Media Reset

In the political fray, don't guess at motives - debate the facts


Motives, motives, motives.

Why did President Donald Trump dismiss FBI Director James Comey?

Why did Hillary Clinton operate a private email server when she was Secretary of State?

Why did FBI Director James Comey say the FBI wasn't, and then was, continuing to investigate Clinton's email practices?

What was Trump's motive in announcing immigration bans on seven countries?

Those are just a few examples. Since the election, Washington's superheated political atmosphere is producing new occasions every day that prompt legions of people to theorize about the motives of others.

Leading U.S. officials do their share of it. But reporters and commentators do even more. They've made an entire industry out of speculating about the motives of the politicos.

The most frequent target is President Trump. Certainly, he seems to do something every day or two that prompts the media and his opponents to see lurid motives.

And motives matter. But the problem is, we rarely know the motives that prompt people's actions.

A lesson I learned

This constant motive-bashing sends me back to a lesson I learned when I first began writing editorials for the daily paper our family owned in Monroe, Mich. 

Read the rest of Steve Gray's column

Calendar View all