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Opinion This is how the media should confront Trump and his cronies

President Trump holds up an executive order during a news conference Saturday at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (Susan Walsh/AP)

I have made the case that far more journalists need to come armed to the teeth and ready to upset the president and his cronies with facts contradicting their exaggeration, spin and outright lies. It struck me that we should also recognize (weekly if I can find the examples!) when someone in the media gets it right. We had two fine examples over the weekend.

The first came from CBS’s Paula Reid, who challenged a lie President Trump has told about 150 times, namely that he signed the Veterans Choice Act. President Barack Obama did:

When confronted with his lie, Trump tried to move to another reporter. That failed. (Kudos to Reid for not letting Trump move on.) Cornered, Trump fled the scene. Frankly, if a reporter is not making Trump uneasy with evidence to debunk his blatant falsehoods, mischaracterizations and delusional stories, he or she is not doing the job properly. (I will note that by and large in the White House news conferences, it has been women who have rattled Trump: Yamiche Alcindor, Weijia Jiang, April Ryan and Abby Phillip. One need look no further for evidence that Trump cannot deal with non-docile women.)

On Sunday, another interview moment came on ABC’s “This Week,” when George Stephanopoulos confronted Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who initially claimed that Trump’s so-called executive actions extended the eviction moratorium:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Larry, in fact, the president doesn’t extend —
KUDLOW: — we make great success, but we had to take action.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In fact, the president doesn’t extend the federal eviction moratorium. I looked at the executive order; it doesn’t do that. It simply directs how to find a way to help people and identify federal funds. It doesn’t include extending the eviction moratorium.
KUDLOW: Well, look, it — that’s not entirely true. I mean, in there —
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it is true. I read — I just read —
KUDLOW: Secretary of health, if any determination is made that there’s a health threat of community spread due to evictions or forbearance due — coming on top of evictions, that they would take action. … So, it just says there’s going to be a review, I can tell you, George, the intent of that is that the review will prevent any evictions.
We've been fortunate so far. But this is a guardrail and it will work out beautifully.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. I understand that, you say that’s the intent. Just to clarify, because I’m reading Page 3 of it right here. It says such action may include encouraging and providing assistance to public housing authorities or affordable housing owners, landlords and recipients of federal grant funds in minimizing evictions and foreclosures.
It doesn’t talk about extending the moratorium.

The gap between what Trump said was in the executive memorandums and what really was in them was as wide as the gap between what they said and what is constitutionally possible.

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Trump’s payroll tax measure contains some similar flimflam: It does not obligate employers to withhold any less from workers’ paychecks; since employers eventually will have to pay the tax, many will do nothing. Stephanopoulos ably pointed this out: “Well, on the payroll tax, again, it’s not a tax cut, it’s a tax deferral. Sen. Schumer says that he’s talked to a lot of employers who say they simply won’t — will continue to withhold the money because they don’t want to be on the hook for it later on. It is also not going to do anything for people who are unemployed right now; it could only help those who actually have jobs.”

Yet another example of the administration’s dishonesty concerns the $400 unemployment insurance subsidy: Trump didn’t offer a $400 unemployment subsidy; he offered $300, with cash-strapped states required to foot the other $100. Understand that Trump and his cronies are misleading desperate people who have now lost the meager unemployment subsidy needed to put food on the table, clothe their kids and pay the rent.

Every interviewer who gets a crack at an administration official should push him to explain these discrepancies. Moreover, it is time to start cornering Trump and his flunkies with evidence to debunk some of their most common lies. For example, Trump’s secretary of state talked to the Russians about bounties on U.S. troops. Doesn’t this mean the intelligence was correct? If it is correct, why has Trump taken no action against Russia?

This is like an open-book exam. Reporters know the lies, and they have the goods. Now they need to hold the administration accountable, just as Reid and Stephanopoulos did this weekend.

Without federal intervention, experts warn of an unprecedented wave of evictions in the coming months, more devastating than the 2008 foreclosure crisis. (Video: The Washington Post)

Read more:

Dana Milbank: We are only beginning to suffer the consequences of Trump’s failures

Paul Waldman: Another impasse on the rescue package. Imagine if the president were a dealmaker.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump’s reality show for millionaires is a cruel trick

The Post’s View: Trump’s executive orders won’t cut it. Congress needs to make a deal.