The Associated Press Goes to War With Trump

As of January 20, the liberal press has a new mantra: no more mister nice guy! We’re going to call a lie a lie, damn it! That would have been a nice practice during the last eight years, but better late than never, I suppose.

The Associated Press manifests its new attitude–all-out war on the president–with today’s “news” story: “Trump bridge-building overshadowed by false voter fraud line.”

Even as President Donald Trump starts reaching out to lawmakers and business and union leaders to sell his policies, he’s still making false claims about election fraud.

That’s a bold lead sentence. It would be interesting to try to find an instance in the last eight years when the AP attributed “false claims,” without qualification, to Barack Obama.

During a bipartisan reception with lawmakers at the White House Monday evening, Trump claimed the reason he’d lost the popular vote to his Democratic rival was that 3 million to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally had voted. That’s according to a Democratic aide familiar with the exchange who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim.

The assertion appeared to be part of a developing pattern for Trump and his new administration in which falsehoods overshadow outreach efforts.

Extraordinarily harsh words. Note, however, that the AP takes at face value the report of a “Democratic aide…who spoke on condition of anonymity.” That is a very thin reed on which to base the assertion that Trump lied.

What about the AP’s flat assurance that “[t]here is no evidence to support Trump’s claim”? If Trump said that three million illegal immigrants voted in the election, the AP is simply wrong. There is evidence to support that claim. This study by professors from Old Dominion and James Mason Universities concluded that as many as 2.8 million illegals voted in the 2008 and 2010 elections, and the illegal immigrant population has continued to grow. The study also found that:

this [illegal] participation has been large enough to change meaningful election outcomes including Electoral College votes, and Congressional elections. Non-citizen votes likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.

The Associated Press is free to disagree with the conclusions reached by Professors Richman, Chattha and Earnest, and to offer its own estimates of the extent of illegal voting. But it hasn’t done so, and the AP’s claim that there is “no evidence” to support Trump’s claim is false. The AP also describes Trump’s assertion as “debunked,” with no reference to what evidence supposedly debunked it.

The AP goes on to accuse Trump’s of further lies:

The start of Trump’s first full week in office had begun as a reset after a tumultuous weekend dominated by his and his spokesman’s false statements about inauguration crowds and their vigorous complaints about media coverage of the celebrations.

Again, the Associated Press casually accuses both Trump and Sean Spicer of making “false statements” about the crowd at the inauguration. This flap duplicates a pattern that we saw repeatedly during the campaign. It starts with a lie about Trump by the press. Trump responds with what probably is an exaggeration, which the press hysterically denounces as a lie, without acknowledging its own role in the controversy.

Here, the press started the conflict by putting out a lowball estimate that only 250,000 attended Trump’s inauguration. The New York Times deceptively tried to further that narrative by circulating a photo of the crowd that was taken before the inauguration began, and before the crowd was fully assembled. That deception, which we wrote about here, was repeated by pretty much the entire press corps.

So what was Trump’s alleged falsehood?

“I made a speech. I looked out. The field was — it looked like a million, a million and a half people.”

The president went on to say that one network “said we drew 250,000 people. Now that’s not bad. But it’s a lie.” He then claimed that were 250,000 right by the stage and the “rest of the, you know, 20-block area, all the way back to the Washington Monument was packed.”

Trump didn’t say there were a million people there, he said it looked like a million when he looked out from the podium. And there were people extending back to the Washington Monument, although it probably wasn’t “packed” there. So Trump exaggerated, but there is only one flat-out falsehood in the picture: the original press report that only 250,000 people attended.

What was Sean Spicer’s alleged falsehood?

Spicer has taken heat for his main claim that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” while offering other inaccurate statements including that Trump’s was the first inauguration in which white floor coverings were used on the mall. White floor coverings were used during Obama’s second inauguration in 2013.

I assume the press isn’t going to try to create a credibility gap out of the white floor coverings. Spicer’s sin is saying that the largest ever international audience witnessed Trump’s inauguration. But whether that statement is true or not is unknown. While television ratings were higher for Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, online viewership around the world could indeed have been enough to make the Trump inauguration the most-watched.

Here, as we saw during the campaign, Trump can be accused of exaggeration. But the liberal press is far more guilty of outright falsity, and its accusations vastly overstate Trump’s purported sins.

It is hard to say how the all-out war on Trump by the Associated Press and other liberal outlets will end. But so far, Trump has done pretty well by running against the media.

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