EDITORIAL: No, Steve, we won't
Just shut up and listen.
Hear all those people?
The ones who saw pictures of President Donald Trump’s modestly attended swearing-in ceremony and imagined historic crowds of adoring fans — “the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period"?
The folks who said Trump’s Electoral College win wasn’t marred by a humiliating popular vote loss — by the largest margin in modern history for a winning candidate — because up to 5 million people committed voter fraud?
Or those who indignantly agreed Trump did not disparage the United States’ intelligence agencies, because, hey, he’s their No. 1 fan, despite what he said?
These are the people “the dishonest media” need to pay attention to, according to Stephen Bannon, Trump’s ruddy Svengali.
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Bannon said in a recent interview with the New York Times.
“I want you to quote this,” he added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
We think we have a pretty good idea, and it explains why Bannon considers us the opposition and why Trump himself declared a “running war” with journalists.
Fear-mongering and lies should never be underestimated.
The fact that so many Americans fell for it is embarrassing, and perhaps some in the media do deserve blame for not countering this charlatan more forcefully much earlier in the campaign.
Trump calls it a war; we see it as a battle between “alternative facts” and simple truth. Unfortunately, the media brought a knife to this gunfight.
How does one counter fantastic claims, repeated over and over, that prey on people’s fears, insecurities and, frankly, prejudices?
By simply pointing out the lies? Providing evidence that proves them false?
That hasn’t worked out so well.
Some people will believe what they want, or perhaps need, to believe, and facts be damned.
Photographic evidence? That can be manipulated. Tweets? What tweets? Audio and video of Trump saying and doing the things he denies? Now we’re just being dishonest.
The media absolutely should have done a better job trying to understand Trump supporters and taken a closer look at what appears to be their myriad grievances.
If nothing else, it would help explain why so many are so willing to ignore reality, and it might help us be better messengers.
But the message will never change.
Truth isn’t negotiable.
We’ll continue to do our jobs, hopefully even redouble our efforts.
But we will never shut up.