During last weekend’s interview with 60 Minutes, Pres. Trump admitted to Leslie Stahl that he uses the phrase “fake news” to “demean” and “discredit” legitimate media when they ask questions that discomfort him because, essentially, he wants people to believe in him, not what other people say or think.
In essence, the President has admitted that he has tried to gaslight the American people for the last four years.
As a recovering journalist, I know all too well that each member of the media carries personal bias to each article written. So does every member of every other profession. But I also know that the best journalists (and their editors) try hard to distinguish fact from opinion. As Stahl herself mentioned in the interview, 60 Minutes will not report anything as fact that its editors know to be opinion.
Stahl referred specifically to a tabloid’s reportage of items allegedly found on a laptop owned by the son of Pres. Trump’s political opponent. Investigators from institutions ranging from snopes.com to Attorney General William Barr cannot substantiate claims made by that tabloid. Stahl demonstrated her integrity as a professional by not repeating rumor, and the President left the interview soon thereafter.
The episode reveals so much about the President’s mindset, starting with his conviction that he has a monopoly on not only “truths” but also “facts.” This is narcissism, not leadership. True leaders tolerate debate and dissent because doing so ensures fairer, better policies; true leaders want what is best for all Americans and will not bend the truth to suit fringe elements.