Media has told many fake stories about President Donald Trump without any consequences.
So it’s something of an event when a false story actually earns some punishment.
Newsweek just axed the reporter, Jessica Kwong, who wrote the story with the headline “How is Trump Spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, Golfing and More.” Her story was a complete speculation on what he would be doing throughout the day, based off of what he had done in the prior two years. But even then, she left out of her recollection that he’d visited Coast Guard troops in Florida both in 2017 and 2018, delivering a Thanksgiving lunch.
What she missed, of course, was that this year he was actually visiting the troops at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. It was perhaps particularly egregious because she wasn’t just a random reporter commenting but the political reporter assigned to follow Trump and his family.
She got a lot of blowback on Twitter. Even Trump weighed in noting that he thought that “Newsweek had going out of business.”
I thought Newsweek was out of business? https://t.co/3ro4eSJloo
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2019
On Saturday, Newsweek announced Kwong was fired.
From Washington Examiner:
“Newsweek investigated the failures that led to the publication of the inaccurate report that President Trump spent Thanksgiving tweeting and golfing rather than visiting troops in Afghanistan,” a Newsweek representative told the Washington Examiner. “The story has been corrected, and the journalist responsible has been terminated. We will continue to review our processes and, if required, take further action.”
Hours after the president’s trip was announced, Newsweek edited Kwong’s story and added a note at the bottom of it. The beginning of the story now focuses on the president’s trip and his speech to the troops, while the new headline reads, “How is Trump spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, golfing — and surprising U.S. troops in Afghanistan.”
The note at the end of the story reads, “This story has been substantially updated and edited at 6:17 p.m. EST to reflect the president’s surprise trip to Afghanistan. Additional reporting by James Crowley.”
Kwong posted on Twitter, calling it an “honest mistake.”
Trump headed to Afghanistan to surprise U.S. troops on Thanksgiving https://t.co/f7Xeqz1ZGQ Deleting this tweet because it was written before knowing about the president’s surprise visit to Afghanistan-an honest mistake. Story has already been updated, as shown in the screenshot. pic.twitter.com/g9CfPaV2kQ
— Jessica Kwong (@JessicaGKwong) November 29, 2019
On Saturday, Kwong told the Washington Examiner her story of what had happened.
Kwong told the Washington Examiner that she was assigned to write a story about what the president was doing on Thanksgiving a week in advance and filed it to her editors on Wednesday. Then, she explained that she sent a message to the editor on duty with the president’s latest actions and the editor published the piece. That editor decided to have a reporter write a new story on Trump’s surprise trip to Afghanistan, and neglected to update Kwong’s original piece in a timely manner.
But if that were true, why is she the one canned? And why is she filing a story on Thanksgiving the day before? If that’s the magazine’s policy, that’s bad.
One of the biggest problems was the failure to update the story in a timely manner so it allowed hours of people calling the story out as false before anyone did anything.
Someone paid a consequence for the false reporting. But the problem is a greater one that axing one reporter wouldn’t solve. And it’s not just Newsweek, Newsweek is just the latest iteration. Too much of the media has sacrificed objective journalism for narrative and that was clearly evident here.
They have to change the ethos that allows this stuff to happen, that “mistakes” and “bias” always seem to go in one direction, against Trump and Republicans.
How about a return to what you’re actually supposed to be delivering? Objective fact-based journalism.