Trump attended an event hosted by the Retired American Warriors PAC in Northern Virginia yesterday morning. At the event Trump spoke about veterans and what they deal with after combat. Some took his words to suggest that those who suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues are weak or not as strong as those who do not.
There were multiple interpretations of Trump’s comments. Some of which were positive. The marine who asked Trump the question which lead to his comments, Sgt. Chad Robichaux, claimed that media interpreted Trump’s words out of context and that he found them to “thoughtful and comforting.”
This event is an excellent example of how what a huge role the media plays in framing certain political events and issues. The title of the Washington Post article on this particular story was, “Trump suggests military members with mental health issues aren’t ‘strong’ and ‘can’t handle it.’” Rather than facts, the title is presenting an opinion or interpretation.
The power of the media during election cycles is unquestionable. The media has the ability to spin candidate’s comments into a positive or a negative. In Trump’s case, they went negative. The language and framing of the Washington Post article defined the message of Trump’s comments, despite it not being what Trump had intended.
The Washington Post highlighted particular attributes/parts of Trump’s comments rather than the comments as a whole. By drawing more attention to certain aspects of what he said, they promoted a particular way of thinking about the story for their readers’ interpretations.
But let’s think about this: If the Washington Post’s article was 100 percent factually true and their interpretation of Trump’s comments completely matched Trump’s intentions with the comments and had offended the veteran asking Trump the question, would we be surprised?
The reason the Washington Post is able slide by in reporting like this, might very well be because if Trump were to actually make comments attacking veterans suffering from PTSD, it wouldn’t carry the shock value to actually put a dent in Trump’s support.
That being said, the media has been able to fuel the Clinton campaign’s fire on this particular story. The campaign has already jumped on the opportunity to attack Trump’s comments based on this interpretation, with Joe Biden’s speech at a HRC rally in Florida, Monday night.