Newsweek Writes Barron Trump Out of Existence

I read a lot of news articles every day. It goes with the territory, what with being an editor and all that comes with it.  I try – I really try – to get things right, and I try to be polite to people who don’t act politely but sometimes it doesn’t seem to be worth the effort.

In an article about Eric Trump’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), published yesterday on the Newsweek website, Newsweek reporter Nina Burleigh committed the ultimate reportorial blunder: she wrote someone out of existence.  She wrote:

President Trump’s youngest son, Eric, decried the lack of “manners” in America in a speech Thursday, and, like his sister Ivanka last year, expressed dismay at what he called the “viciousness” of political reactions to his father.  (Emphasis added.)

Regardless of what you may think about Donald Trump, he is – for better or worse, mostly worse – president of the United States.  As president, Mr. Trump might have some expectation of more decorum than he has been getting from the public, even though he is usually the one who starts the indecorous behavior in the first place.

Eric Trump, 34, is not, however, entitled to the same consideration as his father might expect to get. As the executive vice president and de facto CEO of the Trump Organization, he’s just another businessman who, like many other business people, has unprecedented – and unwarranted – access to the Oval Office. (Eric Trump’s older brother, Donald, Jr., 40, is suspected of being the “co-de facto” CEO. No one doubts that Donald, Sr., is still running the show, pun intended.)

Eric Trump has been the subject of widespread ridicule after pictures of him posing before innocent mammals he had murdered on various hunting trips appeared. , Eric Trump is not, however, Donald Trump’s youngest son.

That dubious honor, if it is an honor at all, belongs to Barron Trump, 11, who is Eric Trump’s half-brother. Reporting about the younger Trump siblings never uses the terms half-brother or half-sister because that calls attention to the fact that the thrice-married Trump has produced offspring with three different women….that we know about.  (Think Arnold Schwarzenegger before you take umbrage.)

Unlike his older brothers, Barron has not yet been snapped in front of the animals he’s murdered.  He’s either smart enough not to allow pictures to be taken of him posing with his kills, or he has yet to have been initiated into the blood sports enjoyed by his siblings.  He’s also 11, and that’s probably too young to go big game hunting in Africa, unless you happen to be an African boy in his own habitat.

The faux pas of writing someone out of existence is hardly the most grievous of reportorial errors…and we all know that Newsweek has been having some rather dramatic problems recently so, perhaps, one should not throw too many stones in their direction. Nevertheless, the failure of the editors at Newsweek – there must be some left there after the recent departures – to catch this egregious error is symptomatic of what has happened to “journalism” in America and perhaps around the world as well.

Back when I first got my Newspaper Guild membership card (in 1967, as a matter of fact), every news story you read in your daily paper was reviewed numerous times.   Before even being set in type, the article was read by the city editor, the assistant city editor, the managing editor, the chief copy editor (otherwise known as the slot man),  two different associate or assistant copy editors (otherwise know as the rim men or rim people, I guess) before being set in type.  After it was set in type, the galleys were reviewed by each of these individuals again.  That comes to 14 reads, counting the Linotype operators.

The failure of a major news organization (let’s give Newsweek some credit; after all, they are still in business) to catch such an obvious error forces one to wonder what else they are missing, what falsehoods are creeping into their pages to infect the minds of unsuspecting readers.

Newsweek Writes Barron Trump Out of Existence
Newsweek Writes Barron Trump Out of Existence

Everyone makes mistakes. (I bet – heavily – on the Patriots this year. I should have known better.) I am sure there are mistakes in this article. (I have an ongoing issue with commas, of all things.)  To err is human; to correct is, if not divine, at least an editorial prerogative.  I am sure that this error will be corrected. It might already have been corrected. That’s why I am inserting this image here

I don’t get Newsweek, but I will head out to the newsstand to see if this particular error made it all the way into print. If so, the shame is compounded.  If, when you go to the Newsweek website, the error is no longer there, stop and ask yourself this question:  “How many other ‘errors’ have appeared and disappeared from major publications, and how is that distorting our perception of the facts.”

Neither Eric nor Barron Trump could be reached for comment. We didn’t want to talk to Eric and no one ever gets to talk to Barron.

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