Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters. 

President-elect Donald Trump is not a normal politician, which is evidenced by his actions, statements, and tendency to make and promote outright lies. But Trump’s break from the norm would not be clear to readers who only glance at headlines, as most do. For months, media have helped normalize Trump with headlines that sanitize his ties to extremists, uncritically echo his lies, and whitewash his incendiary comments. As media prepare to cover a Trump administration, they must work harder to craft headlines that portray Trump’s actions and statements accurately.

Headlines about the appointments Trump has made to his cabinet and White House staff have helped sanitize his nominees, despite their bigoted rhetoric. After Trump appointed Stephen Bannon, the former head of, to serve as his chief strategist, newspapers labeled Bannon as a “Conservative flame-thrower,” a “conservative firebrand,” and a “tormenter of establishment GOP.” These descriptions downplay the fact that Bannon ran an unabashedly white nationalist and anti-Semitic website, as well as Bannon’s own history of alleged anti-Semitism. Even when The New York Times reported that Bannon “occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners,” the headline referred to him as “Combative, Populist Steve Bannon,” ignoring completely his remarks. When Trump appointed Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to serve as his national security adviser, headlines downplayed his Islamophobia and his conflicts of interest and branded him as someone who “brings experience and controversy” and is “not afraid to ruffle feathers.” While the headlines may be accurate, they do not give readers the essential information they need to know about the people who will have Trump’s ear.

Headlines have also left out important context about Trump’s lies. After Trump falsely claimed that he “worked hard” to keep a Ford plant “in Kentucky,” media promoted Trump’s spin in headlines, leaving out the fact that the plant in question was never going to close. After Trump lied in a tweet claiming that he would have “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” mainstream media uncritically echoedhim in their headlines and on social media. Trump is an unprecedented liar, and by simply echoing Trump’s statements, the headlines might as well have come from a Trump press release.

This problem persisted before the election as well. When Trump addressed his history with the birther movement, headlines failed to mention that Trump had not apologized for his years-long crusade to delegitimize President Obama and that he lied by asserting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had started the rumors that President Obama was born in Kenya.

In the run-up to the election, headlines also helped normalize Trump’s behavior, which would be unacceptable for anyone else, let alone a candidate for president. Following the release of a 2005 Access Hollywood video where Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, media headlines characterized the conversation as “lewd.” Lewd is correct, but it misses the point. Trump was talking about imposing himself physically on women without consent. That is sexual assault. Media shouldn’t hide behind creative adjectives to normalize this behavior.

Headlines are indisputably the most important part of an article. As The Washington Post reported, “roughly six in 10 people acknowledge that they have done nothing more than read news headlines in the past week,” and “that number is almost certainly higher than that, since plenty of people won’t want to admit to just being headline-gazers but, in fact, are.” By continually refusing to use headlines to call out Trump’s ties to extremists, incessant lying, and his atrocious behavior, media are normalizing his actions. There have been pleas from many in media to stop normalizing Trump. Headlines would be a good place to start.

IMAGE: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) and vice presidential candidate Mike Pence speak in an overflow room at a campaign event in Roanoke, Virginia, U.S., July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

  • Share this on Google+0
  • Share this on Linkedin0
  • Share this on Reddit0
  • Print this page
  • 278

86 responses to “How Mainstream Headlines Have Been Normalizing Donald Trump”

  1. neeceoooo says:

    I believe that dt is a product of the media and therefore, we all know where to put the blame when the sh1t hits the fan. The loudest voice in the room gets heard and what was the phrase coming from that loud voice, “crooked Hillary”. So all the american people heard was how crooked she from her emails to Benghazi. The interesting fact however, she was not crooked enough to continue all investigations, as soon as the election was over everything stopped.

    • Gerry Francis says:

      Yep. And all the chanting “Lock her up” is now being met by silence. Trump has crapped all over his supporters already. It should be interesting to see what other promises he breaks after he’s sworn in.

      • InformedVoter says:

        President Trump made the announcement about not pursuing HilLIARy’s crimes. He won when he made that statement. However, it did not and will not stop Gowdy etc from going after her. Then President Trump can take the high ground and say he wasn’t head hunting.
        Now the game has changed. HilLIARy has opened the door once more. By joining the soon failed recount effort, President Trump and have the head hunters go after HilLIARy with the excuse she couldn’t let the sleeping dog sleep.
        Even if President Trump only keeps 5% of his campaign promises, the country will be much better off that if HilLIARy had won.

        • iamproteus says:

          IV, I see you have fully embraced your pathetic ignorance. By all means, continue your highly successful pursuit of informing the world of that fact.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            IV fell for the laziest hoax I’ve ever seen – a badly-photoshopped set of receipts that “proved” that Hillary Clinton was paying money to pollsters to fake polls. It also showed she was paying the Sharia Law Center, the Black Panthers, and ACORN (which hasn’t existed for years), just so you know how dumb this guy is.

