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Media Runs With Totally Misleading Narrative About Trump’s Lincoln Comparison


During a Fox News town hall at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, President Trump answered a question from a voter with a historical comparison. “I’m greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no president has ever seen. The closest would be that gentleman right up there,” he contended, pointing to the statue of Lincoln behind him. “They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse. You’re there, you see those press conferences, they come at me with questions that are disgraceful.”

In context, the quote “I believe I am treated worse” was very clearly in reference to the press. A handful of journalists did their job correctly, and posted accurate reports of Trump’s claim on Twitter.

It’s not that hard. Plenty of other journalists, however, stripped the quote out of its context, mocking and criticizing Trump for comparing himself to a president who was assassinated. This is an easy case study in the bad faith reporting that gives Trump legitimate reason to complain about the media’s intensely unfair coverage of him.

On its own, “They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse,” is, indeed, a laughable claim given Lincoln’s untimely death. But it’s completely different than what Trump said, which was very specifically that he believes the press treats him worse than the press treated Lincoln. To imply otherwise is to misinform the public. Apart from being false, it’s also just completely unnecessary.

As evidenced by the tweets collected below, a long list of media members misreported the information. If done unintentionally, it was sloppy. If done intentionally, it was dishonest. Either way, there’s no good explanation.

Twitter seems to help these bad reports snowball into full-blown narratives. One journalist sees a fellow journalist report something the wrong way, assumes that interpretation is correct, and runs with it on their own account. The process is a total waste of time.

But correcting the record is worth it because a) people were misinformed and b) media malpractice is a serious part of what’s wrong with our politics these days, despite the press’s insistence otherwise, so building that case with clear examples is necessary.

Trump’s media critics don’t need to distort his words to criticize him. It’s a waste of time, it only further discredits them, and it plays right into Trump’s hands.