The editor of the far left Australian Guardian, Lenore Taylor, filed a ‘report’ from the United States wholly devoted to Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks to journalists at Otay Mesa, California, about the new border wall currently under construction at that locality.
As a political reporter for most of the last 30 years I have … endured many long and rambling political press conferences with Australian prime ministers and world leaders.
But watching a full presidential Trump press conference while visiting the US this week I realised how much the reporting of Trump necessarily edits and parses his words, to force it into sequential paragraphs or impose meaning where it is difficult to detect…
In writing about this not-especially-important or unusual press conference I’ve run into what US reporters must encounter every day. 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.
I’ve read so many stories about his bluster and boasting and ill-founded attacks, I’ve listened to speeches and hours of analysis, and yet I was still taken back by just how disjointed and meandering the unedited president could sound…
I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.
You get the drift. Standard boilerplate. One other thing: Taylor wasn’t actually there. She watched the press conference “by chance from my New York hotel room.” Maybe she was half asleep over there – like Edwina Bartholomew. Because I watched the same press conference (here). The President was not in the least bit incoherent and everything he said made perfect sense. The rough and ready setting and complex engineering subject-matter didn’t lend themselves to the Soaring Rhetoric made famous by Trump’s predecessor and his long-suffering word-butler, the teleprompter. But Taylor’s sketch is entirely fake and born of nothing more than malice and, probably, boredom.