If You Want to Dunk on Trump, You Need Basic Math Skills

In this Tuesday, April 25, 2017, photo, gas prices are displayed at a Mobil station in Alameda, Calif. Exxon Mobil Corp. reports earnings Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


Journalists have not been handling Donald Trump’s time as president very well, and the COVID-19 situation has broken them even further beyond repair. There is such a thing as necessary fact-checking, though as a former newspaper editor and editor of quite a few digital journalism pieces, I can assure you that, in theory, the fact-checking is something reporters are supposed to be doing quite often.

However, many reporters are conflating “fact-checking” and “dunking” on people they don’t like – namely, Trump and Republicans – in their efforts to hold the powerful accountable after years of softballing it to the Democrats.

On Sunday, Trump mentioned that he’d seen some places selling gas as low as 91 cents per gallon, which is extraordinary, but understandable. With shelter-in-place orders across the country, people are not driving as much, and it is leading to higher supply. Those of us who understand economics know when supply is up and demand is down, then prices go down.

In fact, you can look it up quite easily. Websites like GasBuddy and others will actually show you where you can find gas that cheap. It takes approximately thirty seconds, depending on the speed of your internet. Now, if you’re a reporter who thinks 91 cents per gallon is questionable, the best thing to do is look up specific areas.


Now, that might take some time if you don’t know places like GasBuddy exist. So, you do a quick Google search of “gas prices around the U.S.” and the first site to come up is the AAA. If you look there, you’ll find gas averages.

At this point, you have two choices. The correct choice would be to find specific locations with gas prices at 91 cents per gallon. It will take a little more research, but hey, journalism is all about finding the truth. The incorrect choice is to say “Well, the average is $1.97, so it Trump can’t be right,” and post the national average.

James Hohmann, a national correspondent for the Washington Post chose the incorrect path, if you can believe it.

As you might guess, a good many people pointed out that local gas prices and the national average are not comparable. Places in Minnesota and Ohio are quite rural and don’t see much traffic. Gas there is not going to be nearly as high as, say, Washington D.C., where Hohmann lives.


When called out on it, he acts as though it’s a tiny mistake and that he wasn’t trying to dunk on Trump.

Except, if he weren’t trying to do that, then there is no point for the original tweet at all. Hohmann, by pointing out the difference, is trying to say that something Trump is saying is absurd. The tweet has no purpose if he were not trying to imply that with his “reporting.” It is very apparent that this was meant to be a dunk, and after a couple hours of getting counter-dunked on, Hohmann posts this silly explanation instead of correcting himself.

This is why people have such a hard time giving the media any credit. It’s why Trump’s approval rating is higher than theirs. People are tired of journalists degrading themselves by letting personal emotion make them look and act stupid on social media and on television. There is a major crisis going on, and the best some of these so-called defenders of democracy can do is provide piss-poor fact checks that an eighth-grade math student can tell you are bad analysis.


And yet, for all their talk about holding the President accountable when he lies, they will never admit they made any mistakes. They will never admit they have been wrong. They are in their own special cult and you, especially those of you who live in rural America where you likely see gas prices hovering at or below one $1.00 per gallon, don’t have the right to address their flaws. They’ll always look down on you because they are The Media. They are the reporters who give you the information they think you need to know. And, by God, if we say Trump can’t be right about gas prices being 91 cents per gallon because the national average is $1.97, then you just accept it and admit the President is wrong, or else you’re an ignorant rube.

Don’t buy into their nonsense. Hold them accountable.


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