The RTDNA Voice of the First Amendment Task Force today cautioned the public about a new Facebook video series, “Real News,” which appears to be an effort by President Trump and his supporters to promote their accomplishments while discrediting the work of responsible journalists.
The President and his surrogates often use the term “fake news” to describe news reports they don’t like. In the first installment of “Real News,” Mr. Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara, wife of son Eric Trump, tells viewers, "I bet you haven't heard about all the accomplishments the president had this week because there's so much fake news out there." She then goes on to list a series of presidential events and announcements that she claims the news media failed to report.
Ms. Trump, appearing on camera in front of a backdrop displaying Trump campaign logos, talked about the President donating his quarterly salary, his announcement of the impending opening of a new Apple parts plant in Wisconsin, and economic growth, among other things. She did not mention, however, her father-in-law’s tweeted announcement banning transgendered people from the military, the resignation of his chief of staff, or the Senate majority’s failure to pass a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act.
What’s more, Ms. Trump’s implication that the stories she highlighted in the video had not been reported by traditional news outlets turned out to be untrue.
“While this new video series certainly is ‘real,’ because it clearly does exist, it most certainly is not ‘news’ in the traditional journalistic sense. Our concern is that some viewers may not understand that distinction,” said Dan Shelley, RTDNA Incoming Executive Director, who spearheads the task force. “We caution the members of the public who choose to watch ‘Real News’ to view it with a discerning eye, just as we urge them to evaluate the veracity and completeness of news that is reported by the actual news media.”
Since the inception of the Internet and social media, administrations have used them as tools to bypass reporters and communicate directly with the public. The Obama White House was particularly adept in this regard. The difference with the Trump administration’s “Real News” is that, at least in its first installment, it discredits the mainstream media by falsely suggesting that responsible journalists ignored certain news stories, and because the series positions itself as a viable substitute for conscientious journalism.
“There’s no question Lara Trump, and any other surrogate or supporter of the President, has a First Amendment right to produce and distribute videos such as ‘Real News’. In fact, we defend their right to do so. We are merely asking those who watch it to recognize it for what it is – political puffery, not news,” added Shelley.
RTDNA formed the Voice of the First Amendment Task Force to defend against threats to the First Amendment and news media access, and to bridge the divide between responsible journalists and those who don’t like, or don’t understand, the news media. People wishing to support RTDNA’s efforts may reach out to the task force by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.