Ever since Donald Trump’s election we’ve been bombarded with stories about “fake news.” As best as I can tell, “fake news” is news or information that runs against the current cheerleading by the media for Democrats and progressive politics. For instance, no one called CBS a purveyor of “fake news” when Dan Rather used blatantly obvious bogus documents to try to torpedo George Bush in 2004. No one has called NBC a “fake news” source because of Brian Williams. No one has called Politico “fake news” even though one of their reporters, Josh Gerstein, regularly reported stuff on Clinton’s email travails that was obvious false and declared to be false by even the superficial FBI investigation. “Fake news” did not include the puffery on Obamacare nor does it cover the monthly news stories about job creation that are half-truths at best. Nope. None of that counts because none of that fits the narrative.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump met with New York Times reporters. During that meeting the subject of anthropogenic global warming came up. This is how the media reported the story.
The overall media take on the story was that Trump was backtracking on his campaign positions on climate change. In fact, based on the news coverage of the meeting, I followed suit. (You can find examples of how the meeting was spun here and here.) Now the transcript is out and it shows a remarkably different meeting than the one portrayed.
THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, opinion columnist: Mr. President-elect, can I ask a question? One of the issues that you actually were very careful not to speak about during the campaign, and haven’t spoken about yet, is one very near and dear to my heart, the whole issue of climate change, the Paris agreement, how you’ll approach it. You own some of the most beautiful links golf courses in the world …
[laughter, cross talk]
TRUMP: [laughing] I read your article. Some will be even better because actually like Doral is a little bit off … so it’ll be perfect. [inaudible] He doesn’t say that. He just says that the ones that are near the water will be gone, but Doral will be in great shape.
FRIEDMAN: But it’s really important to me, and I think to a lot of our readers, to know where you’re going to go with this. I don’t think anyone objects to, you know, doing all forms of energy. But are you going to take America out of the world’s lead of confronting climate change?
TRUMP: I’m looking at it very closely, Tom. I’ll tell you what. I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully. It’s one issue that’s interesting because there are few things where there’s more division than climate change. You don’t tend to hear this, but there are people on the other side of that issue who are, think, don’t even
SULZBERGER: Well, since we’re living on an island, sir, I want to thank you for having an open mind. We saw what these storms are now doing, right? We’ve seen it personally. Straight up.
FRIEDMAN: But you have an open mind on this?
TRUMP: I do have an open mind. And we’ve had storms always, Arthur.
SULZBERGER: Not like this.
TRUMP: You know the hottest day ever was in 1890-something, 98. You know, you can make lots of cases for different views. I have a totally open mind.
My uncle was for 35 years a professor at M.I.T. He was a great engineer, scientist. He was a great guy. And he was … a long time ago, he had feelings — this was a long time ago — he had feelings on this subject. It’s a very complex subject. I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know. I know we have, they say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists. Where was that, in Geneva or wherever five years ago? Terrible. Where they got caught, you know, so you see that and you say, what’s this all about. I absolutely have an open mind. I will tell you this: Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important.
JAMES BENNET, editorial page editor: When you say an open mind, you mean you’re just not sure whether human activity causes climate change? Do you think human activity is or isn’t connected?
TRUMP: I think right now … well, I think there is some connectivity. There is some, something. It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies. You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now.
MICHAEL D. SHEAR, Just one quick clarification on the climate change, do you intend to, as you said, pull out of the Paris Climate …
TRUMP: I’m going to take a look at it.
Quite honestly, on reading this I don’t find a lot to disagree with. He shoots down the alarmism, he clearly states that he has doubts about the veracity of the climate change syndicate, he ties his level of concern about global warming to damage attempt to mitigate that alleged event have on the US economy, and he says he’ll “take a look at” the goofy Paris Climate accord.
I’d be the last person to ever claim that I knew what Trump was thinking but the substance of the interview does not comport with the storylines of Trump softening his opposition to warmist scaremongering.
Why, then, if the news coverage of Trump’s interview differs markedly from what was actually said is it not treated as “fake news?” Simple reason. The news coverage supports the liberal orthodoxy and it serves a second purpose of trying to drive a wedge between Trump and his supporters. This is why Sean Hannity was so correct a couple of nights ago when he encouraged Trump to cut the traditional media out of the process entirely.
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