Everyone knows a text without a context is a pretext. This is especially important in media circles, where journalists are reporting about what politicians say.
But everyone also knows that media networks are mostly concerned with ratings and advertisement revenue. The more shocking the headlines and accusations are, the better.
While most of the time the media can get away with intentionally twisting someone’s words, sometimes their twisting is way too obvious – even to their average reader.
That’s when an editor will go in and quickly and surreptitiously fill in the context, change the headline, and delete any associated tweets, and act like it never happened.
Such was the case with a CNN article that had initially claimed that Trump encouraged his supporters to vote multiple times, a claim which certainly would have been significant if true, given Trump’s fixation on the prospect of a rigged election.
The only problem was, they did a lot more than spin what he said. He didn’t say at all what they had wanted him to say.
Mediaite reported on what CNN had initially quoted Trump as saying in their article entitled “Trump, Skeptical of Mail-in Balloting, Encourages Voting More Than Once if Necessary”:
“If you go to university center, they’ll give you a new ballot, they’ll void your old ballot, in some places they do that four or five times, so by tomorrow, almost everyone will have their new ballots in.”
Here’s what he actually said, reported by Mediaite:
“If you go to university center, they’ll give you a new ballot, they’ll void your old ballot. They’ll give you a new ballot, and you can go out and make sure it get’s in. Now in some places, they do that four or five times, but we don’t do that. So by tomorrow, almost everyone will have their new ballots in.”
See the difference? In the former “quote,” it looks like he’s encouraging his supporters to vote “four or five times,” and he shows them how to do it at the “university center.”
But if you look at latter quote – what he actually said – there’s a key phrase that changes the sense of whole thing: “But we don’t do that.”
If anything, instead of encouraging his supporters to vote multiple times, he’s again reiterating his suspicions about our election system and highlighting the potential for fraud.
CNN has since changed the headline to “Trump Stokes Skepticism of Colorado Voting System.” They’ve changed the article to offer a little more context – even adding a “correction” note at the bottom of the article – and they’ve deleted their tweet of the initial article.