I can’t even keep track of the subordinate ethics train wrecks and sub-train wrecks emanating from the Biggest Ethics Train Wreck of Them All, the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, wherein the furious defeated Democratic Party/progressive/NeverTrump/news media collective set out to undermine the new Presidency, and to overthrow the Presidency if possible. This forms the backdrop, wrote Liz Shield yesterday, for
“every aspect of public discourse on Trump and Trump-related matters..the news on the Pittsburgh synagogue slaughter falls into this category and the strongest narrative on the tragedy is that Trump inspired this/is responsible because he hates Jews/is antisemitic/didn’t condemn the white supremacists or whatever flimsy excuses the resistance needs to blame Trump. In reality, Trump is probably the most pro-Israel president the U.S. has ever had…Those of us who are not in the #resistance are getting lectured on toning down our rhetoric from left-wing hysterics shouting all kinds of slanderous and intemperate accusations…So I am supposed to believe that calling Trump supporters Nazis, white supremacists, sexists, and homophobes is just the right thing to do but Trump’s rhetoric is pouring gasoline on a burning fire of crazy activists? Or perhaps violence in the name of the leftist agenda is just fine? I think that’s it.”
I agree. That’s it indeed. The same is obviously true of the level of rhetoric. Violent, hateful, extreme rhetoric has been coming from the anti-Trump news media for two years, and there are a lot more of them than there are of him, which is one. It takes an immense amount of journalism gall and the assumption of public gullibility for the news media to argue that the President has created a culture of hate. Says Fox’s Lone Conservative Comic Greg Guttfield, “You want hate? You spend two years calling a guy Hitler, a racist, a traitor, and insane — then you blame him for violence cuz of nicknames?”
No previous President has been attacked using such extreme rhetoric or would have, and no President who was would have survived it without defending himself while calling his critics what they were.
[ A brief digression on “enemy of the people.” President Trump once again described the news media as the enemies of the people. I have, reluctantly, concluded that the label is accurate and justified, and that the President is right in affixing it. This has horrified many here. I agree that calling a crucial democratic institution a public enemy is extreme and dangerous. However,
…More dangerous to a democracy still is a crucial democratic institution perverting its professional and institutional obligations and using its public trust to attack and undermine the democracy it exists to serve;
…That is what the mainstream news media has chosen to do, rejecting objectivity and independence for a hard partisan alliance, depriving the public of a fair and truthful account of events and developing issues;
… The absence of a trustworthy and functioning journalistic establishment will, in the long run and if uncorrected, render our democracy dysfunctional and inoperable, to the detriment of the American public and the world.
…Therefore this deliberate, reckless course threatens the people, and since there is no unbiased Fifth Estate to warn them, it falls to the only remaining democratic institution with the ability to do so to assume the task, the Presidency.
….”Enemy of the people” is a shocking and damning accusation, and its full power is essential if journalists are to realize that they are on a destructive oath.]
This adversary position does place any ethical journalist left standing in peril of perishing in the crossfire, and being run down by the various careering trains despite his or her best efforts. On CNN’s “The Lead With Jake Tapper”this week, GQ magazine correspondent Julia Ioffe was joined by David Urban, Symone Sanders (who is a documented idiot and bigot) and Mona Charen on a panel to discuss the effects of combative rhetoric, primarily the President’s. CNN’s Don Lemon’s statement that “The president of the United States is racist,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough assertion that “Even Albert Einstein may have ended up in a Nazi concentration camp with Donald Trump’s viewpoint on immigration,” and MSNBC’s Donnie Deutsch’s smear that “If you vote for Trump, then you the voter, you – not Donald Trump – are standing at the border like Nazis going ‘you here, you here!,” among others, were not discussed. Ioff, best known perhaps for being fired from Politico for suggesting that the President was having an incestuous relationship was his daughter (or in her words, was “fucking” Ivana), decided to compare the President of the United States to ISIS.
“I think this president, one of the things that he really launched his presidential run on is talking about Islamic radicalization. And this president has radicalized so many more people than ISIS ever did. I mean, the way he talks, the way he — the way he –” Ioffe sputtered. Urban interrupted, “That’s just — it’s unconscionable for you to say that,” .
Ioffe resumed, “The way that he talks, the way that he allows these — the way he winks and nods to these groups. The way he says, I know I’m not supposed to say it, but I’m a nationalist. The way that he hems and haws when he has to condemn these people, gritting his teeth says, says fine, OK, I condemn this.”
Urban then turned to Tapper: “Hold on. For you not to push back on that — for her to say, the president of the United States has radicalized more people than ISIS is irresponsible,”
Tapper then said, weakly, “OK, you disagree.” He was later sharply criticized by many on social media, including Republican National Committee’s Steve Guest, for not drawing a hard line at a statement as vicious as Ioffe’s. Tapper defended himself, tweeting, “As [I] explained live on air, I went right to @monacharenEPPC and @DavidJUrban to debate her, and they were eager to do so. It’s a panel not an interview.”
To some extent I sympathize with Tapper’s plight. Before going to CNN, he was one of the very few mainstream media broadcast news reporters whom I regarded as making a professional effort to be fair despite his own views. Unfortunately, at CNN he is immersed in an unethical and biased culture. It would be remarkable if he could resist being adversely influenced by this culture, and he hasn’t. He’s been corrupted. Why was a disgraced journalist like Ioffe (and Sanders) permitted on such a panel? Yes, I know: she had written shortly after the shooting on Saturday,
“And a word to my fellow American Jews: This president makes this possible. Here. Where you live. I hope the embassy move over there [in Israel], where you don’t live was worth it.”
Really, CNN? Someone can qualify as a responsible pundit by writing something as crazy as that? Well, yes, this is CNN: if you denigrate the President, logically or not, that’s good enough to put you on a panel. Still, a competent moderator has to step in when a panelist goes too far and enters the realm of hysteria and partisan hate. Even Ioffe realized that comparing the President to a murderous terrorist organization while arguing that extreme rhetoric risks igniting violence was, shall we say, hypocritical. She later tweeted,
“This has been a very emotional and painful time, but I absolutely should not have gone with such hyperbole on the air. I apologize.”
1) She is a professional, allegedly, and if a journalist can’t mainstain professional objectivity and self-control during “emotional and painful times” she is useless, and needs to find a nice, quiet, out of the way—Maine, maybe—bait shop to run and get the hell off the air.
2) Oh, it’s hyperbole now? On the programs, she insisted that her statement that the President had radicalized more people than ISIS was true, responding to Urban with, “ISIS had like 10,000 members. I think the president has far more supporters who espouse an equally hateful ideology.”
3) Who is she apologizing to? The person she smeared was President Trump.
The critics of her, Tapper and CNN had common sense and reality on their side. Tweeted one to Tapper,
“Not hyperbolic. More like irresponsible and dangerous. (Not to mention downright crazy) And you just sat there. Why don’t we trust you? This. Trump isn’t destroying CNN. You guys are doing that all on your own.”
“And you got what you wanted… @jaketapper why don’t we go back to just basic reporting? Man I miss the news and I can’t find it on any network.”
“You knew what insane crap she wrote over the weekend, and she continued the verbal diarrhea on your panel, yet no one said anything until the social media chimed in. Weak.”
No, not weak: inevitable, when the news media has taken the position that it is its mission to enable and facilitate the most extreme and irresponsible critics of the President. This process is duplicated in various forums and at various levels across the media, every hour of every day. The societal carnage it will lead to has only just begun.