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How Mainstream Headlines Have Been Normalizing Donald Trump

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How Mainstream Headlines Have Been Normalizing Donald Trump

Pence, Trump, Fake News

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 Breitbart.com, 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



  1. neeceoooo November 29, 2016

    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.

    1. Gerry Francis November 30, 2016

      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.

      1. InformedVoter November 30, 2016

        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.

        1. iamproteus November 30, 2016

          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.

          1. I Am Helpy November 30, 2016

            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.

          2. InformedVoter December 2, 2016

            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”?

        2. easthills November 30, 2016

          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.

          1. InformedVoter December 2, 2016

            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?

        3. I Am Helpy November 30, 2016

          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.

      2. dpaano November 30, 2016

        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?

        1. CPANY November 30, 2016

          They’ll realize it when it’s too late.

        2. GODBlessRealAmerica#1 December 1, 2016

          I know it hurts that PRESIDENT TRUMP WON Too bad go cry, leave the country and march and wav your Liberal hateful fist on high loser. You are pathetic

          PRESIDENT TRUMP WON AMERICA WON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    2. itsfun November 30, 2016

      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.

      1. InformedVoter November 30, 2016

        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.

        1. I Am Helpy November 30, 2016

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

          1. InformedVoter December 2, 2016

            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.

          2. I Am Helpy December 2, 2016

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

          3. InformedVoter December 2, 2016

            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!

          4. I Am Helpy December 2, 2016

            See previous post.

          5. InformedVoter December 2, 2016

            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.

          6. I Am Helpy December 2, 2016

            See previous two posts.

      2. I Am Helpy November 30, 2016

        Where do you dipsticks get all this fake news?

  2. crane.tammie November 29, 2016

    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 November 29, 2016

    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.

    1. dpaano November 30, 2016

      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).

      1. 1standlastword November 30, 2016

        I think you’re on to something!

        For Trumpies, reading below the headlines in like the aversion a high-school dunce has to looking at his report card

        The anticipation of repeating the 5th grade and all…….pretty foreboding!

        1. dpaano December 1, 2016

          Mainly because he’s one of them despite all his so-called education (much of which is questionable at best)! I don’t trust anyone that doesn’t read a newspaper….the WHOLE newspaper….at least once in a while! I think that was the problem with the Trump “followers.” They failed to read the newspapers that told about all the lies and BS that he was spewing out and only believed what they heard from FAUX News on TV or some other rightwing media TV source! How can you make valuable decisions about a candidate if you stay uninformed?

          1. dpaano December 1, 2016

            That’s interesting since all of the fact checking sites have always said that the most lies were told by the right wing media sources like FAUX News, Breitbart, etc., as well as the many lies that Trump told during his campaign. But, as I’ve always said, you people are so uninformed and brainwashed, you failed to see the truth. Actually, I don’t think you’d know the truth if it hit you in the face! In the meantime, crawl back into your little hole and wait for the manure to hit the flying blades because it definitely is going to happen with your “leader” in charge! When it does, don’t come whining to those of us who were intelligent to see the truth vs. the BS you were given!

          2. GODBlessRealAmerica#1 December 1, 2016

            I know it hurts that PRESIDENT TRUMP WON Too bad go cry and march and wav your Liberal hateful fist on high loser.

            PRESIDENT TRUMP WON AMERICA WON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


          3. GODBlessRealAmerica#1 December 1, 2016

            LIBERAL LIARS!!!

  4. Budjob November 29, 2016

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

    1. I Am Helpy November 29, 2016

      Thanks, for the random words, and punctuation%%??

      Sometimes I’m almost convinced you’re trying to communicate.

      1. Gerry Francis November 30, 2016

        You mean like the over use of apostrophe’s? Check between ‘Thanks’ and ‘for the random words’. Guess you voted for The Donald.

        1. Carole Moore November 30, 2016

          You’re a dork, the punctuation is correct…

          1. dpaano November 30, 2016

            Not actually……

          2. Carole Moore November 30, 2016

            Yes, actually

          3. Gerry Francis November 30, 2016

            Nope. Where did you go to school. Or maybe you didn’t.

          4. Carole Moore November 30, 2016

            A lot more years than you, my dear!!

          5. Gerry Francis December 1, 2016

            Left back a lot?

          6. Carole Moore December 1, 2016

            No, I wasn’t in your class sweetie, I graduated with three degrees, how ’bout you???

          7. Gerry Francis December 5, 2016

            Certainly are lacking common sense.

