The Current

Journalism can't 'have all the answers' in the complex age of Trump, says veteran reporter

The public is "selective" about what it deems fake news, according to a veteran reporter covering the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Public is selective about what they'll call 'fake news,' says Lynn Sweet

U.S. President Donald Trump recently met A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times. The president tweeted that they discussed 'the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media.' (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

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The public is "selective" about what it deems fake news, according to a veteran reporter covering the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Lynn Sweet, the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, suggested asking people the question: "Do you believe that the Blue Jays won the game yesterday? Or is it fake?"

"And then we'll say: 'Well, how do you know it — you weren't at the game? And they say: 'Well, you know, a TV ... or print reporter said so.'

"So I think what we're really dealing with is selective decisions by people, and it's really perhaps on stories dealing with politics and government," she told The Current's guest host Megan Williams.

'We have to plug away and do our jobs'

Tweeting over the weekend, Trump revealed he met A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, to discuss "the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, 'Enemy of the People.'"

Sulzberger​ issued a statement saying he had used the meeting to press the president on his "deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric."

The debate over how the media covers the Trump administration reignited last week after CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins was barred from a White House event for asking "inappropriate" questions.

Collins says the White House denied her access to President Donald Trump's Rose Garden statement with the European Union Commission president because officials found her earlier questions 'inappropriate.' (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

In the face of that, Sweet argued that journalists need to keep doing their jobs.

"I don't think journalism necessarily can have all the answers right now, at this complex point in time with President Trump," she said.

"That's why I just keep saying we have to plug away and do our jobs. It may not be able to cure all of the things that are going on right now, but I know what happens if we stop doing what we're supposed to do."

To discuss the issue, The Current's guest host Megan Williams spoke to:

  • Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents' Association
  • Lynn Sweet, columnist and Washington bureau chief, Chicago Sun-Times
  • Becket Adams, media and politics commentator with The Washington Examiner

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this page. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Alison Masemann, Howard Goldenthal and Allie Jaynes.


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