ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news organization, presented a very important podcast on a “typology of truth.”
Using Trump’s claims that he won the popular vote because of voter fraud, journalists could say any of the following:
1. Trump claims he won the popular vote, saying 3 million people voted illegally.
2. Trump claimed, without evidence, that he won the popular vote due to voter irregularities.
3. Trump is continuing his blatant disregard for the norm for politicians to tell the truth and respect the institution of truth, this time attempting to undermine our faith in the electoral processes on which the country is founded.
The first can flip into: he said – he said, where one party is Trump, the other the never-to-be-trusted media, or perhaps the Democratic party. This completely misplaces the emphasis on Trump’s claims, making this too matter of fact, and ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
The second is better, by calling out an attempt to blatantly lie, but just barely. Still, it misses the really big issue.
Only the third gets to the hear of the matter: A systematic attempt to mislead, defy, break norms, and undermine the institutions we depend on.
When describing the events we are seeing all too often, journalists must call them what they are — #3: a reckless, dangerous act intended to create a new set of rules without any accountability to the truth.
So must we all.