Accuracy in Media


HuffPost teased readers to ask about Alex Acosta in a story headlined “Former Labor Secretary Calls Trump ‘Dangerously Unstable’ and ‘Getting Worse.’”

Acosta was the Secretary of Labor until July 19, when he resigned after having been found to have made a deal to give a lenient sentence to Jeffrey Epstein for Epstein’s conviction on sexual misconduct charges. If he was saying he noted deteriorating mental health for the president, it would be a story of some importance.

But it wasn’t Acosta. It wasn’t the labor secretary before him – now-Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez. It wasn’t Seth Harris or Hilda Solis or Howard Radzely or Elaine Chao or Alexis Herman. It went all the way back to a secretary of labor who hasn’t served since January 1997, who has been a determined critic of the president, who has no current knowledge of the president’s mental condition and whose case amounts to “Anyone who supports these policies must be crazy.”

The secretary of labor who thinks the president is crazy is Robert Reich, who served during the Clinton administration. The actual headline on the story is more accurate: “Robert Reich Calls Donald Trump ‘Dangerously Unstable’ and ‘Getting Worse’” – subhead: “’Friends, this is not rational behavior,’ writes economist Robert Reich.”

The story, by Mary Papenfuss, is about a column Reich wrote that appeared Sunday in The Guardian. Its top piece of evidence President Trump has gone crazy is his insistence that Alabama was at one point threatened by Hurricane Dorian – which the president proved was true by displaying weather maps showing Alabama in the potential danger zone and a tweet from the Alabama National Guard that it was preparing for the storm.

The storm did change course and continued along a path not foreseen by Trump or the forecasters at the National Weather Service or the National Hurricane Center.

According to Papenfuss, Reich “pointed to Trump’s days-long advocacy of his inaccurate weather forecast that said Alabama was threatened by Hurricane Dorian, going so far as to produce a map with a circle awkwardly drawn around Alabama to make it look like the state was in the hurricane’s path.”

Papenfuss must not have seen the map. The circle merely extends the cone of area through which the storm could have proceeded under some early scenarios. It touches only a small part of the state and is not “drawn around Alabama.”

She quoted Reich’s piece: “We’ve had presidents who cover up a sexual liaison with an intern and a botched burglary, but never have we had one who went to such lengths to cover up an inaccurate weather forecast,” Reich wrote. “Alabama being hit by a hurricane? Friends, this is not rational behavior.”

What else did Reich find to be indications Trump is crazy?

“There was the planned – and canceled – secret meeting with the Taliban just days before the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and the cancelled trip to Denmark after the nation defied Trump’s offer to purchase Greenland,” wrote Papenfuss.

“’Hello? Greenland wasn’t for sale,’ Reich wrote. ‘The U.S. no longer buys populated countries.’” Greenland has a population of 56,000 in an area about the size of Alaska and Texas combined.

Reich also thinks it’s crazy that Trump “’believes video games cause mass shootings … thinks climate change is no big deal … “ and says “’trade wars are ‘good and easy to win.’’”

Papenfuss reports that Reich says “This is not an issue of simply an unusually large ego or excessive narcissism.

“’The president of the United States is seriously, frighteningly, dangerously unstable. And he’s getting worse by the day,’ Reich wrote. ‘Such a person in the Oval Office can do serious damage.’”




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