Donald Trump lies about everything. So why do newsrooms still assume he's telling the truth, especially when he unveils grand initiatives? On Friday, Trump claimed he had reached a landmark last-minute immigration deal with Mexico, which meant he no longer had to impose the tariffs he had been threatening, part of his incoherent southern-border policy. And the press, at least for the first 24 hours, went along with the charade, producing White House-friendly headlines that suggested Trump had staved off an economic crisis. But the deal turned out to be a joke. Question: Why do journalists keep making the same egregious mistake of trusting Trump?
The fact that Trump’s grand Mexico announcement fell apart shouldn’t be a surprise, since the president has shown himself to be a committed liar who will falsify all kinds of information. The challenge then becomes: How does the press treat a president who is a habitual liar, the likes of which we’ve never seen in U.S. presidential politics, one who prevaricates about important policy claims? The answer is to stop giving Trump any benefits of the doubt. Simply assume he's lying, always.
Trump's proposed tariffs on America's largest trading partner, which he warned would hit 25% on goods from Mexico in October, likely would have had a crippling effect on the U.S. economy, especially in the southern border states. So when he called off the threat late last week, the news was often reported as a dramatic win for the White House:
- “Trump: U.S., Mexico reach deal to avoid new tariffs” (NPR)
- “Trump drops his Mexico tariff threat after reaching immigration enforcement deal” (CNN)
- “Trump says U.S. and Mexico reach last-minute deal to avoid tariffs” (CBS)