          8. Carole Moore December 5, 2016

            Only according to you dear, and that ain’t saying much…

        2. I Am Helpy November 30, 2016

          The joke


    2. Box November 30, 2016

      Easy! just do it. And, they just came off of 8 years of similar practice so its no problem to go again. Thats how.

      1. itsfun November 30, 2016

        Already has saved 1000 jobs in America. Not even in office yet. Go President-elect Trump.

        1. I Am Helpy November 30, 2016

          Yes already saved those jobs that weren’t going anywhere! Also, he’s shipped a bunch of jobs – real ones, not imaginary – to Mexico.

        2. johninPCFL December 1, 2016

          Indiana Governor Pence paid Carrier $7500 per job to keep them.

          1. dpaano December 1, 2016

            Agreed, plus he threatened to take away their aerospace contracts if they moved, plus the fact that he told them he would charge them 35% tariff to bring any of their goods in the U.S. I can assure you, that would change the minds of small companies like Carrier! They can ill afford to pay this type of tariff or to lose valuable contracts. But, the problem lies in the fact that Trump isn’t going to be able to do this with ALL the corporations threatening to move….if so, he’ll be busy doing nothing BUT this!

      2. Budjob November 30, 2016

        Goodbye SS,goodbye Medicare,goodbye Medicaid,and if you are elderly and supported this fucking Fascist,you deserve it!

  5. Budjob November 30, 2016

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

    1. dpaano November 30, 2016

      Oh, they listen all right, but they’ve been seriously brainwashed to believe everything they read or hear….every lie, every conspiracy theory….everything! Not sure what’s going to happen once they realize, if they ever do, that their so-called “savior” is not going to do anything that he promised them and is going to actually end up costing them money in the long run!

  6. PatrickHenry November 30, 2016

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

    1. Tajuanajmurphy November 30, 2016

      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:….,…….

      1. Gerry Francis November 30, 2016

        You’re full of crap. Post your lies elsewhere.

    2. Eleanore Whitaker November 30, 2016

      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.

    3. The lucky one November 30, 2016

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

      1. PatrickHenry December 1, 2016

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

        1. The lucky one December 1, 2016

          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.

          1. PatrickHenry December 1, 2016

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

          2. The lucky one December 1, 2016

            “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.

          3. PatrickHenry December 2, 2016

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

          4. The lucky one December 2, 2016

            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 November 30, 2016

    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?

    1. Carole Moore November 30, 2016

      You should move in with itsfun, you’d make perfect roommates….

    2. The lucky one November 30, 2016

      “groping and other battle-worm cliches are just that–meaningless cliches”
      So then it’s okay with you if I grope your wife, daughter, sister or mother? Or is that only allowable if I am a celebrity?

    3. I Am Helpy November 30, 2016

      “1) nobody complained about non-crazy people? Why not?!?”

  8. itsfun November 30, 2016

    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.

    1. Carole Moore November 30, 2016

      OMG, you are such a sad and gullible individual…. have fun living in lala land…

      1. itsfun November 30, 2016

        You don’t think saving 1000 jobs is a good thing?

        1. Budjob November 30, 2016

          You are one fucked up individual.Would you like to buy a bridge?

          1. itsfun November 30, 2016

            You don’t believe in saving American jobs or families? Your filthy mouth is a sure sign of just how much class you have. Your filth is just a sign of a weak mind trying to express itself.

          2. dpaano November 30, 2016

            Itsfun…..all he did was save 1000 jobs…..what about the jobs of many of the unemployed that he said he would put back to work.. If he takes each company that threatens to move to Mexico and changes their minds about moving……he’ll be well into his 90’s! What he promised to do is impossible and even the learned people who KNOW have said the same thing.

    2. Budjob November 30, 2016

      More than likely,it will be at a cost to the hourly personnel,as in a serious reduction in hourly wages,and benefits.I know first hand,been there and felt that

    3. johninPCFL December 1, 2016

      So we learn tonight that Trump had little to do with “saving” the jobs, that Pence kept them in Indiana by buying them with taxpayer money. All of Trump’s bluster on the campaign trail did nothing, it was good-old cash doled out in a payback scheme that has the taxpayers of Indiana on the hook for 3/4 of a million a year for a decade.
      So, the 1000 “saved” jobs cost Indiana taxpayers $7500 each.

  9. dpaano November 30, 2016

    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 November 30, 2016

    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 November 30, 2016

    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 November 30, 2016

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


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