We received a good deal of criticism for running a story about the pop-up store that is selling Trump merchandise in North Falmouth. Some was warranted; for example, we should have reported who the owner is and elicited comments from people coming and going from the shopping center. Public reaction was an important, but missing, piece of the story.
Much criticism was not warranted. Some called the story an “advertisement.” It wasn’t, of course. But even if we were to accede to the point, advertising is like going to the gym. Going once does no good; it is utterly ineffective. Advertising must be done in a sustained campaign. A single story, even on the front page, will do little to promote the Trump merchandise business.
Some said it wasn’t news that a vendor is selling Trump merchandise in a pop-up storefront. First, that doesn’t happen often in Falmouth; it is unusual. More to the point, people were and are talking about it. We received calls about it before we ran the story. And there have been many calls and emails since. What people are talking about is news.
One curious piece of criticism was that by running the story we “normalized” Trump. We’ve read this complaint about the media before. By reporting Trump’s lies, his outrageous tweets, it somehow makes him normal.
President Trump is anything but normal and posterity will not ever recast him that way. The American people do not believe his lies and deceit are normal. They are not inured to it, either. They have gradually lost hope that anyone other than the electorate will do anything about it. Trump has been enabled, even encouraged, by Congress and staff, particularly his attorney general. Trump pushes the limits of the law and the law does not push back.
Underlying all the criticism we have received is value judgment. Selling Trump merchandise and the signs supporting it are offensive, and the Enterprise should not call attention to it. Calling attention to Christine Kircun and Sustainable Practices, the story that appeared above it, is okay because Ms. Kircun is doing good on the Cape.
Enterprise editors, however, take great pains not to make value judgments when reporting the news. That is reserved for the editorial page. We don’t run stories to make statements, nor do we leave stories out because we don’t like the subjects. And we don’t believe there is a single reader out there who would want us to.
We could have ignored the Trump merchandiser and pretended that he doesn’t exist. That might have made a lot of people happier but, ironically, that’s probably how President Trump would have handled it.