- Journalists are debating again whether to call President Donald Trump a “racist.”
- Outlets famous for censoring profanity chose to print his description of certain countries where immigrants come to the US as a “shithole.”
Since President Donald Trump’s political ascent in 2015, many journalists and traditional media organisations have had hand-wringing syntactical debates over how to characterise Trump’s most inflammatory comments, opting in many cases to call them “racially charged” or “racist statements.”
But following Trump’s reported complaint about accepting immigrants from “shithole countries” – and his declaration last year that 15,000 Haitians who entered the US in the preceding months “all have AIDS” and Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” in Africa – some left-leaning media critics have again asked a question: Why not call Trump a “racist?”
Splinter’s David Uberti said Thursday that nearly a year into his presidency, many journalists are “largely tiptoeing around a perfectly accurate observation: Trump is racist.” He argued that many news outlets either avoid calling Trump a racist or dodge the assertion by characterising his comments as such rather than making a character judgment.
The Washington Post’s Philip Bump hypothesized that it was “more useful to point out that the things they said are racist, because that is both more defensible objectively and less likely to seem like an ad hominem attack.”
Some personalities like CNN’s Jim Acosta, who has emerged as one of the most prominent White House press briefing antagonists, said reporters could no longer tiptoe around the president’s claims about race.
“The president of the United States just seems to have a problem here, Wolf, in this area,” he told host Wolf Blitzer. “And we can tiptoe around it and dance around it and not put our finger on it, but the president seems to harbour racist feelings about people of colour from other parts of the world.”
He added: “And it’s just a terrible thing to have come out of your mouth as a White House correspondent or a journalist, but if these comments are accurate, Wolf, I think it’s just going to cause more damage, more grave damage to this presidency because it cuts to the very core of who he is.”
Other cable news personalities reacted:
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) January 11, 2018
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 11, 2018
The president’s penchant for using profanity has forced media organisations to change the way they approach censorship, forcing many to take slightly less censored stances.
The New York Times characterised the comments as “disparaging words” in its headline. Others, however, including The Washington Post, Associated Press, and CNN, didn’t hold back.
“We believed the president using this language about other nations in a policy discussion on immigration was newsworthy and it would be futile to mask the word when the language itself, in reference to Haiti and African countries, was so extraordinary,” saod Kpjm Daniszewski, the AP’s vice president for standards.
Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said: “When the president says it, we’ll use it verbatim. That’s our policy. We discussed it, quickly, but there was no debate.”
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