Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Feb. 1, 2023

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Jayne: Trump lies a lot; it’s not unpatriotic to point that out

By , Columbian Opinion Page Editor

It was a pleasant conversation, a productive conversation.

A reader called to complain that most of the syndicated columnists on our Opinion pages write negatively about President Trump, echoing some emails we have received. The complaint has merit; many media outlets struggle to find conservative commentary during these unusual times. But the more important issue is what makes these times unusual.

Because as we were talking, I said, “It can be difficult to find a balance because President Trump frequently lies,” to which the caller quickly responded, “Well, I don’t agree with that.”

So we … wait, what? You don’t agree that Trump frequently lies? These are contentious times, but I would think one thing all reasonable people can agree upon is that President Trump has a truthiness problem.

You might like the president and you might agree with his travel ban and his plan to build a border wall and his approach to North Korea. You might think he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize and that his critics are simply bitter Hillary apologists. You might even genuinely believe he will make America great again.

Those are matters of policy and opinion, and arguments can be made on both sides. But disputing the fact that President Trump has a fleeting acquaintance with the truth is to ignore the evidence.

One of the first claims he made upon taking office was that his inauguration was the most watched in history. This was disproven by evidence, which led to one of his acolytes defending the use of “alternative facts.” It has been downhill since then.

Trump soon claimed that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote because of massive voter fraud, without offering or finding evidence. He lied about a meeting with Russians — and his own lawyers admit he lied. He said firing the FBI director had nothing to do with the Russia investigation, then said on national TV that it did, then claimed that it didn’t. He said he is “a very stable genius.”

OK, OK, that last one is open to interpretation; it is an opinion. But of the more than 500 Trump statements vetted by Politifact, 32 percent have been rated as false and 15 percent are “pants on fire.” Last month, The Washington Post reported that Trump had made 3,001 false or misleading claims in his first 466 days in office.

And, according to Lesley Stahl of CBS, Trump explained to her why he criticizes the media: “He said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.’ ” Very stable, indeed.

Most important is Trump’s assertion that his campaign did not collude with Russia and that the “witch hunt” of an investigation has turned up no wrongdoing. But the investigation has resulted in five guilty pleas and nearly 20 indictments. Whether the campaign is guilty, I don’t know; but I do know the country would be in a better place if the president had said, “These are serious allegations. Let’s get to the bottom of it.”

Trying to see clearly

All of this plays a role in the opinion columns we publish in The Columbian. If we want to argue policy, there is room for disagreement. We have added a local columnist who writes from a conservative point of view; we frequently publish columns from conservatives Debra Saunders, Marc Thiessen and Jay Ambrose, plus others; we have written editorials praising Trump when he is on the right side of an issue that pertains to the state of Washington.

But expecting The Columbian or any other outlet to publish items simply because they are supportive of the president is expecting us to abdicate our duty to publish the truth. When we stop agreeing on this, then our nation is in serious trouble.

Some readers believe the public — and the media — should support the president of the United States no matter what. But normalizing Trump’s lying would chip away at the very foundation of our nation, as does the suggestion that a president can pardon himself.

Blindly supporting President Trump would not mean we are patriots. It would simply mean we are blind.