The Washington Post’s top editor said that the publication will use words like “false” or “falsehood” when writing about certain comments from the Trump administration.
“I think we should call things false when we know that they’re false,” Marty Baron said at the Code Media conference, after being asked a question about the language of news stories. “‘Lie’ does suggest that you know that the person knew that it was false at the time that he or she said it, and said it anyway. And if we have evidence of that then we would use that term.”
After being pressed by Walt Mossberg, an editor for two websites owned by Vox Media, to disclose if the Washington Post has used the word “lie” to describe statements made by the Trump administration, Baron said “we have not yet used that term” because they haven’t encountered an applicable case yet.
“Why are you giving someone the benefit of the doubt in that way?” said the other moderator, Kara Swisher, co-founder of the media outlet Recode, while adding that The New York Times uses the term “lie” more often. (RELATED: Mainstream Outlets Forced To Issue Several Corrections On Russian Hacking Stories)
Swisher and Mossberg were sure to clarify that they agree with The NYT’s relative proclivity to calling Trump a liar, and disagree with WaPo’s approach. (RELATED: New York Times Quietly Runs Stunning Correction On Editorial Attacking Electoral College)
“I am being double-teamed,” Baron said, right before Swisher replied, “The entire room agrees with us, but go ahead.”
Swisher and Mossberg went on to ask Baron’s opinion of one of their competitors, The Wall Street Journal, specifically comments made by its editor in chief Gerard Baker.
Baker told his reporters Monday that it would not abandon objectivity in its coverage of President Donald Trump and his administration, advising that any members of his staff quit if they want to adopt an oppositional tone. (RELATED: WSJ Newsroom Upset Editor In Chief Won’t Join ‘Muslim Ban’ Circus)
Baker called it “fake news” that such an approach meant it was being soft in its news coverage of Trump, which evidently upset Swisher.
“I am easily offended by Gerry Baker,” Swisher said.
Baron, though, declined to criticize The WSJ and its promise of objectivity.
Baron is probably best known for his in-depth investigation into the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal while working at the Boston Globe. The story won him a Pulitzer Prize, and being portrayed in the popular movie “Spotlight.”
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