The mainstream media continue to obsess about what they describe as President Donald Trump’s war on truth.
CNN has built an entire branding campaign, “Facts First,” around the idea that Trump is “pushing conspiracy theories” and “lying to the American people.” The Washington Post has kept a running tally of what it says are over three thousand “false or misleading claims so far” by President Trump since he took office on January 20, 2017.
This line of attack has opened the mainstream media up to criticism, both from Trump and the public, for two reasons.
One is that the mainstream media themselves are guilty of pushing “fake news” on a daily basis — false stories or exaggerations that almost always err on the side of liberals against conservatives. The other is that the same media not only ignored but actively defended many of Barack Obama’s lies during his eight years in office.
In addition, the media have broadened the definition of “lies” to include things Trump says that are actually true, at least in part, or which are at least defensible opinion.
The most prominent example is the ongoing controversy about “Spygate.” Last March, the media said that Trump was lying when he said that Obama had his “wires tapped” (with the “air quotes”). But more and more evidence has emerged to support Trump’s claims of improper surveillance.
Still, there is no denying that Trump sometimes distorts the truth. I first flagged this problem long before Trump had been elected, in my 2016 book See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle.
I wrote about Trump’s “penchant for exaggeration and fabulist tales,” and warned that America needed to “restore the health of our democracy by restoring truth to its rightful place in American political discourse,” starting with the left, but including the right.
Yet what Trump’s critics fail to understand is that even with all of his factually-challenged boasts and tweets, he is still seen as trustworthy by his supporters.
That is not, as liberals or Never Trump conservatives claim, because Trump supporters are mesmerized by a cult of personality. Rather, it is because Trump, more than any president in recent memory, follows through on his promises. He has that rare credibility that comes with keeping his word.
This week, for example, President Trump canceled a highly-anticipated and “historic” summit with North Korea that was to have been held next month in Singapore. Trump’s decision was a shock. And yet he had told the world for months that he was willing to walk away, and that he would do so if the conditions for a deal — including his demand for full denuclearization — were not met.
Trump meant what he said — and wanted to show that he did.
Likewise, earlier this month, Trump canceled the faulty nuclear deal with Iran, just as he said he would do. And he moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he had promised. All of his predecessors, dating back to Bill Clinton, made the same promise, but only Trump kept it.
As I traveled in Israel last week, I heard the repeated refrain from Israelis — often in awe: “Hu omer ve’oseh” — “He says it and does it.” Trump walks the talk.
That, it turns out, is the credibility that matters most to voters. It is not that people do not know that Trump stretches the truth. Trump supporters have their eyes wide open. But his voters care less about how many Pinnochios he earns and more about whether he cuts their taxes and builds a border wall.
In that sense, he is a refreshing contrast from politicians who claimed, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” and the media who let them do it.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.