“A lie, is a lie, is a lie,” Rather wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “Journalism, as I was taught it, is a process of getting as close to some valid version of the truth as is humanly possible. And one of my definitions of news is information that the powerful don’t want you to know.” Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker’s comments on how the paper plans to report on the president-elect’s “future (likely?) lies is deeply disturbing,” Rather added.
In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Baker said that during Trump’s upcoming administration, “I’d be careful about using the word ‘lie.’ It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.” By using the word, you’re “ascribing a moral intent,” running the risk that “you’re not being objective,” he added.
Baker did concede that Trump’s statements may be “questionable.” But he said that reporters should state the facts and leave readers to determine if Trump is lying.
Trump has not been a big fan of the Journal. “I think it’s a piece of garbage,” he said earlier last year. “Don’t worry, it’ll be out of business like all the rest of them very soon.”
Rather concluded in his Facebook post that there was “no joy” in taking issue with the Journal’s chief editor. “His newspaper is a publication for which I have deep respect for the overall quality of its reporting,” Rather added. “But, as I have said before and will say as long as people are willing to listen, this is a gut check moment for the press. We are being confronted by versions of what are claimed to be “the truth” that resemble something spewed out by a fertilizer-spreader in a wind tunnel.”