Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Cover "Lost Trump" and the Limo

There's a video of President Trump heading off his plane to his limo, and just wandering off down the runway, until someone turns him around to head back to the car ... which was right in front of him.
How do we report on such incidents ethically? A few thoughts, as an opening salvo. It's tricky.

  1. We can, I think, reasonably ask what happened when the president didn't see his limo. We can describe what we see. We can report on assurances from spokespeople with skepticism, as we should report on all statements from all spokespeople in all contexts. 
  2. We can distinguish this observable behavior from the pathologizing of his disgusting behavior. He's been disgusting, in fairly consistent ways, since the 1970s. His use of twitter is consistent with his whole life. My biggest objection to the pathologizing Trump stuff is when people see him behave in a foul way (i.e. constantly) and then characterize it as a mental disability. 
  3. We can remember that Twitter RTs will not lead to the 25th Amendment being invoked. 
  4. But your friends who have psychological disabilities do hear you link Trump's behavior to your presumption of psychological disabilities. So be thoughtful, please.
Lesley Stahl has talked about her anguish about whether to report on Reagan's "tuning out" and a moment in which he forgot he wasn't still a Hollywood actor. These incidents with Trump, should, likewise, be reported.

#4 is where my concerns lie. How do we report reportable things without hurting the vulnerable? I don't pretend it's easy.

[From last August: My response to the question, "What if Trump really is crazy?"]



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