Accuracy in Media

In order to sell copies, publishers and authors of new books often release quotes and sections of the book to entice media coverage and attention to drive up sales. In the political arena, quotes about President Donald Trump quickly hit the news cycle due to a mix of truth, sensationalism, and anonymous sourcing.

The latest example of a book quote setting the mainstream media on fire is when Trump allegedly suggested “they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down.” The book, entitled, “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration,” boasted two New York Times Washington, D.C.-based correspondents as its authors. The New York Times ran the quote from the book, which then spread like wildfire to other mainstream media outlets and networks.

CBS News published an article that featured the quote in the headline and in the article’s seventh paragraph. Politico reported on Trump’s response to the New York Times quote, where he denied the quote was true and called it “Fake News!” CNN’s article also paraphrased the quote in the headline and in the article’s opening paragraph.

Considering the quote was from an anonymous source, it is hard to disprove or refute outside of Trump’s outright denial of the quote on Twitter. Regardless, anonymous sourcing is commonplace in media reporting to protect the source while providing details and context to the American public and media. However, the mainstream media should confirm the quote from the book through their sources, not solely relying on the New York Times correspondents. The media typically uses multiple sources to confirm stories, but this story has since devolved into a de-facto public relations and sales campaign for the new book instead of being truthful and accurate in reporting or sourcing.

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