Five days after the presidential inauguration in 2017 when the media was presented with claims of fake news and alternative facts, former GQ political commentator Keith Olbermann preached about the lunacy of the new occupier-in-chief.
The first three minutes of his web video are gold, including the following advice to every media outlet:
“Stop covering his speeches live. Use a delay. Employ a team of fact checkers. Play his rants. Each time he lies, stop the tape. State the facts. Resume the tape. Wait for the next lie. Stop the tape again. State the facts again. Do not participate in the Trump propaganda game.”
It’s 2020 and his speeches are still covered live.
Especially now during the coronavirus pandemic and a desire for a national dialogue on police reform and racial injustice, there’s an immediate need for the media to stop airing his pseudo-campaign rallies. Every time he speaks, he’s running for re-election. His words are laced with untruths and propaganda. Stop giving him unfiltered coverage.
“The media is not required to be complicit in Trump’s fearmongering,” wrote The Nation’s Elie Mystal in March. “The only reason it goes along is for ratings and clicks.”
Imagine if every press conference, regardless of location, has no reporters — or they make a pact to not ask questions. They can interrogate other officials but not the head golfer.
If the media must have staff to take notes and ask questions, then stop using political reporters. Instead, bring in healthcare reporters and crime reporters. Use their expertise to ask questions that Americans care about. Or, use a pool reporter to ask questions on behalf of all.
White House correspondents can be reassigned to interact with press secretaries and communications directors, and to interview agency heads and project managers. They should research hard-hitting investigative pieces. According to The Atlantic’s senior editor David Frum, White House reporters should get out of the building and find the truth from people who will tell it.
It’s not a bad idea. It’s not too late to start.