Interviewing T-Rump, Media Must Use ‘Truth Sandwich’ Technique To Counter All The Lying

January 14, 2022

Heavy-gray tule fog this near-mid-day Friday here in California’s Central Valley —  thickest I think of the season so far and chilled wet, too, a contrast from the sunshine the last few days.
Just a reminder of the time.

Tweet of the moment:

Especially with the vastness of the T-Rump’s blighted image as head of the worse group of assholes ever assembled in the tiniest big-tent political party — Republicans — and the criminal, illegal mindset of the whole crowd. A creation in reality for decades, pulled into sad, general relief by the horror that’s T-Rump.
He’s the ultimate lying liar — if he stopped lying, he’d probably drop dead from lack of oxygen. The GOP was already fashioned and formed for his arrival on the scene.

Right now, T-Rump’s entire life cycle is endless blubberings about the Big Lie — the 2020 election was stolen from him and Joe Biden is not the legal president. A chant right now so obviously a towering lie the entire scam is frighteningly absurd and literally insane.
In the last five years, it’s taken the MSM a bit of spine-finding to call lying, ‘lying,’ and not ‘falsehoods.’ Media is currently in a bad place handling T-Rump and Republican lying in general, but they’re making inroads.
One such incident occurred this week in the ongoing quest to properly interview T-Rump with a straight face and reveal the lies with good journalism.
I’m sure you’ve heard of NPR‘s telephone interview Tuesday with the T-Rump, and the dumb-ass way it ended — when pressed on the lying shit of the Big Lie, the orange-faced turd abruptly said so long and hung up. Supposed to last 15 minutes, the interview collapsed after nine.

Margaret Sullivan, media columnist at The Washington Post, posted this morning on the incident, giving a journalism high-five to Steve Inskeep, host of NPR‘s “Morning Edition,” and kudos on how to handle T-Rump’s rotted-sewage stream of lies.
Not only good radio but also a pattern/template for working the wingnuttery bullshit:

But to me, the interview was less notable for its sudden ending than for what it accomplished. Although noncombative in tone, it still managed to give listeners an accurate picture of the subject matter: Trump’s insistence on promoting an evidence-free and thoroughly debunked argument that the 2020 election was rigged and that he should have been granted a second term as the rightful winner.

Inskeep and NPR demonstrated that they were fully aware of how damaging such fabrications can be — and that they are unwilling to hand a big megaphone to that “big lie.”

Throughout the interview, Trump kept coming with his misleading rhetoric, offering one fleetingly plausible-sounding but utterly false idea after another about a supposedly fraud-ridden election.

But Inskeep kept coming, too, pushing back at each of these statements.
“Your own lawyers had no evidence of fraud,” the host corrected Trump at one point.
“They said in court they had no evidence of fraud, and the judges ruled against you every time on the merits.”

It was a great example of what I’ve been advocating for years: the “truth sandwich” approach to covering false claims, not a new problem but certainly a pervasive one in the Trump era.
The idea is to avoid magnifying lies; and the technique is to surround false statements with established truths before and after, thus blunting the effect of what can amount to propaganda.

It helped, immensely, that NPR’s interview was taped. It meant that Inskeep was able to lead into his piece with almost five minutes of reporting, including archived interviews with election officials and others.
So, when listeners heard Trump, they could keep in mind what they had heard just minutes before. After the conversation with Trump came yet another voice — that of Mara Liasson, an NPR national political correspondent, who talked with Inskeep for a minute or so to provide valuable perspective and another helping of truth.

“A master class in contextualization,” Richard Tofel, longtime president of ProPublica, called the interview.
And, he added, a reminder of “why Trump and fellow Big Liars should be interviewed on tape rather than live.”

Inskeep said Thursday that a taped interview was always the plan and that Trump and his handlers had no objection when they agreed to the interview, NPR’s first with Trump since he became a presidential candidate in 2015.
Inskeep has been requesting one regularly since then.

The host was not only well-prepared to counter, in real time, what Trump probably would say during the interview. He was also well aware of the possible pitfalls.
“The whole genre of newsmaker-interviews is broken,” Inskeep told me.
Too many interviews make the newsmaker “the narrator of the story,” he explained — and particularly in these political times, “sometimes they are unreliable narrators.”

Presenting these conversations as raw Q&A’s means that the public is deprived of the necessary context.
Deprived, too often, of truth.
“You need extra voices, extra facts, extra context,” Inskeep said.

The role of mainstream journalists is significant, and, overall, their record has been far less than stellar. Too many, whether in a one-on-one interview or at larger sessions with a number of reporters, have failed to push back in a way that matters.
Trump is such a facile talker — one who specializes in dazzling displays of distraction, ad hominem attacks and repetition — that challenging him effectively in real time can be almost impossible.

Those journalistic failures have not served the public.

As George Lakoff, a linguist and a proponent of the “truth sandwich,” told me in 2018: “Trump needs the media and the media help him by repeating what he says.”

Now more than ever.
If Republicans/T-Rump have a soft spot, it’s being called on shit — might explain the RNC move to maybe pull out of the 2024 presidential debates, a full-blown bullshit whine.

Plus Republicans are such assholes anyway:

Plus, once again, here we are…

(Illustration out front: ‘A Break in Reality,’ by Xetobyte, found here).

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