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How to Cover Donald Trump Fairly: A Style Guide

The Washington Post The Washington Post 14/06/2016 Alexandra Petri
Donald Trump © AP Photo/Jim Cole Donald Trump

This Style Guide to Covering Trump Honestly and Fairly is too late for me, since I work at The Post, which has had its credentials revoked by the Trump campaign.

But it may not be too late for you, other members of the media! Please read and implement!

The Pillars of Covering Trump:

1. Donald Trump is never wrong.

Donald Trump is infallible — like the pope but with more raw sexual charisma. If Donald Trump appears to be wrong in a story, either because of a statement or an action, or some combination of the two, it should be rewritten so that he is not wrong. A good baseline for what is fair and honest coverage is that fair and honest coverage depicts Donald Trump as the shining, golden god he is, envied of men and beloved of women. Unfair, dishonest coverage does not depict Donald Trump this way.

2. Style is as important as substance. A good post about Donald Trump includes at least one of the following words: “huge,” “great,” “manly,” “terrific,” “incredible,” “fantastic,” “remarkable,” “big”/”bigly,” “immense,” “girthy,” “magisterial,” “gargantuan,” “tumescent.” Ideally, this word would be in the headline. A bad post about Donald Trump includes the words or phrases “puny,” “dangerous,” “Godwin’s law,” “cocktail shrimp in a toupee,” “husk of dead skin and hyperbole,” “garbage fart,” “what results if you accidentally leave Guy Fieri in a microwave.”

3. Does Donald Trump contradict himself? Very well; he contradicts himself. Donald Trump is large. Donald Trump contains multitudes.

4. Who among us has not been in the position where what he means to say is something wise and temperate and what actually comes out of his mouth is a garbage fart? Equipped with this knowledge, it is often best to take into account what Donald Trump should have said and to report that instead of what he actually did say. (The great historian Thucydides used to do this, which is why Pericles’s Funeral Oration is so lovely.)

5. Remember the transitive property of Trump: Whenever Donald Trump loves something, it loves him back. Donald Trump loves women. Therefore, women love Donald Trump. Donald Trump loves Hispanics. Therefore, Hispanics love Donald Trump. Any polls that obscure these truths should be disregarded.

6. Donald Trump’s hair is real. Well, no. “Real” is putting it too mildly. Donald Trump’s hair is a fact that transcends reality or unreality, not to be questioned, merely to be admired, like the triune nature of God or the singular beauty and excellence of a Donald Trump building.

7. Two words: LARGE HANDS.

8. Facts are often biased against Donald Trump and should be used sparingly in reporting, if at all. Think of them as a garnish, not an entree.

9. Donald Trump’s word suffices. Fact-checking is at best gauche and at worst treasonous. What is fact? Donald Trump speaks truth, which is bigger than fact. Donald Trump loves you. You love Donald Trump.

10. Donald Trump believes that criticism is healthy. As Noel Coward put it, Donald Trump can take any amount of criticism, so long as it is unqualified praise.

Some Frequently Asked Questions on Fair Trump Coverage

Q: Can I just print a transcript of what Donald Trump actually said?

A: No. This is very mean and bad. What Donald Trump actually says is, of course, uniformly good and correct. But sometimes if you just write it out and give it to people to see, they will not think so. Therefore, this is to be avoided.

Q: What is a fair question?

A: An example of a fair question is “Donald Trump, why are you so good at business?” An example of an unfair or gotcha question is “Why did Lincoln succeed?”

Q: Can I describe what someone did at a Donald Trump rally?

A: Yes, if that someone is Donald Trump and what that someone did was “be awesome without interruption.”

Q: What if Donald Trump didn’t answer my question?

A: Not true. Donald Trump has given you the answer. Your question was not correct. This isn’t hard, just think of it like “Jeopardy!”

Q: In the statement issued by the Donald Trump campaign stating that it will stop credentialing Post reporters, the campaign said, “Mr. Trump does not mind a bad story, but it has to be honest.” What is a bad story that is honest that Mr. Trump would not mind?

A: A story about Hillary Clinton.

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