One of the difficulties the mainstream press has faced in covering the Donald Trump campaign is that Trump is a ceaseless and aggressive liar. The traditional etiquette standards known as “objective journalism” discourage media outlets from pointing out that a politician’s message is contrary to known facts—to do so seems like taking sides, or, God forbid, expressing an opinion.
This has left Trump free to say whatever he pleases, regardless of reality, and to say the opposite as soon as it suits him. Mostly the media have then agonized afterwards about how a shameless con artist is bullshitting his way closer and closer to the White House.
Today, things may be changing. People have been getting excited about the CNN chyron above, which offered an instant, basic correction to one of Trump’s attempts to lie about his own positions. But CNN is not alone. In a story about yesterday’s Trump rally in Sacramento, the New York Times did this:
To endear himself to the West Coast voters, Mr. Trump trotted out his usual array of assaults, deriding the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, as a politician with “no natural talent.” He again falsely accused her of wanting to abolish the Second Amendment, and attacked her decision on intervening in Libya. Mr. Trump supported the intervention at the time.
There’s no laundering the fact-checking through an opposing campaign, not even a “critics say” or a “raises questions” to soften it. In the fourth paragraph of a straight campaign-trail report, the Times went ahead and called bullshit, twice. With a hyperlink on the second one, even. Trump’s dishonesty is officially a settled fact.