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Daily Archives: July 26th, 2019

Imagine twins born out of wedlock and separated at birth.MA

Andrew Feinberg, The Independent 2 hours 35 minutes ago

Dear Downing Street Press:
You woke up on Wednesday to find that Her Majesty’s Government was now led by a bombastic New York-born, straw-haired man from a wealthy family who, nevertheless, made his political bones as a self-styled populist and who is using close relatives as advisers. I know how you feel.
While Boris Johnson has been a prominent figure in British politics for quite some time, you might be wondering how – given his history of dismissing unflattering news stories as fabricated, attacking experts and civil servants when he doesn’t like the facts they’ve presented, and his often-casual relationship with the truth – should reporters cover the prime ministership of such a man?
I have some suggestions.
Who am I to offer you any advice? I’m no expert on British politics or how journalism is practised in the UK, but as a journalist who has spent the past two years and 185 days covering Donald Trump’s White House, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two from our successes and failures so far. For what it’s worth, here’s what I’d do if I were in your shoes:
Fact check every claim; call lies what they are
Like our current president, your new PM is very media savvy. Trump used to pretend to be his own publicist named John Barron when calling tabloid reporters to offer up some fresh gossip on himself. Back when he was a young journalist just starting out, Johnson actually improved on this by cutting out the middleman and fabricating quotes while serving as a correspondent for The Times. And from what I’ve read, he’s displayed the same lack of fidelity to the truth in his political career.
Unfortunately, this means you need to check out every single thing the man says, and if you find that he’s lied, you need to do two things:
First, you MUST call things what they are – lies are lies.
Once you’ve done that, you need to put the fact that he’s lied front and centre. No repeating the lie in a headline, as in “Johnson Says Moon is Made of Green Cheese.”
Instead, try “Johnson, Without Evidence, Says Moon Is Dairy-Based,” then provide the facts that support the truth.
If you simply amplify the lies, it legitimises them as “facts” coming from the head of your government.
Challenge every lie
It’s not enough to just stand up for the truth in headlines, you need to do it in real time.
Whether it’s during an interview or press conference, there is nothing disrespectful about reacting to a blatant falsehood with the phrase, “that is not true”, and correcting him.
If he repeats it, there’s also nothing wrong with pushing back again: “That’s not true, [insert facts], why do you keep lying about this?”
If you’re worried about angering him or losing your access to inside information, well, you’re in the wrong business.
Call things what they are
Like our own president, Johnson has a documented history of offensive and racist statements.
Don’t dance around it. Such comments are not “racially charged”, or “controversial”, they’re racist, plain and simple. Saying so is not a partisan act, it’s your job, because your job is to tell the truth and inform the public.
Objectivity is not balance
I know the UK has a long tradition of partisan newspapering, but the truth has nothing to do with partisanship. Facts are facts, words have meaning, and people can’t make informed decisions about their own government if they’re not being informed properly.
Many journalists on my side of the pond feel a need to constantly present “both sides” of an issue, because we’ve been bullied for decades into confusing objectivity and balance.
But sometimes there aren’t two sides to an issue. Sometimes there is only what is true and what is false, and you can’t be worried about what someone might call you if you point out the difference between the two, because the fact is, he’s going to attack you anyway.
So if you’re going to get attacked no matter what, you might as well make a point of doing things right.
One last thing – pace yourself. Johnson could be in office for a long time, or for not so long a time. But leaders who utter a constant stream of falsehoods can be exhausting to the folks tasked with covering them. This is by design.
Don’t let him wear you down. Get as much sleep as you can. Take care of yourself.


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