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Opinion | On Trump, Truth and Press Coverage

To the Editor:

In “Can the Press Stop a Trump Restoration?” (column, Dec. 11), Ross Douthat says the primary mission of the press is to provide an accurate description of reality, to be truthful and neutral. But being “neutral,” especially in today’s political climate, can result in inaccurate descriptions of reality and in untruths.

At present, the extreme segment of the Republican Party has an enormous influence and is an existential threat to our democracy. The extreme segment of the Democratic Party has far less influence and so, regardless of what you think of its ideas, does not pose the same threat to our democratic way of life. A false equivalency in coverage provides an untruthful and unrealistic picture of current affairs.

I’m sick and tired of hearing from acquaintances and others that politicians and political parties are “all the same.” They are not. It’s dangerous for the press to be “neutral” rather than truthful and realistic.

Bruce Shames
New York

To the Editor:

I have a suggestion for the press in its truth-presenting efforts: Stop calling today’s Republicans “conservatives,” which the dictionary describes as “moderate” people favoring socially traditional values. Since when do voter suppression, supporting a coup on Capitol Hill, or seeking to exert undue pressure or resort to outright lies to overthrow an election come even close to socially traditional values?

Granted, there still are a handful of Republicans who fit the traditional mold, but mischaracterizing the rest gives them political equivalence and bragging rights they don’t deserve, and implies that nothing has changed.

George Idelson

To the Editor:

I agree with Ross Douthat that the press must continue to stick with the facts in writing about one of the most aberrant political figures in American history. It is enough to stick to the indisputable, that Donald Trump is repulsively self-absorbed, can be breathtakingly ignorant and is congenitally dishonest, all charges that are easily demonstrated.

No need to exaggerate.

Mike Mee
Endicott, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Seeing Ross Douthat’s thoughtful column made me wonder: Mightn’t it help stop Donald Trump’s restoration if The Times and other newspapers stopped accompanying such articles with prominent photos of Mr. Trump doing his favorite thing — spewing fantasies into microphones?

Terry Mulligan
St. Louis

To the Editor:

Re “Protecting Ukraine From Invasion,” by Alexander Vindman (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, Dec. 12):

U.S. officials continue to debate options on how to respond to Russia’s troop buildup near the border with Ukraine. Mr. Vindman advocates for a substantial, comprehensive U.S. strategic relationship with Kyiv, including but not limited to security assistance, economic cooperation and investment.

But his strategy is likely to result in the Russian aggression he wants to prevent. The reason behind this is simple and has been telegraphed by Moscow for months, if not years: Under no circumstances will Russia countenance yet another neighbor drifting permanently into the Western orbit. The United States, therefore, needs to be judicious about how it proceeds. U.S. policy on Ukraine should start with the physician’s adage: “First, do no harm.”

If the United States truly cares about Ukraine, it would push Kyiv toward a diplomatic settlement along the lines of the 2015 Minsk II framework, which (among other items) trades the withdrawal of all Russian forces for a measure of autonomy for the Donbas region of Ukraine.

Such an accord is no doubt unpopular in Kyiv and will rub a lot of U.S. foreign policy analysts in Washington the wrong way. But it’s time for the U.S. to deal with reality: Ukraine will not win a war against Russia, and Washington should avoid actions that are bound to further escalate the situation with potentially dire results.

Daniel R. DePetris
New Rochelle, N.Y.
The writer is a fellow at Defense Priorities.

To the Editor:

Re “What Kind of Power Should the Names of New York Have?,” by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro (Opinion guest essay, Dec. 9):

One reason not to rename place names is to encourage insight that not all people are reducible to their worst characteristics.

George Washington was a great leader in war and peace, as well as a slave owner. Thomas Jefferson was a notable diplomat, writer and inventor, as well as a slave owner. They were multifaceted people of the 18th century.

Perhaps retaining their names on places can spur discussions in schools about the complexity of human behavior — its historical context, its effect on peers and how we weigh the importance of individuals in our history.

We could use some complexity in our perspectives right now, as well as nuance and subtlety.

Frances Frederick

To the Editor:

I can envision a time in the future when names of our heroes who were not vegetarians will be removed from the public sphere. After all, they ate the flesh of animals! When will this insanity end?

Ellen Shaffer Meyer
Wilmington, Del.

To the Editor:

Re “Pearl Harbor and a Capacity for Surprise” (column, Dec. 8):

Bret Stephens scolds Joe Biden and Boris Johnson for not being Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, “great leaders capable of inspiring national confidence, even among their partisan opponents.” Could F.D.R. or Churchill achieve greatness in today’s media and political landscapes? I’m skeptical.

Steven Sullivan
Long Island City, Queens

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