Feature Medicine and the Media

Medical response to Trump requires truth seeking and respect for patients

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j661 (Published 07 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j661
  1. Peter Doshi, associate editor, The BMJ
  1. pdoshi{at}bmj.com

Donald Trump’s war with the media shows why medical journalists must acknowledge that not everyone thinks as they do, says Peter Doshi

At some level, journalists must be reveling in covering the new Trump administration. Speaking truth to power seems to be a new low hanging fruit. The pronouncement about the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration,”1 was quickly followed by a revival of the post-election assertion23 that “millions” of illegal voters cost Trump the popular vote. As icing on the cake, Trump’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, served up a neologism to explain discrepant realities: “alternative facts.” The media reacted immediately, calling a lie a lie.

And in case journalists needed any further galvanizing, the president and his staff are unapologetic. They release their own photos and say they didn’t say things they did in fact say.

It seems fair to say that the war with the media is on.

But do journalists think the power of the pen will prevail? Do they think “fact checking” and detailed analyses of how falsehoods spread like “infections”4 will change how people feel about Trump and his policies, either for or against? Will “the truth” guide us to broad consensus amid a background of deep ideological divisions that lead different segments of …

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