Does President Trump Want to Build Steam-Powered Aircraft Carriers?

Business Insider publishes wildly biased and misleading news story about Trump’s recent visit to Japan.

An unusual-sounding headline popped up in my news feed today. “Trump tells troops that future US supercarriers are ‘going to use steam’ in a weird rant about an obsession he can’t seem to shake.” Written by Ryan Pickrell for Business Insider, this alleged news story and its misleading headline is rife with opinionated and obviously biased descriptors and characterizations.

When I read this headline, it conjured an image of President Trump advocating a return to late 19th Century steam-powered ships. After all, that would be a “weird rant” about future US supercarriers using steam. You have to read past the headline to find out what actually happened.

In an address to sailors and Marines on the USS Wasp in Japan earlier today, President Trump mentioned he might issue an order for the Navy’s new Ford-class supercarriers to use steam-powered launchers to catapult aircraft off the flight deck, rather than the planned Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System. “The US Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carriers have used steam launchers for decades,” the article explains.

Trump is concerned the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System is much more expensive without any added benefit. It also appears the majority of Naval personnel support continued use of the simpler steam launchers. So Trump is bringing up an issue to win favor with the troops, hardly something “weird” or controversial.

Newsweek’s article about the event is decidedly more objective. Their headline was “Donald Trump Plans to Use Traditional Steam Catapults on U.S. Aircraft Carriers”. A fairly accurate description. The article goes on to explain Trump’s advocacy of the steam catapults and features some quotes from his speech. I don’t come away with any sense Newsweek is taking one side or the other.

In contrast, Business Insider deliberately uses words like “inexplicably”, “persistent obsession”, “attacked”, “ire”, and “weird rant” to color and cast Trump’s remarks in a negative light. It makes the president sound unhinged and like he’s pulling this criticism from thin air (rather than echoing a complaint he’s heard from Naval personnel).

Calling a person’s statement a “weird rant” is an opinion about what they said and why they said it. This is an opinion piece masquerading as a news story. With so much vitriol cast at “fake news” and misleading or false information online, you’d think news outlets would be especially careful about maintaining objectivity when it comes to reporting on events such as this.

Instead, we have yet another example in a long line of agenda-driven and opinionated reporting. I mean, this is a deliberately misleading headline meant to fuel a partisan narrative about the president. You don’t get any clearer example of media bias than this.

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Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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