Media bias against Donald Trump and his administration has been well covered, and the latest article from Forbes is a case in point.
Randall Lane, who is the chief content officer for Forbes media, recently published an article entitled “A Truth Reckoning: Why We’re Holding Those Who Lied for Trump Accountable,” describing how he believes former Trump administration officials, more specifically press secretaries, should be treated as liars for the foreseeable future and denied employment.
He wrote, “As American democracy rebounds, we need to return to a standard of truth when it comes to how the government communicates with the governed. The easiest way to do that, from where I sit, is to create repercussions for those who don’t follow the civic norms. Trump’s lawyers lie gleefully to the press and public, but those lies, magically, almost never made it into brief and arguments – contempt, perjury and disbarment keep the professional standards high.”
The article continues, “So what’s the parallel in the dark arts of communication? Simple: Don’t let the chronic liars cash in on their dishonesty…Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet.”
Lane attempts to defend his position, stating that this campaign against Trump staffers “isn’t cancel culture,” it isn’t “politically motivated” and that his magazine is generally “right-of-center.”
It will be difficult for Lane to defend this position.
His bias and vitriol are obvious, especially with a line like “Donald Trump devolved from commander-in-chief to liar-in-chief” and calling Kayleigh McEnany “a propaganda prodigy at 32 who makes smiling falsehood an art form.”
When challenged by NPR about his article, specifically pointing out that part of the job of a political communications representative “is to spin – that it’s rarely straight facts,” Lane pushed back. He argued, “Yes. The job of press secretaries sometimes is a lie of omission or it’s a spin. But never have we had, in modern history, an administration where up was down, right – you know.”
Either Lane himself is lying, or he is a poor researcher.
A quick Google search from 2001 to 2015 reveals a variety of articles describing various lies told by White House Press Secretaries.
One of the first results is from the Barack Obama administration, where then-presidential press secretary Jay Carney lied about credible allegations regarding a prostitution scandal in the Secret Service. He said at the White House podium: “There have been no specific, credible allegations of misconduct by anyone on the White House advance team.”
As The Washington Post, a liberal news bastion, puts it, “Carney’s statement was flat untrue.”
The Post also references another article, published by The New York Times in 1996 about then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. It’s entitled, “Essay; Blizzard of Lies,” and lists all of the lies perpetuated by Clinton at that time. The article begins with this statement, “Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our First Lady – a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation – is a congenital liar.”
Robert Gibbs, another Obama press secretary, also admits to lying about the drone program due to direct pressure and direction from the administration. He said, “When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the things, one of the first things they told me was, ‘You’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists.’”
Perhaps the most famous press secretary who lied in order to try and protect his boss was Ron Ziegler who served under Republican President Richard Nixon. He famously called the Watergate break-in a “third-rate burglary.”
If Trump’s press secretaries are lying, then what are other press secretaries and administrations doing? I would say they’re using “alternative facts,” but that was a term first coined by Kellyanne Conway and disparaged by Lane.
All politicians lie or have others do it for them; that’s been the same for centuries. To act like Trump’s lies are somehow worse or more insidious than others is a falsehood meant to slander the men and women who were hired to do a job under the direction of President Donald Trump. They did their job, just like other press secretaries before them. It’s not easy nor always glamorous, and sometimes it does require them to spin a situation or at the extreme to outright lie, often to protect national security. That’s the job.
Ironically, Lane was not of the same opinion as his boss, Steve Forbes, the head of Forbes Media.
In an interview with Fox News, he said, “This is reminiscent of what we had in the 1950s during the McCarthy era. People were denied work because of their political beliefs. We’re not going to have blacklists and the like. People can express their opinions. Unlike other organizations, we do have diverse opinions at Forbes and we value those diverse opinions and I think that shows strength, not weakness.”
He also expressed his disdain of cancel culture, which he called a “cancer,” and also reiterated that Forbes remains open-minded, “Unlike Twitter, media giants, and Big Tech companies, we believe in diversity of opinion.”
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but Lane should have double checked at least some of his facts before he tells the world that his company will consider every former Trump press secretary and the companies they work for liars until proven otherwise.
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