Speed Reads

telling the truth

Former RNC head and intelligence expert push back against cries of fake news

A Democratic political commentator, a former Republican National Committee chairman, and an expert on intelligence and terrorism all agree that despite President Trump's penchant for calling media reports "fake news," facts do still matter.

Krystal Ball, Michael Steele, and Malcolm Nance spoke at the Politicon convention Sunday in Pasadena, California, appearing on a panel hosted by MSNBC's Joy Reid. For many Republicans, even when Trump calls something "fake news" when it's true, they are compelled to go along with what he says because the "desire to support the president, desire to support the party, right or wrong, that's what politics dictates now," Steele said. With so many people accusing the media of peddling fake news, "it undermines the very fabric of who we are as a nation when you begin to question those institutions," he added.

It's very dangerous to start labeling everything you don't like as fake news. "Trust me, as a black Roman Catholic conservative Republican from Washington, D.C., I had a lot of stuff thrown my way that I didn't like, but at no time would I ever look at the media or anyone in the media as laying out fake lies, fake news, or whatever," Steele said. "You roll with those punches, you push back, you tell your narrative. It's much easier now to label something as fake news than to confront the truth or falsity of what it is you're saying. That convenience that is perpetuated and laid out there by the administration I think undermines the very strong constitutional principle of a free press."

From the perspective of a person deeply entrenched in intelligence, Nance said it's unbelievable that people think they are the ones leaking sensitive information to the media. "The people who are going to leak are not people in the intelligence community," he said. "It's people who work in the political spectrum and many of whom have positions of authority in one of the two parties or Congress." They work solely with facts, and while the "intelligence community is about 85 percent conservative, they are 100 percent smart," Nance said. "When they see a risk, they're not going to say, 'Well, Barack Obama might get an advantage on that, so I'm not going to talk about that suicide truck bombing.' No, they'll be the first people to run, they will go to everyone in the government."