Washington Post reporter and fact checker Glenn Kessler slammed media for their reluctance to “challenge Trump when he makes a claim that already has been found to be false” and allowing the presumptive Republican nominee to make “Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again.”
Trump has repeatedly hyped falsehoods and conspiracy theories, including his claim that he opposed the Iraq War from the start. Though this is demonstrably false, Trump made this claim 16 times without being fact-checked by the media. Trump also edits other parts of his own record, often with no pushback from reporters. Trump’s preference for phone interviews instead of face-to-face interviews allows him to have “an upper hand” and gives him the power to “diminish the interview.”
In his May 7 article, Kessler writes that the media have “no excuse” for not challenging Trump on his claims. Kessler even suggested that “TV hosts should have a list of Trump’s repeated misstatements so that if he repeats them, as he often does, he can be challenged”:
Fact checks are intended to inform voters and explain complicated issues.
Still, most politicians will drop a talking point if it gets labeled with Four Pinocchios by The Fact Checker or “Pants on Fire” by PolitiFact. No one wants to be tagged as a liar or misinformed, and we have found most politicians are interested in getting the facts straight. So the claim might be uttered once or twice, but then it gets quietly dropped or altered.
But the news media now faces the challenge of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Trump makes Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again, even though fact checkers have demonstrated them to be false. He appears to care little about the facts; his staff does not even bother to respond to fact-checking inquiries.
But, astonishingly, television hosts rarely challenge Trump when he makes a claim that already has been found to be false. For instance, Trump says he was against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but research by BuzzFeed found that he did express support for an attack. He said the White House even sent a delegation to tell him to tone down his statements —and we found that also to be false.
Yet at least a dozen television hosts in the past two months allowed Trump to make this claim and failed to challenge him. There is no excuse for this. TV hosts should have a list of Trump’s repeated misstatements so that if he repeats them, as he often does, he can be challenged on his claims.
The online version of the Fact Checker keeps a running list of Trump’s Four-Pinocchio statements. He now has 26, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of Trump’s statements that have been fact checked.