Who are you going to believe, the president or your own ears and eyes?
I’m asking, because the White House has altered the record of the July 16 Helsinki press conference between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
The White House, pressed about this for a week, has said the alteration was not intended and the record was corrected. But I just looked at th
e transcript on the White House website, and it still misrepresents the truth.
In real life, as recorded on livestreams of the event (and what you, like me, may have watched in real time), Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asked a key question: “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?” Putin replied: “Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”
Trump’s and Putin’s doctored version edits Mason’s question as if it was not asked.
Yes, the government is re-imagining the truth.
When the mainstream media cover news, they rarely report stenographer-style what occurred from start to finish. Links provide complete transcripts. The media’s job is to tell the story, selecting what to emphasize, what to include, what to leave out — decisions guided by standards of sound journalism but of course open to criticism.
In contrast, the government’s “official” version should be relied on as the unvarnished, unaltered, complete truth.
Instead, as The Atlantic spells out in an even-handed but hair-raising piece by Uri Friedman, the “official” version is missing the essential exchange when Putin replied that he acted to help Trump win.
Now, Trump has doubled-down on his denigration of the media, urging people not to believe what they see and hear. He is boasting that he is so tough on Russia that Putin wouldn’t want him in office. That’s exactly the opposite of what Putin told the world at the Helsinki press conference – unless you’re reviewing the “official” record of what transpired.
The White House said the alteration by omission was not sinister and would be corrected. So when will it be corrected? Are you scared for our democracy? I am.