How many times have you watched a news conference with a member of the Trump administration only to hear the reporter complain, "But that's not what I asked!" Or "can you please address my question?"
It’s no secret that politicians will answer a question by responding with a completely different issue. It’s called trying to control the narrative. When asked a difficult question, it’s common to hear a totally unrelated answer.
The Trump administration has taken this to a new level with its attempts at deflection, refusing to allow a question to be asked, or out and out distortion of the facts. Instead, they will talk over the interviewer, plow on with a seemingly endless verbal barrage and refuse to address key issues -- or respond to the question being asked.
With Trump, himself, he simply resorts to insulting reporters he doesn't like or if they are from a news organization that doesn't praise his every move. "You're fake news," he said the other day to a reporter from CNN, before calling on a friendly face from Fox News, the "Trump Fake News Network (TFNN)".
Besides Trump, the premier master of this practice of evasion is undoubtedly White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway, who coined the term “alternative facts” to explain the paltry size of Trump's inauguration crowd. She's an expert at spewing verbal diarrhea to avoid providing answers, and her use of deflection has become the norm for any administration member being interviewed by any news outlet other than Fox.
She must be providing coaching lessons on the side.
While Fox is only too happy to allow administration spokespersons to rant on, giving credence to their distorted views, legitimate news networks and journalists seek honest answers. Despite being continually deflected, interviewers from CNN, MSNBC, CBS and other news organizations that Trump calls “fake news” for their refusal to accept his administration’s false narratives, continue to press for answers.
In a recent interview, White House economist Peter Navarro was asked if he sees the US economy slipping into a recession. He responded by citing protective measures the administration is taking to combat the coronavirus. When pressed, he said he would rather “stay in his lane” and continued to comment on relief efforts.
He’s an economist! Matters of the economy are in “his lane”.
Although he eventually led the interview down a meandering path by citing economic measures being implemented, he still refused to answer the original question.
And, of course, no Trump administration interview would be complete without a dig at previous administrations. So, Navarro closed things out by blaming the current crisis on allowing pharmaceutical companies to move their operations offshore. He was careful not to blame Big Pharma, and instead focused his criticism on “previous administrations”.
It’s like the directions on a bottle of shampoo, but instead of “lather, rinse, repeat”, it’s “deflect, deny and drift off topic”.
Round and round we go!