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Pseud’s recent post about Sharyl Attkisson fact-checking Trump’s passing remarks about McCain raises an interesting dilemma for journalists. How do you report on non-literal statements?
As I said in my comment there, I believe Trump was clearly being sarcastic when he said, ”[McCain] is a war hero because he was captured.” The implication, as evidenced by surrounding remarks, was that McCain is not a war hero because accidental suffering does not make one a hero. (That’s not to say Trump is correct or that he shouldn’t have followed the comment by acknowledging that McCain served with honor, at least. But that’s a discussion for other threads.)
Sarcasm and non-literal language are common forms of communication in modern Western societies. What are some guidelines for reporting such statements? It is easy to mistake tone and context, so to miss sarcasm or perceive it where it is not.
What other kinds of non-literal or even non-verbal communication should reporters generally mention or pointedly avoid?
Tone is often important. But can it be reported on somewhat objectively? What about body language?Published in