Trump and the media: Fighting fire with fire | The Knife Media

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(The Knife Media) We may have just witnessed another round of tit-for-tat in our media. President Donald Trump criticized media outlets after CNN, ABC News and a Washington Post reporter corrected erroneous information. News outlets then took to writing about it — some praised Trump and vilified the outlets, others disparaged him.


Would you be surprised to know all these approaches (the different media outlets’ and Trump’s) are similarly distorted? Here’s a mini analysis using two of the four sources we examined, as well as one of Trump’s tweets.



President Donald Trump on Saturday  took square aim at the media over erroneous reporting, capping a week of  back and forth between the president and one of his favorite punching bags.


  • Slant: Politico’s bias was that Trump’s actions towards the media are wrong, and it provided few alternate perspectives.

  • Spin (noted by underlining): Here, the language is sensational and dramatic, portraying Trump as violent and the media as his victim. Notice how it supports the slant.

  • Data: The only facts we can extract from this are that (1) media outlets have published erroneous information and (2) Trump has criticized them for it. The rest is the outlet’s opinion about the supposed frequency and facility with which he does so.


The Daily Caller

At a rally in Florida Friday night, President Donald Trump  took a hammer to the fake news reports. Trump began  touting how much the media has been apologizing for  fake news.


  • Slant: The Daily Caller implied Trump was right to criticize the media, which isn’t to be trusted because it publishes “fake news.”

  • Spin: The language here portrays Trump as powerful, and the media as a fraud. The vague phrase “how much” also suggests errors in media happen all the time.

  • Data: We can extract the same facts as in Politico’s excerpt, except The Daily Caller calls the erroneous news reports “fake news.” Did those outlets purposefully publish information they knew to be false? Sounds inconsistent with their actions to issue corrections once they had detected the errors.


Trump’s tweet

Fake News CNN made a  vicious and purposeful mistake yesterday. They were caught red handed, just like  lonely Brian Ross at ABC News (who should be immediately fired for his “mistake”). Watch to see if @CNN fires those responsible, or was it just  gross incompetence?


  • Slant: The same as The Daily Caller’s, except specific to CNN and Ross/ABC News.

  • Spin: The language portrays news outlets as deliberately cruel, fraudulent and incompetent. Like Politico’s and The Daily Caller’s spin, this is also dishonorable.

  • Data: The data here is that both CNN and Ross published erroneous information — the rest is opinion.


You might think certain news outlets provide a more factual and balanced version of the news, but in this case that could be the byproduct of a cognitive bias. In other words, conservatives might tend to view The Daily Caller as a better outlet because they agree more with its views, for example. But if you look beyond the content or politics of each source, you’ll notice the distortion gets pretty repetitive — there’s spin, slant and opinion in all of them.


Some might argue reporting like the above is necessary, because it holds different parties accountable. And yes, accountability in both media and government is necessary for a fair, democratic society. The media can act as a type of checks-and-balances system on government, yet to do so, it must use data-based, responsible reporting. Otherwise it’s just fighting fire with fire.


Written by Ivy Nevares


Edited by Ivy NevaresJens Erik Gould and Rosa Laura Junco


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