A foreign reporter visiting the United States from Australia said she was stunned to see how much the American press edits Donald Trump’s public statements to make the president’s rambling and sometimes senseless statements appear coherent.
Writing in The Guardian, Lenore Taylor said that she has been a journalist for the last three decades and has seen her share of long and rambling press conferences with Australian prime ministers and world leaders. But she was not prepared for what she found while watching Trump speak to the press this week about a wall being built along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Taylor said she was struck by how much the reports of Trump “necessarily edits and parses his words, to force it into sequential paragraphs or impose meaning where it is difficult to detect.”
Taylor went on to say that Trump was explaining in length how powerful the concrete in the wall was and how it could withstand blowtorches, tunneling, and climbing. Trump went on to claim that the wall prototypes were tested by “20 world-class mountain climbers,” a claim that has been disputed by top competitive mountain climbers who said they know nothing of the wall being tested from those in their ranks.
The Australian journalist went on to say that she believed the heavy editing needed to make sense of Trump’s statements was a disservice to those who consumed the media.
“In writing about this not-especially-important or unusual press conference I’ve run into what US reporters must encounter every day,” Taylor wrote. “I’ve edited skittering, half-finished sentences to present them in some kind of consequential order and repeated remarks that made little sense.
“In most circumstances, presenting information in as intelligible a form as possible is what we are trained for. But the shock I felt hearing half an hour of unfiltered meanderings from the president of the United States made me wonder whether the editing does our readers a disservice.”
Edited clips of Trump’s statement on the wall circulated through media this week, including Trump’s own campaign that shared a heavily cut version of his remarks.
President Trump toured the border wall yesterday: "It really is virtually impenetrable…this wall can't be climbed."
The wall is being built! pic.twitter.com/7qs2ctbr9A
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) September 19, 2019
Lenore Taylor is not the first journalist to criticize Trump’s rambling and often incoherent public statements. The president is regularly criticized for statements that seem to make little sense on their face, including Trump’s response to a report that he pressed the Ukrainian president and its government to gather dirt on Joe Biden. As Vox noted, Trump’s response to the report was filled with contradictions and obvious falsehoods, including his claim that the whistle-blower who first reported the threats — whose identity is unknown to Trump — was a partisan.