Sunday, December 11, 2016


The lead story from tonight's All Things Considered on NPR was about Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. This otherwise good report was marred by an uncorrected Donald Trump lie:

HOST MICHEL MARTIN: This weekend we're following news of President-elect Donald Trump's emerging Cabinet and the CIA's claim that Russia interfered in U.S. elections in favor of Donald Trump. Seven Democratic U.S. senators signed a letter yesterday saying they want some of this new information declassified. Donald Trump, speaking to Fox News, says he does not believe it, and that Democrats are just trying to make excuses for their losses.

DONALD TRUMP: I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country and, frankly, I think they're putting it out, and it's ridiculous.
No challenge was offered to Trump's Big Lie claim that Democrats "suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country."

On my local station, this came immediately after the 5:00 P.M. news summary. I can't embed that, but it began:
JANINE HERBST, NPR: Republican senator John McCain is calling for a bipartisan investigation into allegations the Russians interfered with the U.S. presidential elections. McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he also wants to see the Senate create a special committee to investigate the allegations. That as President-elect Trump dismissed the CIA's conclusion that Russia tried to tip the election in his favor.

DONALD TRUMP: I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it. I don't know why, and I think it's just a, you know, they talked about all sorts of things, every week it's another excuse. We had a massive landslide victory.

HERBST: Trump speaking there on Fox News Sunday. He blames Democrats for putting that story out.
Why -- especially in a condensed news summary -- was it necessary to include the sentence "We had a massive landslide victory"? Why not edit it out and end the quote at "every week it's another excuse"? And if it had to be included, why didn't Herbst explain that Trump's assertion isn't even remotely accurate?

If you go to the NPR website, you can read a debunking of this claim under the headline "FACT CHECK: Trump Claims A 'Massive Landslide Victory' -- But History Differs."
Trump won 306 electoral votes to Clinton's 232. That comfortably puts him above the required 270 electoral votes. But it's hard to argue this represents a landslide of historic proportions, given that out of 58 presidential elections, the winner has received more electoral votes in 37 contests....

Clear landslides came most recently in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan won 489 electoral votes to Jimmy Carter's 49 in the 1980 election. Four years later, Reagan won 49 states, delivering him a 525 to 13 victory of Walter Mondale. In 1988, George H.W. Bush succeeded Reagan with a total of 426 electoral votes to Michael Dukakis's 111.

Each of those Reagan and Bush victories came with an 8 to 9 percent margin in the popular vote, as icing on the cake.

To be certain, Trump's win the Electoral College is what matters. But his loss in the popular vote to Hillary Clinton is itself historic. At 2.8 million votes, Trump's deficit is by far the largest for any candidate who won the Electoral College and lost the popular vote.
Fine - but this needs to be said on the air. Some version of this debunking needs to be appended to any Trump claim of a landslide or a sizable victory. Trump knows that repeating this helps make it a fact in millions of Americans' minds; the only available antidote is the truth.

NPR aired a shameless Trump lie and didn't challenge it on the air with the facts. That's a journalistic failure.


Unknown said...

Trump lies so much that the fact-checkers are overwhelmed.

Never Ben Better said...

NPR still needs that lovely lovely federal funding. Pledge drives only go so far.

Jimbo said...

NPR/PBS is the only remaining objective news source so they need to be reminded to step up their game. And they may respond. it's important to remember that none of the other network and cable news network are going to do honest reporting anymore. ven MSNBC has been compromised. Corporations rule.

Jim said...

In 1972, a clear landslide year, Nixon received 520 electoral votes to McGovern's 17 electoral votes. That is a mandate. That is a landslide. Comparatively speaking, Trump squeaked through the electoral college and lost the popular vote by 2,800,000 votes and counting.

CF2K said...

That thing where NPR gives Trump's lies a pass? It's a feature, not a bug.

Anonymous said...

this am NPR did respond with the truth. (that the Donny lied), but too little to late perhaps?

Luigi said...

NPR now takes a lot of money from the KOCH brothers. So, if you are expecting something resembling the truth from them, well, you are just whistling "Dixie".