The degree to which the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck has engulfed the news media has shocked even me, and readers know that Ethics Alarms had swamp-level regard for U.S. journalists long before the 2016 campaign. It has obliterated any legitimate trust a citizen could have in the mainstream media’s news judgment, objectivity and competence, and with the exception of tiny pockets of professionalism here and there (Jake Tapper comes to mind), has declared itself a partisan foe of the electoral system, and the Presidency. The double standards applied regarding Democrats and Republicans as well as the smug shamelessness with which the media has applied them cannot be condemned too harshly. Naturally, the equally corrupted members of the so-called “resistance” see none of the harm and betrayal in this, since it suits their own ends.
Ethics Alarms can’t catalogue all of the worst examples of this; there isn’t time. Last month, for example, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who once had a conscience and a mind even as you or I, authored one of the ugliest and most disgusting pieces I have read in any reputable publication. In the disgrace titled “There’s a Whiff of Treason In The Air” Kristof issued a conspiracy theory that would be at home in the archives of Alex Jones, Mike Cernovich, or Donald Trump in his birther days, except that so many hopeful Democrats endorse it. The column is one long, vicious smear, claiming that President Trump engaged in treason, while citing absolutely no evidence whatsoever that supports such an inflammatory accusation. I considered flagging all of the slimy, dishonest, hypocritical rhetorical techniques Kristof brings to his efforts to undermine his nation’s President, but I decided to do so would insult my readers’ intelligence: it is so obvious, particularly when one considers the Russian “ties” the Clinton campaign had to Russia. Why do the business dealings of Trump campaign personnel with Russian figures spell TREASON to the Times columnist, and the more ominous ties between Russia and the Clintons get a pass? Simple: he wants Donald Trump to be proven a traitor; his readers want it; and he, the Times and the Democratic Party that has sold its integrity and soul intends to push the accusations as long as they can cripple and delegitimize the government they oppose.
Commenting on a Guardian story about British involvement in the intelligence efforts to prove something nefarious was going on between Trump and Putin, blogger John Hinderaker nicely shows how irresponsible and unsustainable the Russia conspiracy theory has become:
“The blindingly obvious point that the Guardian tries to obscure is that the combined assets of all of these agencies failed to find any evidence of collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russia. We know this, because the Democrats have pulled out all the stops. Both before the election, and especially after the election, they have leaked furiously to try to discredit President Trump. If there were any evidence of collusion between Trump (or even obscure, minor “advisers” like Carter Page) and Russia, there would have been nothing else in the Washington Post or the New York Times for the past five months. But they have nothing.
What was really going on seems clear. Everyone involved in this story thought that Hillary Clinton was sure to win the election. Why? Because they read the Washington Post and the New York Times. Plus Real Clear Politics and 538. The suggestion that the Russian government tried to swing the election to Donald Trump is ridiculous. The Russians thought that Hillary was the certain winner, and if–a big if–they carried out a primitive phishing expedition into Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s email account, and subsequently sent the DNC emails to Wikileaks, it was to cause trouble for Clinton after she became president.
Likewise, British intelligence and the other agencies mentioned by the Guardian thought there was no doubt but that Hillary would win. How could they curry favor with the new administration, expected to be Obama’s third term? By feeding negative information about the opponent who was sure to lose, even though there was no real significance to the intelligence provided.
That’s what happened. The fact that liberals still try to push the “Russia” story, even when it is obvious that they are out of ammo, is pathetic.”
Pathetic is far too nice a word.
It’s also too nice a word for what my wondering eyes saw on CNN last week, the day after many of Trump’s policy reversals on various issues—China’s alleged currency manipulation, Janet Yellen, NATO, and others. John Berman and Poppy Harlow as well as a panel of studio guest were giggling, laughing and openly ridiculing President Trump like a bunch of mean girls in the locker room. This went on for a long segment, and continued after commercials. It was nasty and personal, and nauseating.
I found the personal level of ridicule and sexual innuendo President Clinton received on the Tonight Show during the Monica scandal revolting and harmful to the office. The utter contempt with which David Letterman treated President Bush was also excessive and in bad taste, catering to hate–but at least these were comedians and satirists. I watch a lot of TV news, and I would venture that no news team, ever, anywhere, has acted in front of the cameras so disrespectfully regarding a President: not Clinton, not Nixon, not Johnson, Ford or Bush. (Of course, nothing but dreamy-eyed worship accompanied stories about President Obama.) For broadcast journalists to sit smirking and giggling over the actions of the President of the United States is cultural poison. It rots the fabric of the union, and risks injuring the office permanently as well as the prestige of the United States. CNN has always been terrible about permitting facial expressions, tones of voice and body language to signal their anchors’ political biases, and what I witnessed last week was what will happen when basic standards of professionalism are not maintained and enforced. The next step would be reporters openly jeering, holding their noses and gagging at every Presidential clip. CNN may get there yet. I never thought they could sink as low as they have.
A competent director would have called a halt to such unprofessional on-air behavior, and suspensions and dismissals would follow. This is hate and bias at its worst, showing a complete abandonment of basic civic responsibility. Yes, you criticize a POTUS as hard and as vigorously as the facts support. Ethical journalists do not engage in mockery and open contempt, and particularly, they do not treat the nation’s institutions this way, virtually spitting on them live, and coast to coast. It is not merely unethical journalism, but unethical citizenship
Yet this is CNN.