It’s not that we desire to defend what Donald Trump has said – he’s perfectly capable of doing as much of that as is necessary himself. But we do want to defend him from what is said he has said. Because there’s a certain amount of twisting going on.
This is not unusual in political reporting, that what is said has been said is not quite what was actually said. There was a time when a British Prime Minister was reported as saying, about the latest loud youth music (think Green Day or similar), that he listened to it to get out of bed in the morning. In fact, he’d been played some and said, “I can see that would get you out of bed in the morning.”
Twisting what has actually been said into what makes a better story simply is not unusual in political reporting
This brings us to Trump. Vice reported that Trump said “Trump told rally attendees that conservatives must “lay down their very lives to defend their country”—from critical race theory. “ No, that’s not what he said at all. Teen Vogue runs with the same idea: “Donald Trump Tells South Carolina Rally to “Lay Down Their Lives” Over Critical Race Theory.”
Those are, respectively, the subhead and the headline to the respective pieces. This is the information they wish people to come away with.
What was actually said was: “Trump said that “getting critical race theory out of our schools is not just a matter of values, it’s also a matter of national survival. We have no choice.” “ and then, separately, ““The fate of any nation ultimately depends upon the willingness of its citizens to lay down—and they must do this—lay down their very lives to defend their country,” Trump said. “If we allow the Marxists and communists and socialists to teach our children to hate America, there will be no one left to defend our flag or protect our great country or its freedom.”
As we can see in Ukraine right now, as was true of America at the time of the Revolution. The willingness of the people to fight, and so risk paying down their lives, for their freedom and liberty is the very guarantee of that freedom and liberty. That’s not in the slightest controversial.
What Trump has said is that at times that laying down life in defense of liberty is essential to its preservation. He’s also said that critical race theory is something to fight against. But what he’s not said is that people must lay down their lives to defend from critical race theory. Yet that is what he’s being said as having said.
Vice is a significant part of the new media landscape. The cable TV channel reaches 60 million American homes. There’s a substantial YouTube operation and the website itself gains 26 million visits a month. Teen Vogue is smaller but more specific in its audience. It claims to be “educating the influencers of tomorrow” and is clearly aimed at female teens. It gets some 4 million visits a month as it does so.
Trump could be right or wrong about critical race theory. It’s entirely standard to agree that, in the end and under pressure, the survival of a society depends on the idea that the people will risk their lives to preserve their way of life. What Trump didn’t say is that people should lay down their lives to defend from critical race theory. Yet that’s what journalists are saying he did say.