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At a rally last night in Michigan, President Trump mocked asylum seekers, acting out his demented idea of how they might try to cheat their way into the country. It was grotesque, and par for the course—he loves to do his little skits.

“Then I look at the guy. He looks like he just got out of the ring. He’s a heavyweight champion of the world. It’s a big fat con job,” he said.

So how did CNN, supposedly one of Trump’s great adversaries and chief Enemy of the People, cover this? By saying he appeared to be mocking asylum seekers. Far be it from them, the news doers, to inform the public of what actually happened.

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It is March 2019, almost four years since Trump announced his run for the presidency, and the major media outlets still don’t know how to cover Trump. They still don’t know that you won’t get any points with the rabid right for hedging on facts.

Presumably, the explanation for this prevarication is similar to why outlets won’t say Trump lied—because they can’t x-ray his fucked up brain and know for sure whether or not he intentionally said a false thing, they refuse to say he’s lying, even when it is very clear that he knows otherwise. Similarly, it seems CNN believes that they can’t possibly know whether Trump thought he was mocking asylum seekers, so they can’t say that he was. They can only say he appeared to.

Mainstream media outlets are so afraid of the bad faith conservative discourse screaming at them that they’re biased and unfair to Trump that they reflect the goals of those people in their coverage. They seem to think that by implying some sort of disagreement over what objectively happened, they can both do the news and avoid being yelled at. And the yelling is real: The Trump media universe, which spends most of its time crying about the lying media while pondering whether Seth Rich is Q and whether your daughter’s boyfriend is a communist as well as a fuckin’ rude little shit, undermines reporting by crying over things that are objectively true. It is what they do.

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Take, for instance, Trump’s own response to Meryl Streep criticizing Trump mocking a disabled reporter, surely one of the low points of the 2016 campaign:

“I was never mocking anyone,” Mr. Trump said. “I was calling into question a reporter who had gotten nervous because he had changed his story,” arguing that the reporter had been trying to back away from an article he wrote in September 2001 about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and elsewhere that month.

“People keep saying I intended to mock the reporter’s disability, as if Meryl Streep and others could read my mind, and I did no such thing,” he said in the interview.

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Trump would like it if you could never impugn his motives without being able to see directly inside his brain, which looks like the grimy cavity of a garbage disposal that hasn’t been cleaned in several decades. His allies and advocates in the media defend him, and since there are now two sides to the issue of whether a thing that objectively happened actually happened, well, I guess we’ll never know. Better say he appears to be doing the thing he says to avoid seeming like we’re biased.

The message is: Are you really going to believe what your lying eyes told you? Four years into this shit, CNN has still not learned this game—or that it can’t win.