But Seriously: Stop Giving Liars A Platform!

Margaret Sullivan, former NYTimes Public Editor, subtweets the suits who eliminated her position rather than use the L-word:

Lies are coming at the American public in torrents — raining down on them everywhere they turn.

A report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee, and obtained by The Washington Post, made that breathtakingly clear over the weekend. The intentional spreading of disinformation on every platform — from Facebook all the way to PayPal — should frighten everyone who cares about democracy.

One place that truth can prevail is in the reality-based news media, where editorial judgment comes into play.

That means it’s more important than ever not to give falsehoods a megaphone there.

Which brings us to Chris Cuomo’s 39-minute interview Thursday with Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s top dissembler.

It should have been no surprise that Conway — who coined the immortal phrase “alternative facts” in early 2017 — blithely spun her way through the interview…

Perhaps most absurd among Conway’s declarations was her objection to Cuomo’s referring to Trump as a liar, although she wouldn’t repeat the term. “You’re saying he’s not telling the truth. That’s a slur. That’s a slur.”…

The news media continues — even now when it should know better — to be addicted to “both sides” journalism. In the name of fairness, objectivity and respect for the office of the presidency, it still seems to take Trump — along with his array of deceptive surrogates — at his word, while knowing full well that his word isn’t good.

When major news organizations publish tweets and news alerts that repeat falsehoods merely because the president uttered them, it’s the same kind of journalistic malpractice as offering a prime interview spot to Kellyanne Conway…

When news organizations hand a megaphone to lies — or liars — they do actual harm. What the president himself says must be reported, of course, but only within the context of what we know.

To state it without immediate, adjacent reference to factual reality is to enter the Kellyanne Zone.

In an era rife with disinformation — and American democracy teetering on a precipice — that’s the wrong place to be.

Current NYTimes TV critic, who should know:

34 replies
  1. 1
    kindness says:

    Margaret certainly didn’t feel that way when she worked at the NY Times. She defended it then.

  2. 2

    I was tempted to weigh in on a Post piece I saw either this morning or yesterday about the lies Trump has told, only they didn’t call them lies, they said “falsehood” or some other weaselly way of putting it. I ended up not doing it, since it just doesn’t feel like it’s worth the bother. I guess I should have. The only way any of these outlets are ever going to take their duties seriously is if we readers, watchers and listeners give them a torrent of shit when they fuck up. It’s just such a thankless undertaking, though, and I really resent it. It should not be our fucking job as readers to harangue newspapers to run the blunt truth. If they can’t handle that, maybe they should step aside and make way for somebody who can.

  3. 3
    debbie says:

    You’re doing no one a service by producing viral clips where “WATCH: [Anchor] Totally Shuts Down [Guest].”

    On the other hand, I think Stephen Colbert performs a public service every week night by doing basically this same thing.

  4. 4
    Jeffro says:

    Does anyone want to print up some t-shirts with either “Both Sides” with a red circle and strike through, or “Both Sides” = “Aid and Comfort to the Guilty”, or some other to-the-point messaging? I’m thinking you could sell them to every other Democrat (32.5M t-shirts sold in a week – thank about it!) and perhaps even a few sainted Independents.

  5. 5
    Elizabelle says:

    It was a great column. And its title, in the WaPost is

    It’s high time for media to enter the No Kellyanne Zone — and stay there

    Sounds like Kellyanne is a master of the Gish Gallop.

  6. 6
    Elizabelle says:

    @kindness: Passage of time and continued exposure to TrumpWorld.

  7. 7
    bemused says:

    When it’s breaking news that a media person lambastes media continuing to both siderism and giving blatant liars a platform, it’s a glaring indication of how dysfunctional, dishone$t and unprincipled so much of our media is. When amazed voices say “Wow. Absolutely”, it’s way past time for other media folks to badger the daylights out of the worst offenders to do their damn jobs.

  8. 8
    bemused says:


    I really like your idea of Both Sides in circle with strike through t-shirt. I’d definitely buy one.

  9. 9
    gene108 says:

    If the TV news media stopped having liars on the air, they would no longer be able to book any Republican.

    And I don’t think that will sit well with the higher ups, who just look at news departments as another revenue stream.

  10. 10
    JPL says:

    @Jeffro: I wonder if Doug or John would promote something like that at the balloon juice store. It would be a great fundraiser for 2020.

  11. 11
    The Dangerman says:

    OK, from Adam’s thread, who is the Blue Footed Booby of Budapest? My first guess was Sebastien Gorka but he was born in Britain (maybe he moved to Budapest?).

    Damn, I hate being behind in my memes. Especially when it involves a, um, blue foot.

  12. 12
    debbie says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Your first guess is correct. I believe Seb traces his heritage back to somewhere in Hungary.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    Aleta says:

    This wall he wants billions for? In their estimates for the cost, I wonder what price they’ve put down for the steel. Do they mention source — Chinese steel or US steel? Has anyone calculated the increase in cost (if he got the wall he wanted) after his tariffs vs before them? I bet whatever he manages it will be crumbling or sinking or collapsing in a couple years.

  15. 15
    Jeffro says:

    @bemused: thanks!