          • InformedVoter says:

            You probably are one of those who believed the faked polls that showed HilLIARy winning the election. I kept providing links to polls that she was not winning. I was ridiculed and insulted by you low information mushrooms who only visit and believe left-leaning sites. Well, how did your Thanksgiving crow taste?
            With the new president comes a new AG and DOJ direction. Can you hear the rhyme “London Bridges Falling Down”?

        • easthills says:

          Try all you want but you can’t prosecute Hillary when the President- Elect is more corrupt on every level. That’s why she won’t be pursued. Sorry Trump suckers and haters.

          • InformedVoter says:

            The FBI still has an open investigation on HilLIARy. When President Trump takes office, the FBI will have a green light to pursue HilLIARy. The reasons why HilLIARy has escaped being charged is that the AG and the DOJ would not go after her. The deal was that HilLIARy would appoint Obama to the SCOTUS.
            Now that President Trump has appointed a new AG and the Dems set it up that only 50 votes are needed for conformation (with Pence being 51), the new AG can make the decision.
            Can you hear the rhyme “London Bridges Falling Down” ringing in your ears?

        • I Am Helpy says:

          Yes it turns out it’s not actually possible to prosecute people for imaginary crimes. Who knew? I mean, not Republican voters obviously – you’re all morons.

      • dpaano says:

        Well, he’s already broken promises regarding building the wall; deporting 11M immigrants; screwing around with Medicare and Social Security; prosecuting Hillary, not hiring lobbyists or Wall Street bankers to his cabinet (“draining the swamp”), and I could go on and on. How much more does he have to do before they finally realize their mistake?

    • itsfun says:

      The investigations have not stopped. The foundation remains under investigation, and Hillary herself will continue to be investigated by the Congress for perjury and other lies. After her now going for the recount, it won’t surprise me if President-elect Trump decides to appoint a special prosecutor now.

      • InformedVoter says:

        You got that right. But President Trump doesn’t have to appoint a special prosecutor as long as the AG decided to pursue the charges. HilLIARy just couldn’t leave well enough alone. I think you are correct that President Trump may now go head hunting.

        • I Am Helpy says:

          “Any day now!” (repeat for thirty years)

          • InformedVoter says:

            Hey Helpy, The Pathetic Dummy and really proven to be a Liar,
            As I wait for your proof about Deb’s resignation, all I’m hearing is silence from you. Did your computer break?
            Have you heard that the election is over and alas, poor old HilLIARy is now still poor old HilLIARy?
            Just curious.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            I’m sorry that you’re still having this meltdown. It’s embarrassing to watch.

          • InformedVoter says:

            Hey Helpy, the Pathetic Dummy and really proven to be a Liar,
            I guess you haven’t heard the news … the election was held and President Trump defeated old HilLIARy. The margin is a mandate.
            You are probably still reviewing the left-leaning sites that show HilLIARy will win in a landslide and retake the Senate too.
            If you need directions to a crying room, don’t hesitate to ask.
            Did you see that in addition to having Ford Motor change it’s mind about relocating their KTP to Mexico, it now has been announced that Carrier will not move to Mexico either.
            Isn’t that great and President Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet and he’s already saved more jobs than Obama did in almost 8 years!

          • I Am Helpy says:

            See previous post.

          • InformedVoter says:

            Hey Helply the Pathetic Dummy and really proven to be a big Liar,
            No proof for the $15 billion profit and why Deb resigned?
            Here’s some shocking news “HilLIARy lost”!
            I know that if I produce sites that prove this that you will say you don’t believe them, just like the sites I provided that proved my comments.
            Just keep saying to yourself “just 8 more years … just 8 more years …”
            Still nothing but silence from you and nothing but tons of facts from me.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            See previous two posts.

      • I Am Helpy says:

        Where do you dipsticks get all this fake news?

  2. crane.tammie says:

    After 5 yrs I decided to abandon my previous job and i couldn’t be happier now… I started to work from home, over a site I stumbled upon online, for several hours a day, and I profit now much more than i did on my last work… My last month paycheck was for $9k… Superb thing about this job is that i have more free time for my kids…

  3. 1standlastword says:

    The truth is not going to prevent anything or change anything at this juncture!

    This is the honeymoon phase of an event nobody thought could happen.

    Certain media are not compelled to rain on the victory parade!

    Soon and very soon the disasters will begin to manifest around this administration and then the consequences of Trump will become a ‘felt-reality’ for us all and at that time the media will have to write the truth as we feel it happening to us–all around us.

    There is a component of American media that doesn’t educate because there is no ‘sizzle’ and were there is no ‘sizzle’ Americans remain asleep at the wheel and incurious, unmoved to investigate, to care.

    Trump is dressing the stage with his appointments for a great 21st.c disaster. The story will be told in due time.

    • dpaano says:

      It would be much nicer if the media would tell the truth in the headlines, especially if this is mostly what readers see first. Unlike them, I read the ENTIRE articles, headlines and all….and it’s pretty scary! Maybe the readers just don’t want to face the truth of their actions and what is going to happen based on electing this individual to run this country (and run it into the ground).

