Jun 4, 2018

A lie by any other name: why can’t journos call politicians liars?

A New York Times journalist is under fire for the reporting of Trump's "demonstrable falsehoods", but this issue goes far beyond the US media.

Christopher Warren

Journalist and media watcher

Ask a person in the street how they know politicians are lying and, more likely than not, they’ll reply: “Because their lips are moving".

Unfair? Sure. Politicians are mostly honourable people. So journalists have to take a more nuanced approach; we report that politicians “mis-speak”, they “over-promise” or, in Winston Churchill’s words, use “terminological inexactitudes”. Now, journalists are being called out on these overly generous circumlocutions. If it’s a lie, social media demands it be called one.

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