CNN goes out of its way to avoid the word “lie”   ◆

CNN headline following the first White House press briefing, where the press secretary outright lies several times:

White House press secretary attacks media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds

And from the article itself:

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said, contradicting all available data.

Aerial photos have indicated that former president Barack Obama’s first inauguration attracted a much larger crowd. Nielsen ratings show that Obama also had a bigger television audience.

Spicer said, without any evidence, that some photos were “intentionally framed” to downplay Trump’s crowd.

He also expressed objections to specific Twitter posts from journalists. And he said, “we’re going to hold the press accountable,” partly by reaching the public through social networking sites.

His statement included several specific misstatements of fact in addition to the overarching one.

What’s remarkable to me is all the ways CNN tries to say “he lied” without once using the word “lie”:

  • “for accurately reporting”
  • “contradicting all available data”
  • “without any evidence”
  • “specific misstatements of fact”
  • “In fact”
  • “actually”

At some point, some major media publication will have to use the word “lie”, clearly and directly, in reference to this administration’s blatant and demonstrably false statements.


The CNN television network made a choice not to broadcast the Spicer statement live. Instead, the statement was monitored and then reported on after the fact.

This is how the media will have to deal with this administration: To the extent possible, don’t televise live anything coming out from the White House. Wait, fact check, and then broadcast, indicating the lies where necessary.