The editor Liev Schreiber was portrayed in the movie Spotlight by Marty Baron, chronicling The Boston GlobeBoston Globe's exposure of pervasive abuse by Catholic priests. After leaving The Globe, Baron began another tough task: leading The Washington Post during Donald Trump's tumultuous presidency.
His time spent at the helm of the paper ended with his retirement in February. In an interview with Baron this week for Influencers reflects on Trump's legacies in news and politics.
While Baron led three major newspapers including The Miami Herald during his distinguished career, he never faced a challenge that would be covering Trump's administration. The Washington Post made fact-checking a signature area of its coverage under Baron, and documented 30,573 false claims from Trump in just four years.
Baron says that Trump's most pervasive false claim — that the 2020 election was compromised based on widespread voter fraud — is not only wrong but also a fiasco for our democracy.
The persistent denial of both the 2020 election results and the severity of the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 is dangerous to the legitimacy of our democracy ': Baron, author of the forthcoming book 'Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and The Washington Post, says.
Trump has never formally conceded the 2020 races, which he lost to over 7 million votes. And more than 60 lawsuits brought by Trump and his allies went nowhere, due to a lack of merit.
In recent months, Trump has continued to falsely claim the election was corrupt.
When it comes to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Donald Trump has alternated between minimizing the violence and suggesting that far-left anti-fascism activists known as Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters played a role in the unrest. In fact, hundreds of videos from the day show Trump supporters listening to the then-President at a rally outside the White House before walking down the National Mall to Capitol Hill.
On Jan. 6 more than 100 Capitol police officers were injured in D.C. and Capitol police departments. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died a stroke and suffered in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and four more officers who responded to the attack died by suicide.
Baron notes the extensive video exists still...'you have a president saying that they were hugging and kissing the police — that's just ridiculous. He, however, added that Trump's ability to create his own alternative reality 'is pretty disturbing and incredibly remarkable.
While many of Trump's statements were demonstrably false, The Washington Post and other news outlets have wrestled with whether to call them lies or not.
'Trump really changed things because of the frequency of his falsehoods and his lies and his, or what have you said?
But, Trump said, it was tough to prove that Baron knew his statements were false. He was living in his own reality, Baron said. In many ways, it seems to be a lie?
A lot of other news outlets came to different conclusions. The New York Times began to call the statements of Trump's last words, culminating in a 2021 investigation of his persistent repetition of lies. Other outlets, like CNN, have also used the term for many falsehoods to describe Trump's own lies.
The Washington Post, with a different approach, has chosen more often to look at Trump's false or misleading claims.
A reason behind the policy, Baron notes: "When you start using those words, people focus more on your language than they do on the fact that the information itself is false."
Regardless of whether news outlets called Trump's statements lies or simply misinformation, his presidency coincided with an increase in the press known as the Trump bump.
Trump often took credit for the surge in interest in news and bragged that the media would be flat without him. Since he left the office, viewership on mainstream media outlets has also increased.
Baron dismisses the idea that Trump's term in office benefited media in every way.
I don't think it was a bull market for the publics view of the media, he said of Trump and his allies' continued attacks on the industry. Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.
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