Great piece in the Chronicle of Higher Ed today about the idea that journos hate “lie,” the “l-word” journalism prof and book author Ben Yagoda says. Although it’s fun to bash Donald Trump (“[Hilary’s been] fighting ISIS [her] entire adult life!” Really? Is she 25 years old?), Yagoda puts together the two elements that give journos pause when using the word: a lie is an error, yes, but also a known, conscious act (not a mistake alone, or an exaggeration, but an error that was given with full knowledge of the truth).
We journalists don’t like using “lie” because we can’t really know what’s in someone’s head, memory, thoughts. So we have to be careful if we ever use it.
Yagoda isn’t the first journo to come out and use the L-word on Trump. He applauds the NY Times for having stepped-up and done so. On the Media has also stood firm on that ground, with the host Bob Garfield saying that journos must call a demagogue a demagogue.
It’s telling, however, that Molly Ball of the Atlantic has refrained from this. She feels, as I do, that it’s best just to show what was said and what the truth is and let the public see it.