Truth Trumps Bias


imageYou probably saw the headlines: “Trump kicks crying baby out of rally.”  And the followup stories, in which Trump denied kicking a baby out of his rally.

The URL of this Katie Couric article reads “donald-trump-defends-throwing-baby-out-of-rally” and the words “defends throwing baby out” appear in Google search results, though the article itself reads “defends asking baby to leave.”  (Who “asks” babies to do anything? Odd phrasing.)

I already believe that Trump is rearkably tone-deaf, but this news item represented a new level of cluelessness. I read the transcript and then watched the video, and both seemed to confirm the headlines.

After what seemed like due diligence, I accepted the “Trump kicks out baby” narrative.

But according The Washington Post — an orgainzation that Trump has in the past banned from his rallies on the grounds the Post is anti-Trump: “Trump is right: He didn’t kick a baby out of a campaign rally.

At first I thought this article would offer some kind of satirical, word-weaselsy “that depends on what you mean by ‘is'” wheedling. “Well, he didn’t use his foot, so saying he kicked a baby is inaccurate,” or “It wasn’t a ‘rally’ it was a ‘meeting'” or something similar, because I read the transcript and I saw the video — both made Trump look pretty bad.

Instead, the Post article contexualizes the words of a Toronto Star reporter who was sitting in the row behind the crying baby, who says that after Trump first encouraged her to stay, the baby’s mother on her own decided to leave. When Trump was saying “You can get that baby out of here. That’s all rght. Don’t worry,” the mother was already on her way out — he was affirming her decision to leave.

And then he said, “Actually, I was only kidding. You can get the baby out of here. That’s all right. Don’t worry. I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking?” He cupped his hand over his eyes to watch her leave. “That’s OK, people don’t understand. That’s OK.”

A joke? Possibly. An insensitive, heartless, ordinary-person-embarrassing remark? Possibly. Trump’s tone is eternally hard to read. But, to my eyes, it certainly was not an ejection — it was an unusually barbed endorsement of the mother’s own decision to depart.

One other salient fact is missing from all the pieces on babygate. Mom and baby, very much not kicked out, came back to their seat a bit later.

The baby was sucking a pacifier, silent.

No, Donald Trump did not eject a baby  –Daniel Dale, Toronto Star

I accepted the “Trump kicks out baby” narrative because it confirmed a negative opinion I had already decided about Donald Trump’s communication style. And the fact that when he speaks he doesn’t sound like all the other politicians is one of the reasons his supporters find him so appealing. And the quick spread of this baby narrative confirms what Trump supporters often say about the biases of the mainstream media.

I am more interested in understanding a complex truth than I am in simply confirming my own biases.

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