If it’s FRIDAY… U.S. retaliates against Iran-linked targets after American contractor was killed and others were wounded in Syria… President Biden, in Ottawa, holds a joint press conference with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau at 3:45 pm ET… Congress grills TikTok CEO… And remembering our colleague and friend, Vaughn Ververs (1969-2023).
But FIRST… Former President Donald Trump hijacked an entire week of political coverage.
With a single social-media post.
By claiming he would be arrested on Tuesday in the hush-money investigation in New York, Trump launched an entire week of coverage, speculation and analysis.
And guess what: As of publication time this Friday morning, there’s been no indictment or no arrest.
Now the answer can’t be that you shouldn’t cover Trump.
He’s a former president, a current presidential candidate and a frontrunner for the GOP nomination. What’s more, as NBC presidential historian Michael Beschloss notes, no previous ex-American president has ever been indicted.
It would be seismic news if he were indicted/arrested.
But you also can’t take him at his word.
What he says OFTEN isn’t true. Sometimes it is. Other times there’s a grain of truth. But so many times as we discovered during his presidency, he isn’t a reliable narrator.
So we as journalists need to find a middle ground: We need to cover his statements and pronouncements with disclaimers and asterisks.
For example: “Donald Trump announced that he would be arrested on Tuesday and called for protests. But his spokesman later said there had been no notification of any arrest. And the former president also has been known to make false or exaggerated claims.”
You have to take Donald Trump seriously; he’s a former president and a top presidential candidate.
You also have to take him literally; see what happened on Jan. 6, and also see his latest statement about “potential death & destruction” if charges are brought against him.
But here’s one more piece of advice: You have to take his word with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Remembering Vaughn Ververs (1969-2023)
Politics is often a mean business.
But Vaughn Ververs — our colleague, collaborator, confidante, and friend who passed away this week at the age of 54 — stood out because he was the exact opposite of mean.
He was compassionate. Easy to talk to. Considerate with his time. Always kind. A peacemaker when there was tension. A champion and mentor for colleagues. A contrarian, though with a heart of gold. A self-described “curious observer” of American politics. And most importantly, a devoted husband and father.
It was those qualities that endeared us to Vaughn and make us miss him terribly.
But it also was those qualities that reveal an important truth about many of the people who participate in politics, as well as those who cover and edit political news….