WASHINGTON ― In case you strangely thought otherwise, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is not going to call out President Donald Trump for his baseless attacks against the media, even if those outbursts involve claims that the media is covering up terrorist attacks.
On Monday, Trump asserted that terrorism in the United States and Europe is so out of control, “it’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported, and in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.”
Fact-checking website PolitiFact rated that statement a “pants on fire” lie.
When Ryan was asked on Tuesday about the false claim that journalists are covering up major terrorist attacks and whether he was concerned with Trump’s “grasp of the truth,” the speaker almost seemed to lend credibility to Trump’s argument.
“Look: I’m going to do my job, I’ll let you guys do yours with respect to how you report or what you don’t report,” Ryan said.
“The problem is we do have a war on terror in front of us, we do have ISIS trying to conduct terrorist attacks across the globe,” he continued. “This is a real serious problem, and what I’m focused on is doing our job and making sure the law enforcement authorities, that our military, have the tools they need to keep us safe.”
But pressed whether it hurts U.S. credibility around the world when Trump makes false claims like this, Ryan again refused to cross Trump.
“I can’t speak to whether you’re over- or under-reporting something. That’s your job. I’ll stick with mine,” he said.
Ryan’s transformation from someone willing to call out Trump’s more egregious transgressions to some someone who is perfectly on board with the president hasn’t always been a straight line. The speaker has, on occasion, criticized Trump. He just isn’t going to stick his neck out there for a claim that the media is ignoring terrorist attacks.