Sam Nunberg is a twice fired Trump aide who has been caught up in the Special Prosecutor’s fishing expedition. Yesterday, he decided to make a desperate grab for fame, infamy, attention…who knows? Taking advantage of the now thoroughly AWOL ethics of what we once called “journalism, he arranged a phone interview with MSNBC’s Trump-hating Katy Tur in the afternoon. Then the sharks moved in. That interview was picked up by both ABC’s World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News. Then Nunberg went on a veritable swim-with-the-sharks orgy, with six interviews media interviews within four hours. He appeared on set with MSNBC’s Ari Melber, then sat down with Erin Burnett on CNN. She had him on camera for more than a half-hour, during which he announced his intent to defy Mueller’s subpoena. Then he did a phone interview with NY1 in which he called Sarah Huckabee Sanders a “fat slob.”
Here was the most significant exchange among all of these:
Burnett: You’re sitting very close to me. We talked earlier about what people in the White House were saying to you, talking about whether you were drinking or on drugs. Talking to you, I have smelled alcohol on your breath.
Nunberg: I have not had a drink.
Burnett: You haven’t had a drink. Because it is the talk out there. I know it’s awkward. Let me give you the question: No, you haven’t had a drink?
Nunberg: My answer is no.
Burnett: Anything else?
Nunberg: No. Besides my meds. Anti-depressants. Is that okay?
I cannot begin to count the number of times I have asked a friend or loved one if he or she has been drinking because I smelled liquor on them. The answer is always “no” or some variation of it. And they are always, always, lying. Any adult of normal experience knows this is true, including Burnett. But she’a a shark, not a journalist, not a professional, and certainly not an ethical human being. She smelled blood in the water, and its alcohol percentage didn’t bother her a bit.
Of course, one didn’t need to smell Nunberg to know that he was either impaired or ill. It was obvious. I can hardly believe that I have to write this, but it is not ethical journalism to interview people who are drunk, drugged, impaired, or not in a mentally or emotionally stable state. Yet these disgusting, partisan sharks interviewed Nunberg knowing they were deceiving their audience into believing that anything he said could be taken seriously (I know, I know, they also have interviewed Debbie Wasserman Schultz. But that was different: she was an official spokesperson). If Burnett could smell his breath, they all could smell his breath (except during the phone interview, unless he was VERY drunk). Then the second wave of sharks picked over the remains of Nunberg’s dignity, like Stephen Colbert, who was so gleeful that HE seemed drunk. Would any of the journalists, or Colbert, think it was fair if they were put in TV while impaired? Wait, what am I talking about? Sharks observing the Golden Rule? Maybe I’M drunk…
“Here’s what it was: A sad, epic meltdown — a troubled Trump flunky, pecked at and picked apart like roadkill on the Russia Interstate, in his last gasps of public fame and shame. …Why it matters: This is one of the reasons America hates the media. Our entire industry lit itself on fire because a troubled Trump hanger-on made an ass of himself — live.
One of Nunberg’s friends was furious, telling Axios that the anchors were knowingly taking advantage of an obviously fragile man. The friend, who refused to be named but interacts constantly with journalists, texted an anchor during a live interview: “What the hell is wrong with you people? … Shame on you. This isn’t news.”
CNN’s fake media ethics watchdog Brian Stelter, asked yesterday, “Now an ethical debate is raging in journalism circles. If your source seems drunk or drugged or just plain out of his mind, what is your responsibility?”
That sums up the state of American non-journalism as well as anything I’ve ever seen. This is profession-wide Constanza-ism:
Of course you don’t interview some one who seems drunk or drugged or just plain out of his mind. This has to be asked? By the journalism ethics guy? It’s a raging debate? Is it ethical to have business negotiations when someone is “drunk or drugged or just plain out of his mind”? Let them drive a car? Call them as a witness? Perform brain surgery? Go on stage? Watch over a child? Deposit money in a bank (like Uncle Billy)? Go into a job interview? Do anything but go home and sleep it off, or get medical attention?
Hmm...is is ethical to shout, “Hey everybody! This poor sap is bombed or nuts, and we can probably get him to say something bad about the President! Let’s nail him! Get him on camera!”
The frightening thing is that for these people whose competence and judgments we depend on to understand our country, it IS a tough one.
In related news, habitual unethical CNN reporter Jim Accosta yesterday complained to Huckabee-Sanders that his network not being called upon during the daily White House press briefing, noting it was the third straight time, shouting as she exited the session, shouting,
“Sarah, this is the third briefing you have not taken a question from CNN. Do you expect the Justice Department to enforce all subpoenas, Sarah?”
She should have told Accosta when CNN starts conducting itself like a news organization rather than a supermarket tabloid or a traveling carnival, she’d be happy to call on him. At this point, however, the White House is being generous allowing Accosta to attend at all.
Nunberg announced today that he was going to seek treatment. I wish him well: that’s the responsible thing to do.
When is CNN and the rest of the rotting journalism establishment going to seek treatment? Or at least shark repellent?