The Current

Journalists warn against normalizing Trump

The word "normalized" is heard quite a bit when it comes to how reporters should cover President Trump. And how to cover this unprecedented U.S. president is on the minds of editors and news consumers everywhere.
President Donald Trump held a press conference on his first full day of office in which he criticized the media for its coverage of his inauguration. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

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"As you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth."

Words spoken by President Donald J. Trump, on his first full day in office, Jan 22. speaking at a press conference in which he criticized the news media for its coverage of his inauguration.

"It looked like a million-and-a-half people," Trump said, disparaging networks for showing empty fields.

While there are no official estimates both photographs and subway ridership numbers indicate that his claim there were a million-and-a-half people in attendance is highly unlikely.

Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway defended Trump's statements as "alternative facts."

"We have the the post factual campaign and now we have the alternative factual administration," conservative political commentatorCharlie Sykes tells The Current's guest host Connie Walker.

"We need to understand that on day one of his administration, the president sent out his press secretary to brazenly lie and the issue here is not so much the crowd size — it's whether or not facts actually matter," says Skyes who left his long-running syndicated radio program in the aftermath of the election.

'These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong,' says White House press secretary Sean Spicer 1:19

The issue of "alternative facts" is just one of the challenges news media faces when reporting on the Trump administration. 

Editor-in-chief of Slate.comJulia Turnerbelieves the focus on media coverage should be policy-based but that doesn't mean ditch following Trump's twitter account.

"He's practically conducting diplomacy, if you want to call it that, through Twitter so I don't think we can ignore the man," Turner tells Walker.

"But I think it's really important to put those things in context and to really focus on who he's appointing … what actions they're taking, and what the likely impact of those actions will be on American citizens and people around the world."

Just 24 hours into Trump's presidency, Turner says the degree to which journalists and citizens can rely on facts collected by the federal government is now quite concerning.

"A lot of the data that we rely on from the census, to you know all kinds of other economic indicators is gathered, analyzed and released by the federal government — and having someone who is so fact-aversed in charge of those bodies is really troubling."

Sykes also has concerns and points to the problem of an administration that is set out to de-legitimize media or independent fact-based organization.

"He really is waging war on the concept of facts and part of this new reality is that I think president Trump believes that he has created an alternative reality media — that means that he can completely go around the mainstream media. "

"This a bigger issue and a bigger problem than I think a lot of people in the media have fully, fully absorbed."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post — including long time political correspondent Gianni Riotta who sees similarities with Silvio Berlusconi and the ascendency of Donald Trump to president.

This segment is part of our occasional series, Eye on the Media.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Sam Colbert.