News outlets on both ends of the political spectrum and everyone in between are facing an unusual situation with the presidency of Donald Trump.
The unprecedented level of lies, alternative facts and conspiracy theories coming from the President is well documented.
While his supporters repeat the lies as if there was any basis for them, news outlets struggle with decisions on how to report the President's baseless claims, especially during a global public health crisis. Some simply repeat the President's words verbatim without commentary, others report with a fact check making it clear the President lied while others simply refuse to report his false statements.
NBC News took a different route and found themselves drawing harsh criticism when they made the decision to give credence to Trump's latest falsehood.
NBC News reported:
"President Trump and his supporters have charged that Barack Obama and Joe Biden conspired against Michael Flynn, but there's no hard evidence to support the claims."
President Trump and his supporters have charged that Barack Obama and Joe Biden conspired against Michael Flynn, bu… https://t.co/M1JyCh3VYN— NBC News (@NBC News)1589489586.0
The backlash was swift.
You cannot find hard evidence to disprove a lie. That's what makes people so vulnerable to conspiracy theories and other scams.
People made this point to NBC in no uncertain terms.
No "hard" evidence? C'mon NBC, you can do better than that. How about: "no evidence whatsoever because the entire s… https://t.co/VLOoQ6NOwF— Michael Carpenter (@Michael Carpenter)1589549524.0
@mikercarpenter This both siderism by media over the past 5 years is partly to blame why we are in this nightmare— Olga Lautman (@Olga Lautman)1589559613.0
@mikercarpenter Why did they say “no hard evidence “ that just makes people think there may still be evidence.… https://t.co/c0ixja7Ip4— craig (@craig)1589551880.0
@mikercarpenter There's not even a coherent accusation.— grrrrr (@grrrrr)1589550150.0
@mikercarpenter @ReginaldALawso1 Even tRump himself can't explain what it is, but "It's been going on for years, ev… https://t.co/DIe8pTcMM5— Critical Thinker (@Critical Thinker)1589555985.0
@mikercarpenter @ericgarland I thought Obamagate was just what he had in his driveway. Makes more sense than anythi… https://t.co/jEIVmRftJh— Port Blacksand Tourist Board (@Port Blacksand Tourist Board)1589550211.0
@mikercarpenter @OneMargaretx Or reporters should just say “Trump’s baseless accusations”— Svea Elske (@Svea Elske)1589558490.0
No “hard evidence”? Great work, NBC News! (Great example of how batshit conspiracy theories get bothsidesized in a… https://t.co/u5W4ZIH9es— Josh Marshall (@Josh Marshall)1589541919.0
2/ Journalistic malfeasance like this at @NBCNews is a good example of how bad faith actors are able to game the bo… https://t.co/eu5fbCEkA8— Josh Marshall (@Josh Marshall)1589543806.0
3/ there's a huge incentive to make maximal and nonsensical claims. And for professional liars the incentives are i… https://t.co/05p5LdN3tg— Josh Marshall (@Josh Marshall)1589543806.0
Others were happy to tell NBC what other things there is "no hard evidence for."
@NBCNews I am nineteen feet tall, can walk on water and speak every language in this world, as well as a few from o… https://t.co/KTa1RcEHQt— Walter Shaub (@Walter Shaub)1589551855.0
@waltshaub @NBCNews What a coincidence! My boyfriend, Brad Pitt, is also 19’ tall and according to his supporters,… https://t.co/V9Aj6tZkhx— Kristine Kenyon (@Kristine Kenyon)1589552126.0
@kristine_kenyon @waltshaub @NBCNews I ❤️ the humor but I'm going with the #TruthSandwich. https://t.co/sFSjB1kwUi— Rena Korb (@Rena Korb)1589552300.0
@waltshaub @NBCNews I‘m Superman, but there is no hard evidence to support my claim. Will @NBCNews report that?— Stephan (@Stephan)1589552750.0
@waltshaub @NBCNews “My name is Elmer J. Fudd. I own a mansion and a yacht.”— 𝑀𝒾𝓈𝑔𝒾𝓋𝒾𝓃𝑔𝓈 (@𝑀𝒾𝓈𝑔𝒾𝓋𝒾𝓃𝑔𝓈)1589552040.0
I trust you’ll report on my statement that I am a three-time Super Bowl champion, even though there’s no hard evide… https://t.co/7zgsNdZxrC— Kevin M. Kruse (@Kevin M. Kruse)1589551426.0
@NBCNews There is no hard evidence that I beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon.— James Fallows (@James Fallows)1589508117.0
People are saying that @NBCNews conspired against @CBSNews, but there’s no hard evidence to support the claims. https://t.co/tNKx7qYhlx— Jon Favreau (@Jon Favreau)1589490495.0
Despite the humor, the point was clear.
@NBCNews “No hard evidence?” Is @NBCNews seriously trying to match the NYTimes for lousy misleading tweet wording?… https://t.co/b8UMm6XjNq— Mark Hughes (@Mark Hughes)1589577745.0
@NBCNews No hard evidence? There's no evidence whatsoever. Not a shred. Not a scintilla— DC Deciphered (@DC Deciphered)1589489790.0
“No hard evidence”? How about *zero* evidence? How about *falsely* charged? The ‘liberal’ media has learned noth… https://t.co/m85XlJ6cLU— Mehdi Hasan (@Mehdi Hasan)1589519316.0
@nycsouthpaw @NBCNews No "hard evidence" Shouldn't that be no evidence? Do better, NBC.— Elocin Finney (@Elocin Finney)1589506500.0
@NBCNews @ArthurAndrews5 Milquetoast reporting from @NBCNews. Both sidesterism. Cowardly journalism. "No hard evide… https://t.co/BfWQhTjFxd— Spirit of 2020 (@Spirit of 2020)1589492348.0
And some called for a more robust indictment by the press of the known actions of the Trump administration.
@waltshaub @RedGia @NBCNews What we need is for reporters to start asking the real questions no American ever thoug… https://t.co/HRijkxLOTK— Independent Mind (@Independent Mind)1589556917.0
The Washington Post has been running a fact checker that proves or disproves the validity of statements from politicians and government officials regardless of their party or political leanings. By far their biggest offender is President Trump.
The Post created an explanation for how their fact checker works, to dispel claims that their review was biased against Trump or others who were cited for lying.
In April 2020, President Trump reached 18,000 lies since taking office. Despite claims by his supporters that "the other side" or "all politicians" lie, no President in recorded history lies as often as President Donald Trump.
What people wanted NBC News to do was consider the source and give the claims they reported on the credit they deserved. In other words, absolutely none.
The book Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President's Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies is available for pre-order here.