Matt Schlapp, President of the American Conservative Union, opined on CNN Monday morning about the role of the media in the wake of the White House Correspondence Dinner. He complained about Michelle Wolf, the dinner’s requisite comedy act, taking umbrage at Wolf’s joke about Sarah Huckabee Sanders smokey eye make up. He also was offended by the fact that Wolf saying that Sanders, White House Press Secretary, lies.
“Just present the facts and let the American people decide if they think someone’s lying. Journalists shouldn’t be the one to say the president or his spokesperson is lying.”
He later doubled down on that stance on Twitter:
I stand by that statement. Lying implies motive. Just cover the facts no matter how ugly and let the voters decide motives and intent. https://t.co/69lUe4KXxR
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) April 30, 2018
Speaking of the press…
It has been more than a year, 439 days, since President Trump has held a solo press conference, instead opting to answer shouted questions from reporters in the media pool at events. The President can opt to answer questions he likes, decline follow ups, and ignore some questions altogether rather than be subjected to a rigorous press conference on national TV.
Notably, it was recently reported by BuzzFeed that the Department of Justice removed an entire subsection of its policy manual labeled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial”.
On Saturday night, at his Michigan rally, Trump said, “We have to be very careful with the press because they do the same damn thing”, referring to his previous comment about Admiral Ronny Jackson being an innocent person being destroyed by innuendo.
Now, Matt Schlapp is saying that the media shouldn’t point out when the President or his spokespeople are lying.
In this age of Fake News, Americans are being increasingly isolated into our political Tribes and insulated from any news that bursts our partisan bubbles. If we don’t want the press to call out politicians as liars, what do we want them to do, other than simply confirm our biases? What is the role of the media if not to point out the facts and call out liars?
The idea that the media shouldn’t call out lies when they are patently obvious is dangerous. A free press is one of the cornerstones of our Republic and, while the free press we currently have isn’t exactly healthy and thriving, preventing it from doing one of its basic and essential duties is undermining a basic tenant of our founding.
I wonder if Matt would have a problem with Fox News calling out Obama’s lies? Or the lies of the next Democratic President? Or is it just the lies of the Republican President and the White House Press Secretary that he doesn’t want pointed out.
For tribal Republicans, the real problem with Wolf’s comments regarding Sanders is not the “smokey eye” bit… it is the punch line:
She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.
It’s not the perfect smokey eye. It’s that Wolf acknowledges that Sanders steps out daily to lie on behalf of the President who is the nation’s top purveyor of Fake News. That a Press Secretary fudges the truth on behalf of her boss is not unusual. What is unusual is that it is now, apparently, off limits to point out when she does.