing only those parts that can be confirmed. It might be a short presentation.
*Correction: Original headline undercounted the number of staffers on this fact-check by two, because the version that we examined omitted the double byline of Bradley Klapper and Jim Drinkard. Apologies.