Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Lord is a CNN political commentator. Previously, he served in the Reagan administration as a White House political adviser. The views expressed in this commentary are solely his own.
Jeffrey Lord: The mainstream media has taken Donald Trump to task for every word he has said
But these outlets must hold both Democrats and Republicans accountable
The Washington Post noticed.
A column by Glenn Kessler, which ran on January 19 – the day before President Obama left office – was headlined: “Obama’s biggest whoppers.” It detailed when Obama falsely asserted more black men were in prison than in university and when he claimed that 90% of the budget deficit was due to George W. Bush-era policies.
Though the Post has maintained its Fact Checker column since 2011, not all mainstream media outlets have – and even fewer held Obama to account during his presidency.
Conservative outlets, in contrast, had long concluded that Obama had a questionable relationship with the truth. Turn to the archives of National Review, FOX News, The Gateway Pundit and others, and there is one story after another citing chapter and verse about the habit of a sitting president of the United States to just flat-out lie.
By way of but one illustration, Jack Cashill, a columnist for the conservative New York Post, wrote a piece headlined: “5 lies that have shaped the Obama presidency.” Cashill begins, “I’ve counted 75 significant lies since his campaign for president began, but that doesn’t begin to tally the casual fibs and hyperbole he spouts seemingly every day. Here are five that illustrate just how much Obama’s presidency is built on falsehoods.” He later published an entire book on the same subject!
But it isn’t Obama who has the reputation for being a habitual liar. That media narrative is being tagged to President Donald Trump – the latest revolving around a series of tweets alleging Obama wiretapped his phones.
Presidents should tell the truth, but, of course, they all lie at some point in time. Johnson, Nixon and Clinton lied, each one causing great harm to his administration. Reagan, accused of lying in the Iran-Contra affair, rebounded by admitting a mistake.
But developing media narratives that one president is a liar while ignoring this narrative for another more ideologically-favored presidential repeat-offender damages the credibility of the media accuser as well. Best advice for all? Tell the truth.