Accurate ‘Fake News’

■ Bob Franken / Columnist

Trump supporters, you’re right, and no, that’s not a play on words, as in, “You’re far to the right if you support Donald Trump, whether you admit it or not.” At best, you’ve accepted his message of hatefulness, so that makes you a hater, at least implicitly. Still that’s not what this is about. By “right” in this case, I mean you’re correct in your gripes about media objectivity. You and your leader can validly complain that we in the newsbiz are not mere stenographers who regurgitate the pros and cons of the bile he spews. Oftentimes, there are no pros to his cons.
When Trump goes on Twitter to viciously stomp on somebody or other — like the American citizens desperately trying to survive in Puerto Rico, who have the audacity to speak Spanish — or when he takes actions that sabotage health care delivery in the U.S. of A. simply to satisfy his passion to destroy anything with the “Obama” label, it is not our job to act like robots and merely recite whatever he’s done or said without putting it in a values context.
We have a professional responsibility when Trump threatens to pull federal assistance out of storm-ravaged Puerto Rico to continue covering the persistent misery that Hurricane Maria has left in her wake. That would be considered the backdrop for the president’s tweeting, but for the residents of the U.S. territory who are now trying to survive a hand-to-mouth existence without electric power or communications, to say nothing of food and water, it’s not a backdrop at all. It is very much in their foreground.
And when POTUS abuses his power by cutting off insurance-company subsidies for lower-income Americans who simply want access to health care, we are honor-bound to report that the action has the potential to drive premiums sky-high, pricing both poor and lower-middle-class individuals and families out of medical protection.
Ditto for his executive order that makes it easier for insurance hustlers to offer plans that offer borderline fraudulent coverage to those who are the suckers who would buy such policies. These plans are to health care coverage what Trump University was to education.
Not that we reporters make much of a difference. Those who believed Trump was their guy will not be persuaded otherwise. Those of us who accurately cover the substance and framework of any Trump developments, no matter how grotesque, are dismissed immediately by the president as purveyors of “fake news,” and vilified or even threatened by some of his supporters.
The president is never-endingly on his spiteful rampage, which includes belittling anybody he sees as an enemy. That’s literally in the case of retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who is 5 foot 7 and who has had the temerity to suggest that the White House had become a chaotic “adult day care center.” So, the president of the United States dismisses Corker as “Liddle Bob Corker,” ridiculing his stature but not understanding that Corker has tremendous stature and power in the Senate.
Yes, committed Trump supporters, we news-people are adversarial. For real. We should be. And we’re used to being hated, so you’ll just have to stand in line.

(c) 2017 Bob Franken

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