  4. Budjob says:

    How can the media possibility normalize an individual,that is not even close to being normal??

  5. Budjob says:

    If you are confused,just listen to your Nazi in chief,and,you will not only be confused,you will be terrified!

  6. PatrickHenry says:

    Hilarious, the Leftist Mainstream Media complaining about how Trump gets pampered?? LMAO.

    • Tajuanajmurphy says:

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj373d:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
      ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash373TopCreativeGetPay$97Hour ★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★✫★★::::::!mj373d:….,…….

    • Eleanore Whitaker says:

      Hilarious…the Right Maintstream evil bastards want us to accept their man who so openly lied and then denies what he says?

      The joke is that those who label anyone who plays by the rules, “liberal” automatically labels these labelers low down dirty criminal crooks. BAD is the opposite of good.

      These naive asshats were victims of Trump’s biggest CON job yet. He made them all believe he is going to be their crusader, their hero and their savior.

      Just the opposite is happening. Trump is surrounding himself with the biggest crooks in the country. The biggest bullies and haters in the world and this the CONs want you to believe is perfectly normal. It is. In mental hospitals.

    • The lucky one says:

      “Leftist Mainstream Media” owned primarily by right wing billionaires. Oh, the irony!

      • PatrickHenry says:

        Can you say, :George Soros?” Some of the wealthiest people support the Democrat-Socialist Party.

        • The lucky one says:

          You are correct that the very wealthy control the major media outlets to a large degree. Most are right leaning but a significant portion is left leaning and all, right or left, present a corporate friendly view of the news. This occurs in both how they present the news and what they choose not to address.

          It is as fair to refer to the Republican-Fascist party as the Democrat-Socialist party. To a large degree right & left are smoke and mirrors while the corporations and 1% continue to suck up an ever greater proportion of the commonwealth.

          • PatrickHenry says:

            Just Wealth Warfare. That is the Socialists view of Capitalism. Our Leftist Government has more than “sucked up OUR wealth.”

          • The lucky one says:

            “Actually, there’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won. We’re the ones that have gotten our tax rates reduced dramatically.” Warren Buffet

            If you look at the 400 highest taxpayers in the United States in 1992, the first year for figures, they averaged about $40 million of [income] per person. In the most recent year, they were $227 million per person — five for one. During that period, their taxes went down from 29 percent to 21 percent of income. So, if there’s class warfare, the rich class has won.

          • PatrickHenry says:

            Thanks for verifying increasingly more class warfare under Obama & the Democrat-Socialist Party.

          • The lucky one says:

            There has always been class warfare. As Buffet noted it is clearly the rich who are winning that war. Nothing in my statement even remotely suggests that we have had “increasingly more class warfare under Obama & the Democrat Party.” They pretty much just maintained the status quo of rich privilege and corporate rule.

  7. Box says:

    1) nobody complained at the normalization of Obama for 8 years, then Hillary. Why not?
    2) Maybe MSM has cashed in and given up the fight–Trump really is the Pres.
    3) Why normalizing? maybe because Trump isnt wrong, and groping and other battle-worm cliches are just that–meaningless cliches.

    The article seems to continue the fight. But nobody among them mentions something that so many made famous–“i’ll leave USA if Trump is elected!” But then, they all said it was only a joke. And, “i’m going to kill that scumbag and i dont care what the secret service thinks about it!!” Then, sorry I was only joking. OK…well why WOULD you stay in US if the country will sink into disaster next year? If you believe civilization will end as we know it, and a president deserves killing, why arent you packing for high ground as things are so bad? Why only the empty braying rhetroric all the time? If the Hillary, Obama and bernie people leave, 100% of the people would find peace in the result. So why arent you packing, since you too crave peace and cant seem to find it under Trump?

  8. itsfun says:

    President-elect Trump has already saved 1000 jobs in Indy. He hasn’t even spent one hour in office yet. Call him all the names you want, but he has already started to deliver on his promises.

  9. dpaano says:

    And what is really amazing is how the news media “protects” him despite the fact that he’s chastised them and called them names during the entire campaign! Apparently, they are much thicker skinned than he is because they just keep glossing over the many things that he’s doing or has done!

  10. The lucky one says:

    Yes Trump is an unabashed serial liar. That has been documented repeatedly. Nor can “those were just politics during an election” be seen as an excuse because he has continued to lie since winning the electoral vote but ” “roughly six in 10 people acknowledge that they have done nothing more than read news headlines in the past week,” is the real problem. that’s how a demagogue comes to power.

  11. Budjob says:

    I just wonder how many indivuduals that are espousing the virtues of Trump are on this site.Well folks,the end is near for your SS,Medicare,and Medicaid.It’s somewhat of a convoluted way of looking at it,as I will be affected by it also.However,I am great at saying,”I TOLD YOU SO” What a bunch of suckers.

  12. Budjob says:

    Come on orange man,FUCK all these Bastards that supported and voted for your Nazi ass.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.