My focus is very much on North Dakota news these days, what with our Legislature in session and all, so I haven’t been spending a lot of time reading past the headlines when it comes to national news stories.
Like many of you I got the impression from those headlines that President Donald Trump had once again said something blatantly untrue.
Specifically, he is supposed to have referenced a terror attack in Sweden which didn’t actually happen. This is what I got this morning when I did a Google News search for the story:
But what if, like some Sinbad movie you could swear you saw back in the 1990’s, it never actually happened?
Trump was supposed to have referenced a terror attack in Sweden during a rally down in Florida, but he didn’t say any such thing.
“You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden,” President Trump said. “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris.”
Here’s the video:
Not once does Trump say there was a terror attack in Sweden.
Now, to be fair, he does make a somewhat confusing reference to “last night,” but it turns out that was a reference to something he saw the night before on the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News.
Could Trump have worded this better? Sure. But does Trump’s awkward phrasing justify reports concluding that he said something he didn’t actually say?
Of course not.
We can have a debate about whether or not Sweden is having problems driven by immigrants and refugees. I am sure Swedes are having that debate, too. But Trump did not say there was a terror attack, and it is completely inaccurate to suggest he did.
This is the problem I am having with the press corps covering Donald Trump. It feels like we Americans are caught in a story with two unreliable narrators. On one hand we have Trump and his administration who we know perpetrate exaggerations and falsehoods with depressing regularity. On the other hand, we have the press corps covering the Trump administration which is far too often guilty of the same.
It worries me that Trump is demonizing the journalism industry to the extent that he is. His comments that journalists are the “enemy of the American people” were reprehensible. Inappropriate in the extreme.
But the press does not help themselves when they get big stories like this one wrong.