When I wrote the book “Trumped-Up Charges!” in 2020, exposing as false ten of the most commonly repeated accusations against President Donald Trump, I knew there would be more to follow. But I never imagined the media would sink to such a new groundbreaking low.
I kid you not, this time they’re reporting that Trump supported hanging Mike Pence!
When the first clickbait headline hit my newsfeed, I decided to Google “Trump supports hanging Mike Pence” just to see the plethora of yellow journalism firsthand.
Ever the eager beaver to spread misinformation, CNN led the way with the headline, “Trump reacted with approval to ‘hang Mike Pence’ chants from rioters on January 6.”
Next up in my Google search was an article from Politico, with only the first eight words of the headline visible — “Trump expressed support for hanging Pence during Capitol” — the rest of the headline — “riot, Jan. 6 panel told” — accessible with an extra click.
That’s a nifty little trick by Politico and Google to feature the first part, which implies a statement of fact, and hide the second, which explains that this is a claim relayed to the Jan. 6 committee. At least Politico, unlike CNN, showed a smidgen of integrity by even including the explanatory clause.
Batting third, The Washington Post presented its headline somewhat more accurately: “Jan. 6 panel is told that Trump indicated support for hanging Pence during insurrection.”
But USA Today, which followed, one-upped Politico’s sleight of hand, with the link on Google reading, “Trump spoke approvingly of calls to hang Mike Pence on Jan. 6,” while the more appropriate headline, revealed upon an extra click, reads, “Jan. 6 committee was told that Trump spoke approvingly of calls to ‘Hang Mike Pence’: report.”
Is Google solely responsible for presenting the information so misleadingly, fully aware most people won’t bother to click the link for clarification, or is USA Today aware of it too and either approves of the chicanery or sits by idly and allows it to happen?
The breaking news — if you want to call it that — apparently originated in The New York Times, whose headline was the comparatively responsible “Trump Said to Have Reacted Approvingly to Jan. 6 Chants About Hanging Pence.” Nonetheless, the story itself is such a betrayal of sound journalism that it epitomizes why the Times long ago stopped deserving the title “newspaper of record.”
The article begins, “Shortly after hundreds of rioters at the Capitol started chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ on Jan. 6, 2021, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, left the dining room off the Oval Office, walked into his own office and told colleagues that President Donald J. Trump was complaining that the vice president was being whisked to safety.”
It is only later that we learn this “fact” was reported to the Times by two unnamed sources. These sources were presumably briefed on the Jan. 6 committee’s work and apparently told the Times that witnesses testifying before the committee said that Meadows said that “Trump had said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hanged.”
You know, like witnesses who testified to 2020 election fraud before investigative committees, whose claims these same media outlets dismissed in lockstep as “baseless.” Evidently, it’s OK to deem some unproven allegations credible and others not.
The article’s writers at least showed some modicum of professionalism by adding, “It is not clear what tone Mr. Trump was said to have used.”
Knowing Trump as we do, it shouldn’t surprise any of us if Trump said, privately and in jest, that maybe it’s not such a bad idea for Pence to be hanged, much like when friends or loved ones say to one another “I’m going to kill you!” without literally meaning it.
A more accurate headline, as the Times and its aforementioned copycats are well aware, would’ve been, “Sources Briefed by Jan. 6 Committee Say Witnesses Said Mark Meadows Said Trump Said Maybe Pence Should Be Hanged.”
Sure, that headline is too long, but more importantly, it’s not as juicy as one that purports that the then-sitting president of the United States supported, even encouraged, the hanging of the then-sitting vice president.
These outlets’ motive, beyond avarice, is that as much as they can’t stomach it, Trump continues to lead all Republican competitors for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination by wide margins, and if things remain the way they are, Republicans are more than likely to regain the White House.
What better way, then, to plant the seed for those susceptible but not yet infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome to be duped into believing that Trump actually approved of Pence’s execution by a lynch mob?
And yet these writers and editors will go back to work tomorrow morning as if they’ve done nothing wrong.
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