Trump’s message of mistrust is sinking in, even in journalism’s new ‘golden age’

Trump’s message of mistrust is sinking in, even in journalism’s new ‘golden age’

The Washington Post
By Margaret Sullivan
Image courtesy of Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

In the year since Donald Trump was elected president, the national news media has congratulated itself on a new golden age of accountability journalism.

And it’s true in many ways. The scoops have been relentless, the digging intense, the results important.

But in another crucial way, the reality-based press has failed.

Too often, it has succumbed to the chaos of covering Trump, who lies and blusters and distracts at every turn.

Of course, given the differences among news organizations, generalizing is a fraught exercise. Nonetheless, each news cycle is an exhausting, confusing blast of conflicting claims, fact-checking, reactions and outrage.

How big was the Inauguration Day crowd? What contact did Michael Flynn have with Russians? Why was James B. Comey fired? Is Puerto Rico being ignored after the hurricane? Did Trump insult a Gold Star widow when he telephoned her?

Trump drives the news, all day and every day, a human fire hose of hyperbolic tweets, insults, oversimplification and bragging.

Keeping track of it is hard enough. Making sense of it almost impossible.

The president has been sowing those seeds of mistrust for many months, and cultivates them daily with extra-strength fertilizer.

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