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Sunday, August 25, 2019

The What They Actually Said Rule

The Associated Press today engaged in a clickbait that predates the Internet. In it, the reporter makes a statement in the form of a question, then attributes the statement to the interviewed person.

The question of President Donald John Trump was, "Mister President, any second thoughts on escalating the trade war with  China?

The president replied, "Yeah, sure. Why not?"

The reporter asked again, "Second thoughts? Yes?"

The president replied, "Might as well, might as well."

Finally, the reporter asked, "You have second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?"

President Trump replied, "I have second thoughts about everything."


The reporter had what he was fishing for. The Associated Press headline read, "Trump signals some regret on China trade war."

The Washington Post reported, "Trump, for first time, signals regret China trade war has escalated."

Signals regrets?

He had second thoughts. Everyone does. Well, anyone who uses reason and logic does.

But having second thoughts are not the same as regret, which is feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed. Second thoughts are when you review what you did and wonder if you could have done things better.

After the Associated Press and the rest clickbaited the president, the White House clarified that his second thoughts were not regrets as the media reported without evidence (to use a favored phrase by journalists). Instead, the president was thinking that, gee, maybe I should have been harder on Red China.

Here is how the Associated Press reported that, "President Donald Trump said Sunday that he had second thoughts about escalating the trade war with China, but the White House later reversed that message saying the president was misinterpreted and that his only regret in hiking tariffs is that he didn’t raise them higher."


In its original story, the Associated Press reported, "President Donald Trump signaled regret Sunday for an escalating trade war with China, as he faces a tense reception from world leaders meeting amid mounting anxiety of a global economic slowdown at the Group of Seven summit in France.

"Trump is trying to use the conference to rally global leaders to do more to stimulate their economies, as fears rise of a potential slowdown in the U.S. ahead of his reelection. But Trump's counterparts, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are trying to convince him to back off his trade wars with China and other countries, which they see as contributing to the economic weakening.

"The meetings come days after President Donald Trump escalated his trade war with China, following China's announcement Friday that it would slap new tariffs on $75 billion in American goods. Trump responded with more tariffs of his own and issued an extraordinary threat to declare a national emergency in an attempt to force U.S. businesses to cut ties with China."

Most people just read the first few paragraphs. What he actually said was not reported until Paragraph 4.

The Associated Press reported, "But Sunday, during a breakfast meeting with Johnson, Trump suggested he has qualms about the spiraling conflict. 'Yeah. For sure,' Trump told reporters when asked if he has second thoughts about escalating the trade dispute, adding he has 'second thoughts about everything.' But he insisted that 'we're getting along well right now with China.'"

This is why besides the 24 Hour Rule on crimes I also have the What They Actually Said Rule.

Had the Associated Press used Paragraph 4 as Paragraph 2, I would not have bothered writing this post.

But had the Associated Press done that, the people would have known the lead paragraph was bogus.

By the way, the transcript was lifted from a Jim Acosta tweet.


  1. Why settle for reporting the news when you can make it up?

  2. perhaps a more accurate label might be ass press.

    that way, you credit their sources as well.


  3. Awwww, maaaaaan!!!!

    Cum oooooonnnnn!!!!

    Tinking is haaaaaaaard!!!!!

    All of dem tawts!!!!

    Swilling round in mize brains!!!!

    Why, it's, itz, it is...... Diobolikallill!!!!

    And dey still wont tell me where Dave is!!!!


    I know he aint home, but, den, where is he!!!!

  4. I was reading this and thinking....

    Wouldn't it be great if there were some reliable place to get the news.

    Then realized I'm already there!

    Thank you, Don.

    1. Spectre if you're a neocon bloodthirsty warmonger then you're at the right place.

    2. Pick the choice which most accurately describes you:

      Muslim agitator.

      Chicom agitator.

      Democrat agitator.

      Paid flunkie agitator.

      Agitated lonely bones.

      Bored to agitation horny whatever.

      You may select more than one.


  5. What is insulting is the apparent assumption by these so-called journalists that we will just unthinkingly swallow tbis swill.

    Let’s call it what it is: plain dishonesty put in the guise of sharing news...

    Wait...Trump beat me to it...

  6. Thanks for ur Information sir <3

    Vegus 666 เว็บพนันออนไลน์อันดับ 1 ฝาก-ถอน 24 ชั่วโมง Line @VG666 โดยทีม Vegus168.

  7. I hope the President whups that AP reporter's arse! He could whup Jim Acosta's fanny with one arm tied behind his back!

  8. The MSM is basically cycling through three messages continuously:
    * Trump is angering our allies and befriending our enemies
    * Trump's White House is in chaos
    * Trump will lose the election if he asks Americans to tighten their belts to beat China
    Rinse, repeat.

  9. This matches up with the B.S. surrounding Boris Johnson's comment about preferring no tariffs. No shiite, Sherlock. You can prefer to not have tariffs while at the same time acknowledging that tariffs might be a necessary tactic in the near term. Lefties are all about nuance when it suits them but disingenuously get all hard core literal when they want to dump on PDJT.