Cable news producers know what happens when President Trump speaks to the media: He lies. Supporting documentation for that expectation has been piling up over his more than two years in office. The topic doesn’t matter — immigration, the Mueller investigation, health care, his family, security clearances, Russia. If he’s asked about it, he’ll lie about it.
In a Wednesday morning Q-and-A before heading off on a trip to Texas, Trump stopped before an assemblage of reporters to digress on the issues of the day. He talked about immigration policy, the economy, the Federal Reserve and other stuff. When asked about the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III , he switched into full “Hannity” mode, talking about the Trump “haters” conducting the “phony” probe. Had Trump stuck with just that sort of rhetoric, perhaps it would have marked progress of sorts. But no — he said more: “It was an illegal investigation,” he charged, saying it was “started illegally.”
So how did cable news handle this false and reckless attempt to undermine trust in government?
Fox News went with “Trump: It was an illegal investigation into me.” MSNBC opted for “Trump: Russia probe was an attempted coup.” But CNN chose “Trump again falsely calls Mueller probe ‘illegal’."
Not a bad showing by the chyron people at CNN.
There’s a step-back consideration here, though: All three major cable-news channels carried Trump’s impromptu presser moments after it unfolded. Why? Why not digest the session, take clips of the newsworthy moments, and then present a full-throated, fact-checked summary later in the morning? Or even in the noon hour?
There is no reason not to do that. Trump and his minions long ago forfeited the privilege of using the TV networks to present their deceptions to the American public without a journalistic filter. Time to wake up.