CNN's John Avlon explains why journalists should call out Trump's lies

Avlon: “Part of our job is to call a lie a lie and a fact a fact. We need to insist on a fact-based debate.”

From the November 26th edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

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JOANNE LIPMAN: CNN itself actually has shown that he says something like, you calculated five and a half mistruths per day. And I love your spectrum, but I have to say that I think its a really dicey question to even raise. I think it is very controversial to say, “lie” because “lie” suggests intent, right? I think it is our job, as journalists, to point out when things are not true, to point out when they are exaggerated, but to say something is a lie --


LIPMAN: I think is a very different thing.

STELTER And yet, a lot of viewers at home are screaming at the TV saying, “he's lying, just say he's lying.” There's this tension.

JOHN AVLON: I respectfully disagree, and these are editorial choices, but I think part of our job is to call a lie a lie and a fact a fact. We need to insist on a fact-based debate. And that doesn't require us always being soothsayers and figuring out intent. Sometimes it's very clear, if he's reversing himself on the Access Hollywood tape and this belief that other people won't remember what we've seen and what he's said, that goes to intent or at least a distension from reality. What I think we need to understand is that for Donald Trump, the baseline is what he called when he was a real estate magnate, “truthful hyperbole.”

STELTER: I was going to put that on the spectrum.

AVLON: That “truthful hyperbole” is his baseline. He is a master marketer, whatever else you think about him. The problem is that instinct, that impulse, which has apparently served him rather well in life, is utterly incompatible with the responsibilities of the presidency where words matter, where they have life and death weight. And so it is our job to call that out and to insist on a fact-based debate, and that means calling out a lie a lie, but also recognizing there are gradations.


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