The Washington Post’s media critic lowered the hammer on President Trump this week, calling him “abnormal” and somebody who “doesn’t tell the truth a lot.”

Addressing the State of the Media In 2018 at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Margaret Sullivan said that Trump has been difficult for the media to cover in a traditional way because he “lies.”

In comments posted on the Center’s website under the header “The challenges of covering Trump,” she said:

“We’re struggling, I would say, to cover a very unusual, abnormal president. He’s out to turn things on their heads, to destroy norms, and so on, and yet, the way we cover things tends to be in a system that wants to put him into a normal kind of coverage. So, those things don’t go together very well, and I don’t think we’ve fully figured out how to change what we do in order to adjust to what he does.”

“One of the things that we’ve done that actually has worked fairly well, and has been a good development, is a lot more real-time fact checking, which has been very necessary, because Trump doesn’t tell the truth a lot. He uses a lot of misstatements, and I don’t think it’s going too far to say that some of them are actually lies…it took the reality-based press quite a while to use the word ‘lie’ to talk about Trump’s misstatements.”

In her discussion she also suggested that the term “mainstream media” has been distorted and “weaponized,” and she prefers instead the term “reality-based press.”

She said:

“I have an alternative that I like better, ‘the reality-based press.’ I think that like the phrase ‘fake news,’ the term ‘mainstream media’ has been weaponized…I do say mainstream media from time to time because people understand what it means, and it’s a sort of shorthand. But I’m trying to point out that there is an element of the journalistic ecosystem that tries to hew to the facts and reality, as opposed to other things.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at