Should the press report Donald Trump’s obvious falsehoods as lies? NPR featured a discussion this morning in which two arguments were made against calling them lies. First, if the press called them lies, it would appear partisan and the press would lose credibility. Second, to be a lie, one has to know the statement is false, and it is not possible to get in someone’s head.
The first argument is unacceptable. The press should not refrain from telling the truth because people would doubt its credibility. This is akin to not telling the truth because advertisers would worry about loss of audience. It is entirely contrary to what the press is supposed to stand for.
The second argument is overbroad. Demonstrating a lie frequently depends upon circumstantial evidence.
But there is a third consideration. When Donald Trump says that his inauguration crowd was larger than Obama’s or that 3 of the 11 million undocumented persons somehow managed to vote illegally. He may actually believe it. He may be in the grips of a mental illness fueling delusions. This leaves the press with the possibility of reporting that Donald Trump is a liar or that he is delusional.