My local newspaper, The Washington Post, keeps making editorial choices that amount to dancing to President Donald Trump’s narcissistic tune even while trying to point out his flaws. I wrote to the editors:
Please change five ways you cover this president. He’s not like his predecessors. His actions compel different coverage.
He proposes flatly unconstitutional acts, such as deporting people without due process. Don’t lead with what he suggests. Your story is “President’s Proposal Unconstitutional.” He swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. When he urges abandonment of the Constitution (or displays utter ignorance of it), we all must object.
This president lies or gaslights regularly. That story is “Another Presidential Lie.” You must bury the actual lie as deeply as possible in the article, because propagating the lie is what a strategic liar wants you to do. Don’t lead with a summary of the lie, then quote the tweeted lie, then publish an image of the tweet. That gives three victories to the liar before he’s refuted.
We understand his fascination with seeing his name. Printing his name in three, four, five daily headlines fans that flame. Write about the policies, not about him, when possible.
Don’t let his thumbs redirect your spotlight. When he tweets an insult or celebrity spat, ignore it, or at best bury it on page 12 as “Conduct Unbecoming” and claw back more of page one for stronger news.
Finally, please force GOP leaders in Congress (especially Messrs. Ryan, McCarthy, McConnell and Cornyn) to confront presidential misconduct as part of their constitutional responsibility. Carefully forge piercing questions. Print their answers. Do not print vague evasions or deflections. When they are again complicit, when they fail again, don’t chide them for the nth time to do better; call for their ouster.
If you can’t do all this, you might as well change your slogan to “Democracy Died in Broad Daylight.”[*]
That’s my 321. Offer yours?
[*the current motto of The Washington Post is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”]