Donald Trump’s tweets received rabid attention from the news media throughout the campaign, and now that he’s the president-elect, that coverage hasn’t let up.
“Since Election Day, President-elect Donald J. Trump has proposed a U-turn in American diplomatic relations with Cuba, boasted about negotiations with a major manufacturer, trumpeted false claims about millions of illegal votes and hinted that he might upend current free speech laws by banning flag burning,” The New York Times reports. “All in 140 characters or less.”
The report suggests Trump’s tweets represent something of an ethical dilemma for the media.
“As news organizations grapple with covering a commander in chief unlike any other, Mr. Trump’s Twitter account — a bully pulpit, propaganda weapon and attention magnet all rolled into one — has quickly emerged as a fresh journalistic challenge and a source of lively debate,” The Times reports. “How to cover a president’s pronouncements when they are both provocative and maddeningly vague? Does an early-morning tweet amount to a planned shift in American policy? Should news outlets, as some readers argue, ignore clearly untrue tweets, rather than amplify falsehoods further?”
The Times interviewed political editors, reporters and others to gather opinions on the proper approach to Trump’s tweets.
In a Twitter post Tuesday, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, wrote: “Media would be wise to stop hyper-coverage of Trump’s tweets — they distract, distort and debase.”
Historian Fred Kaplan put it more bluntly, declaring: “It’s time to ignore his tweets.”
Said Carrie Budoff Brown, the newly installed editor of Politico: “Reporting complex policy issues out of tweets, I would say that’s not ideal. We have to treat it as one piece of a bigger reporting puzzle that we have to put together.”
She added: “This is the way he’s communicating with millions upon millions of people, and as journalists we can’t ignore that.”
We encourage readers to click on the link above to The New York Times to read the full analysis.