I do not like Donald Trump at all. Let’s make that clear. But what I also don’t like is intentionally misleading people in order to win them over to your point of view. That is exactly what many have done in response to some comments made by Trump about military veterans who commit suicide due to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Trump was asked whether he would support and fund a program that would aim to assist veterans with PTSD, suicide prevention, and other mental health issues.
So how did much of the media report his answer?
CNN’s headline said “Donald Trump: Military suicides happen to servicemembers who ‘can’t handle it’.”
Politico put out a story whose title is “Trump appears to suggest veterans with PTSD are not ‘strong’.”
Here’s what Salon ran with: “Draft-dodger Donald Trump: Veterans with PTSD ‘can’t handle’ combat.” They added a nice touch poisoning the well with the draft-dodger comment. And while CNN quoted three words and Politico only quoted one, Salon chose to take the middle ground and quote two whole words in their title.
Here’s what the only part of the article addressing Trump’s answer said:
Donald Trump on Monday suggested veterans with PTSD “can’t handle” the psychological toll of combat. The Republican nominee — who benefitted from four deferments from the draft during the Vietnam War — was apparently trying to convey sympathy for veterans with PTSD, but tripped over his own faux-machismo.
Asked by an audience member if he’d support a “more holistic approach to solve the problems of veteran suicide and PTSD,” Trump responded that “a lot of people can’t handle it (combat), and they see horror stories, they see events that you couldn’t see in a movie, nobody would believe it.”
“When people come back from war and combat and they see maybe what the people in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it,” he told the audience of veterans at a town hall-style event in Virginia hosted by the Retired American Warriors PAC. “We need … mental health help and medical.”
That doesn’t sound that great for Trump, but this is the full response by Donald Trump to the question about providing veterans with mental health support:
Yes, I would. Look, we need that so badly and when you talk about the mental health problems–when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it. And they see horror stories, they see events you couldn’t see in a movie, nobody would believe it. Now we need a mental health help and medical; and it’s one of the things I think is least addressed and–is one of the things that I hear like your question–is one of the things I hear the most about when I go around and talk to the veterans. So we’re going to have a very, very robust–very, very robust–level of performance having to do with mental health. We are losing so many great people that could be taken care of if they had proper care.
What exactly is wrong with that statement? I would have liked for him to have mentioned that we wouldn’t be having this problem if the government weren’t waging unnecessary wars to begin with, though that may be for a different conversation. But if anyone other than Trump gave the answer that he did, people would be showering it with all sorts of praise. After all, veteran suicides and PTSD are serious problems and the VA (Veterans Affairs) is well-known to be an absolute mess.
By the way, he received an applause after he said, “Yes, I would.”
It only took me a few minutes to transcribe Trump’s answer to the question. So why would Salon writer Brendan Gauthier chop what he said up to the point that it seems like he said something different?
This was not an accident and it was not due to sloppiness. He knew exactly what he was doing and he lied. His goal was to intentionally mislead people because heaven forbid people make up their own mind about things. I know what his defense would be: it’s justified because we need to do whatever we can to stop Trump.
If that’s what Gauthier or anyone wants to do, okay, but please do not ever mention yourself and journalism in the same sentence. And don’t forget, if it’s okay for him to do, it also has to be okay for the other side to do it. I’m sure Gauthier would be perfectly fine with someone lying about someone he liked or approved of. I’m sure he’d be okay with someone taking a few words of one of his articles completely out of context to make him look bad (actually, you don’t even need to do that to make Gauthier look bad).
If Trump is so bad (and I think he is), why do so many people resort to twisting his words around or simply making things up about him? It’s because people like Gauthier have the ideological intellect of an empty bucket. Trump falls outside of their paradigm, so therefore he’s wrong. Will they give more of an explanation than that? Don’t hold your breath.
What makes this even sadder is that this approach won’t even work. It’s going to backfire on them. Salon has the video of Trump’s answer embedded in the article, so it takes absolutely no effort to see that Gauthier is lying. Now this won’t matter to Trump haters; they are going to hate him regardless. On the other hand, this will only embolden Trump supporters and prove them right when they say that the media is waging a war against him. What’s worse for the anti-Trump folks is that those on the fence will see right through their charade and it very well might push them to start supporting Trump if only because they do not want to take sides with liars and manipulators.
Trump is bad. There is no doubt about that in my mind. There is plenty to criticize him for, so let’s try to not resort to lying.