By BEN EZZY
Donald Trump continued to make headlines this week after speaking on the phone with the widow of a soldier who was killed in action. Sgt. La David T. Johnson was one of four Americans killed in an ambush in Niger on Oct. 4. As is customary for the commander-in-chief, Trump contacted Sgt. Johnson’s widow and spoke at length with her.
Listening to the call were Sgt. Johnson’s mother, and Democratic Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson of South Florida. Sgt. Johnson’s mother accused Trump of saying that he “knew what he signed up for,” and only referenced him as “your guy.” Trump denied these claims, insisting that the entire story was “fabricated” in pursuit of her politics.
Due to the emotional nature of the issue, it was a very complex story for the media to handle adequately, and in analyzing the work by news organizations, it is clear that decisions were handled with care. Maintaining impartiality was key, especially since the majority of the story rests solely on accusations. The New York Times, for example, made sure that the sources were the ones making the claims, while the narrative of the reporters was more focused on connecting the dots between them.
Balanced reporting, especially in the era of fake news and the constant attacks on the media by the Trump administration, is very important. The New York Times ran a piece about the issues other presidents have faced in reaching out to families in this similar situation. This allowed their organization to remain neutral, and to offer a look into the other side, and examine the complex issues involved through multiple perspectives.
On a much more humorous note, The Times chose to refer to the complex aftermath of the accusations as an “imbroglio” in the title of their online story, a word so incredibly articulate and yet completely obscure that I could not help but chuckle.