    @JPL: I’d buy a half dozen in increasingly larger sizes so I could wear them into my 50s, 60s, and 70s 🤣

  16. 16
    Mnemosyne says:


    It’s almost like her opinion changed after watching the slow-motion trainwreck that was the 2016 election. 🤔

    For perspective, she left the NYT in April of 2016.

  17. 17
    MoCA Ace says:


    “Does anyone want to print up some t-shirts with either “Both Sides” with a red circle and strike through,”

    Unfortunately the rubes will read it as no to both sides… as in one side is just as bad as the other. Trust me. Here in the great white north I’m surrounded by dim witted deplorables.

  18. 18
    different-church-lady says:

    ZOT! The whole problem is that the media is very accustomed to reporting on people who lie only about things that can’t be seen or proven — their intentions for future action, for example, or numbers only the liar has knowledge of… that kind of stuff. For years and years the lies were subtle. So they just reported as “said” because there was nothing else they could do.

    They are completely and ironically helpless to deal with a world where people in power lie about obvious, proveable things. They have no tools to deal with it, because they’re so used to the lies being subtle and opaque, and their whole thought system is build around that principle. So they just go on trying to cram the new liars into the old framework.

  19. 19
    Aleta says:

    “So another day of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Steele dossier,” Comey told reporters after he was interviewed for roughly six hours behind closed doors. “This while the president of the United States is lying […. ] How does that make any sense?”

    He’s got a lot of nerve complaining his time was spent on emails. ‘While Trump is lying.’ While he intentionally validated the screeching lies of Giulliani and friends. If I could slap one person tonight it would be the unholy J. C.

  20. 20
    Kay says:

    Pelosi: “We cannot accept the offer they made of a billion-dollar slush fund for the President to implement his very wrong immigration policies”

    We cannot. Can. Not.

    I feel very calm and confident with her in charge. Steady leadership – not flighty and emotional.

  21. 21
    SFAW says:

    Part of this is the not-unexpected result of the Rethugs working the refs (so to speak) for 30-plus years. When they started screaming “LLLie-beral media” (fuck you, GHWB, by the way) day-in and day-out, eventually it had the desired effect.

    I — and others, I expect — said semi-recently that newspapers should post a counter, every fucking day, above the fold, of the lies Lying Littledick told the day before, alongside a counter for the rest of the Party of Traitors. No digest of the lies themselves, except perhaps in the form of “Fuckhead-in-Chief lied 12 times about the economy, 17 times about the Russia investigation, four times about domestic issues” and so forth. I guess it would be OK if they included the most egregious one — I know, I know, it’s a “target-rich environment” — and say something like “President Littledick said that the FBI stole evidence from Michael Cohen’s home. That is a ridiculous, stupid, bald-faced, outlandish lie, that only a moron or inveterate liar would say or believe.”

    No, I’m not on any psychotropic pharmaceuticals. A kid can dream, can’t he?

  22. 22
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @debbie: Though Colbert does not start by pretending that the lies are just another opinion that deserves consideration

  23. 23
    Kay says:

    The Wall is a slush fund, too. One of Trump’s low quality hires will steer contracts to hinky LLC’s who pay 12 dollars an hour to slap some crap up and call it a “wall”. OMG, don’t even put us thru this.

    They lie all the time. Why not just say they built it? Think how much money we’ll save.

  24. 24
    SFAW says:


    I feel very calm and confident with her in charge. Steady leadership – not flighty and emotional.

    Seconded, thirded, fourthed …..

  25. 25
    Mnemosyne says:


    She became a legend during the Social Security “reform” fight in the W years when Republicans demanded to know when she was going to come up with her own SS reform plan and her response was:

    ”How about ‘never’? Is ‘never’ good for you?”


  26. 26
    SFAW says:


    Unpossible. We’ve been told that she’s a corp-o-Dem who’s not liberal etc. etc.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gene108: A major problem is the media paradigm in this country, which is centered on profit, not on information.

    As for the Vichy Times, a cleansing fire of all owner and management types is desperately needed.

  28. 28
    James E Powell says:


    I really wish Comey would find a hole in the wall, crawl inside, and die.

  29. 29
    It's Not The Fall, It's The Landing says:

    FYI, the Professional Left podcast already has a line of merchandise bearing the hashtag #BothSidesDon’t: https://www.zazzle.com/collections/bothsidesdont_liberal_bloggers_lively_talk-119590016475931735

  30. 30
    Batocchio says:

    If only. Putting liars on is too profitable, unfortunately. “Controversy” sells clicks and views. Calling political figures on BS can and does draw charges of bias, because conservatives lie so much more often and about more substantial matters. We want good government. Media companies want profits.

  31. 31
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @The Dangerman: Seborrhea Dorka.

  32. 32
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @MoCA Ace: Circle & slash superimposed on BOTHSIDERISM might work – y’think?

  33. 33
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Batocchio: And the dingleberries-that-walk-sorta-like-a-human who support Combover Caligula are yooogely overrepresented in the key “easily-persuaded-to-spend-good-money-on-worthless-shit” demographic so beloved by advertisers scam artists the world over.

  34. 34
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Fire would serve, but it’s hard to control. I lean toward lampposts & rope. Hemp for victory!

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