(The difference is, HRC lies in conventional ways since she's a conventional 
politician. Trumpy has no such conventions and his sentiments are based on 
whatever he's feeling at any given minute.  Ergo, different techniques.  --rick)

Media Template for Responding to Trump’s Lies

September 18, 2016 10:30am by Barry Ritholtz


How should the media respond when a Presidential candidate is caught lying? I 
don’t mean the small political prevarications that all politicians engage in — 
I refer to the uniquely outsized bullshit that has been dominating this 
election cycle.

So far, the mainstream press has been doing a mostly terrible job. However, 
that may be changing. To wit: Presidential candidate Donald Trump held a news 
conference Friday morning, where he:

1) Promoted his commercial interests in a hotel;
2) Admitted Barack Obama was born in United States;
3) Blamed the birther movement on Hilary Clinton.

Like so much else this election season, the media has been flummoxed in 
responding to such Trumpian absurdities like these. While some news outlets 
have acquitted themselves well – the Washington Post’s deep dive into Trump’s 
fabrications of his charitable  stands out – most of his unprecedented stream 
of falsities, exaggerations and outright lies has twisted them into knots.

Until Friday.

For the first time, a major media outlet responded to the Trump modus operandi 
appropriately. The New York Times called out his prevarications with an 
intelligent parry and counter-thrust, responding to the candidate’s histrionic 
absurdities with proper journalistic clarity. On line late in the afternoon, 
they published the column Donald Trump Clung to ‘Birther’ Lie for Years, and 
Still Isn’t Apologetic, and in print the next day it was the above the fold 
front page headline for the Saturday paper.

Michael Barbaro’s blistering analysis of the Trump birther issue was one of the 
first to not dance around the truth. Rather than engage in the usual 
contortions to appear fair when responding to an outright lie, the writer 
placed Trump’s words into proper context. The result was a spectacularly 
accurate assessment of an historically important lie.

Perhaps even more important, the “paper of record” unwittingly created a 
template for other journalists wrestling with the unique challenges of covering 
Trump’s many fabrications. I have found such templates to be helpful in the 

Here is that template; journalists covering the campaign are encouraged to copy 
and paste this for future use ....

Template for Reporters Covering Donald Trump

Trump false statement

Identify history of prior false claims, by listing lies in Chronological order

2011: Tells a lie [insert description]

2012: Still a lie when it was repeated [insert description]

2014: Still lying [insert description]

2016: Amazingly, lying still [insert description]

Contextualize how Trump managed to never get called out on the lie; reference 
the social impact of these false statements, including overtones of racisms.

Point out facts that demonstrated to any rational person Trump’s statements 
were obvious lies prior to listed dates.

Reference Trump’s embrace of conspiracy, use flowery language to describe the 
toxicity of the lie. Mention how good minded associates of his are embarrassed 
by it.

Point out how he worked to “mainstream” a fringe falsehood.

Social media reference, where facts do not matters.

Explain how the lie was repeated on live television, unchallenged by 

Reference the various light weight shows where the lie was repeated, without 
serious challenges from light weight anchors.

Rhetorical questions about motivations: Media attention? Racism? Cynicism? 
Calculated political stunt?

Point out how his aides and advisors say he has moved on, even as he keeps 
repeating the lie.

Reference his skillful manipulation of television.

Describe the lie being replaced with an even more bizarre new deception.

Describe the narcissism involved.

Reference the lies with interesting turns of phrase: casual elasticity with the 
truth; exhausted an army of fact-checkers; insidious, calculated calumny

Repeat reference to underlying racism coursing through the lie.

Use an Obama quote to show Trumps lack of eloquence or statesmanship.

– End –


When you are confronted with a pathological liar running for public office, 
this is how media should respond. With context and history, with literary 
flourishes and honesty.

Journalists should save this template for future usage. Each and every bizarre 
falsehood that challenges the fabric of our democracy – be it about his income 
or his taxes, or about the charitable gifts he never was party to or the 
litigation he was, this is how the reporters covering the campaign should 



It's better to burn out than fade away.

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