Being chiefly responsible for one bogus narrative in a day is bad enough for a professional newsroom. Being responsible for two fabrications in the same morning is inexcusable.
President Trump was in Japan this weekend to discuss trade with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The president also met with Japanese business leaders in Tokyo to discuss auto manufacturing in the U.S.
On Monday, CNN published a story that included this snide headline: “Trump asks Japan to build cars in the U.S. It already does.”
“President Trump wants Japan Inc to ‘try’ building vehicles in the U.S.,” read the story’s opening lines.
The report added in what its author must’ve thought was a solid burn, “Japanese automakers … already have huge factories in the U.S. that churn out millions of cars each year.”
Slate followed CNN’s lead, publishing an article with the headline: "Trump Begs Japanese Automakers to Build Their Cars in America, Which They Already Do."
Trump's address before Japanese business leaders, the Slate story concluded, raises serious “questions about his familiarity with basic facts about the American economy.”
These would indeed be great owns and real questions were it not for the fact that the president’s address to Japanese business leaders definitely shows he’s aware they build cars here in the U.S.
“When you want to build your auto plants, you will have your approvals almost immediately," Trump said Monday. "When you want to expand your plants, you will have your approvals almost immediately."
He added, “And in the room, we have a couple of the great folks from two of the biggest auto companies in the world that are building new plants and doing expansions of other plants. And you know who you are, and I want to just thank you very much. I want to thank you.”
I also want to recognize the business leaders in the room whose confidence in the United States — they've been creating jobs — you have such confidence in the United States, and you've been creating jobs for our country for a long, long time. Several Japanese automobile industry firms have been really doing a job. And we love it when you build cars — if you're a Japanese firm, we love it — try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. Is that possible to ask? That's not rude. Is that rude? I don't think so. (Laughter.) If you could build them. But I must say, Toyota and Mazda — where are you? Are you here, anybody? Toyota? Mazda? I thought so. Oh, I thought that was you. That's big stuff. Congratulations. Come on, let me shake your hand. (Applause.) They're going to invest $1.6 billion in building a new manufacturing plant, which will create as many as 4,000 new jobs in the United States. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
If that isn't enough to show CNN and others relied on an uncharitable and incomplete reading of the president’s remarks to get in their digs, the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake highlighted other instances where Trump demonstrated he's definitely aware the Japanese manufacture in the U.S.
“Trump has … tweeted about Toyota and Mazda building that plant," Blake noted. “And he signed a letter applauding Toyota for its expansion in the United States.”
CNN has since amended its article so that the headline now reads, “Trump wants Japan to build more cars in the U.S.”
The story also includes an editor’s note that reads, “The original version of this article and its headline did not make clear that President Trump had praised Japanese automakers for expanding existing U.S. facilities and for making new investments in the U.S. The article and headline have been updated.”
I don’t know if it’s laziness or outright malice (or both) that leads to these stupid, maddening, false narratives in the press, but CNN and others need to step up their game.
This sort of stuff is embarrassing, it’s a waste of everyone's time and it does nothing to disprove the administration's claim that major media outlets peddle "fake news."