No one has ever accused me of being a fan of political journalism in general. In fact I went into the profession with the specific intent of trying to undo some of the damage that so many other political journalists were doing with their false equivalence, false narratives, and outright cowardice. But the media’s reaction to Donald Trump’s craven false claim about Barron Trump today has been so cowardly that it’s managed to stun even someone as jaded as me.
Trump started off the narrative by tweeting the following this morning: “Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!” Then Trump’s people simultaneously planted a story in Trump-friendly news site TMZ claiming that Barron thought Donald had actually been murdered when he saw a photo of Kathy Griffin holding an offensive but obviously-not-real decapitated Donald Trump head.
Simply put, that’s a lie. If you have children, or if you’ve worked with children, or if you’ve ever spent any time with children, you know that no eleven year old child sees an image like that and mistakes it for being real. Maybe a five year old. Maybe a seven year old. But the idea that Barron Trump thought Kathy Griffin had actually decapitated his father is absurd. And yet most political reporters at most media outlets today are just going along with it.
Why? They’re cowards. They’re afraid to call it a lie, even though everyone knows it’s obviously a lie, because they can’t outright prove it’s a lie. They’re afraid of being seen as biased against Donald Trump. They’re afraid they’ll be viewed as being on the wrong side of a story involving an eleven year old kid, even though in reality the kid is the victim of his father’s lie. And so they’re allowing the president to get away with blatantly lying about his eleven year old son for political gain. That kind of complicity by the media is every bit as offensive to me as what Kathy Griffin did to begin with.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report