Tired of italics and editorial notes - Denny Scott editorial
As I was reading through some news stories this week about former United States President Donald Trump, I looked back on the past with nostalgia when editorial professionals would only rarely have to qualify statements in their stories, like “proofreading” and “editor’s notes”, and could instead rely on politicians of every level and stripe to be honest to the best of their ability.
Instead, however, we live in a world where Trump spews the same lies at back-to-back events, despite being corrected, and residents have to stand up and fact-check people vying for political positions at all-candidates meetings.
The lie of the week (day, hour, minute?) for Trump was that his most current peers in the former president business had, like him, taken presidential documents with them when they left the White House. He said this in defence of what was found at Mar-a-Lago when it was raided earlier this year.
I’ll spare you his ridiculous rhetoric and simply say that his claims were almost immediately refuted by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which said the former presidents in question (both Bushes, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) hadn’t done what Trump had suggested and that, in fact, it was NARA itself that moved the documents he was talking about in preparation for them to be stored at the presidential libraries of those Trump was accusing.
As a result, the story that I was reading, four paragraphs in, included a long, italicized entry explaining how Trump had been proven wrong.
Despite the fact that NARA had corrected him, Trump clung to the lie, telling it at another event.
Sure, politicians make plenty of mistakes. I mean, we have Clinton’s “the definition of is” situation, and Bush Junior’s mission accomplished gaffe, among others, but these weren’t designed to try and drive a wedge between the people of the United States. Trump uses these lies as a diversionary, divisive tactic, kind of like how Pierre Poilievre recently responded to criticism of him pandering, either knowing or unknowing, to a controversial group through tags in his social media. Instead of taking his lumps, he turned on Justin Trudeau and criticized the Prime Minister’s former wearing of blackface make-up.
This kind of behaviour results in journalists just like me (okay, maybe with a bit of a further reach than me, but still, kind of like me) having to write editor’s notes or italicized fact-checking paragraphs.
It also, apparently, results in people standing up at local all candidates’ meetings and correcting would-be municipal politicians spouting errors or ridiculous ideas.
And we’re not talking about those newcomers who seem to think that they can change the way councils operate (despite being only one voice of five to 11 council members) - that’s almost expected. We’re talking about people standing up and spouting ridiculous, unfounded theories or action plans that include making changes to policies that municipalities have zero control over.
This kind of behaviour isn’t new, but it certainly has become more prevalent. I couldn’t point at a local election cycle that required as much fact-checking as the current one has. On top of that, if we went back 12 years, I doubt anyone would have guessed that “Trump Fact Checker” would ever have become a title that we would all understand just by looking at it. Unfortunately, that’s what the news industry has become.
Fortunately for you, however, The Citizen, alongside other reputable news organizations, will adapt and will continue to do our best to let you know when someone is spouting lies or trying to sell falsehoods, or just not include said falsehoods in our reporting. We’re happy to do it. I just wish it wasn’t becoming such a big part of the job.