Many readers were able to guess the impetus for this post; indeed, several readers brought it to my attention yesterday.
Monday, as part of the embarrassing faux speculation by the Trump-Haters in the news media about whether networks were obligated to treat this President’s Oval Office address differently than similar addresses by all other Presidents, CNN host Don Lemon opined that perhaps President Trump’s immigration speech should be withheld, censored and edited before the stupid, gullible, vulnerable American people have their minds poisoned by its lies:
“Do you think it should be, I don’t know, a delay of some sort and then you can — because people will believe it,” the Orwellian CNN host said. “People — the president will say what he has to say. People will believe it whether the facts are true or not… I guess that’s a chance you take with any President. But this one is different, and then, by the time the rebuttals come on, we’ve already promoted propaganda — possibly — unless he gets up there and tells the truth.”
- This would be a “KABOOM!” coming from any network talking head before November 2016. Now, coming from Lemon and CNN, it is still shocking, but far from head-exploding.
When you have no journalism ethics, you have no journalism ethics. Anything is possible.
- “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!”
Lemon’s musing’s are res ipsa loquitur. They prove bias beyond a shadow of a doubt. What’s “the truth,” Don? Who made you the arbiter of “the truth”?
- “This one is different” is a replay of the New York Times’ shark jump during the 2016 campaign, when on the front page, it declared that Donald Trump was such a threat (to the Times’s own view of the healthy status quo–you know, Democrats) that it justified abandoning objectivity and neutrality in its reporting. That was the day American journalism’s music died, and when it forfeited the public trust.
Sure, Trump is “different,” but all Presidents are “different.” The important point is that he’s also the same as every President: an elected leader who has a right to be treated with the same respect and accorded the same courtesies as every previous President. Lemon was mouthing cant that is antithetical to ethical journalism.
- Using the “bully pulpit” to promote Presidential policies is always a form of propaganda, because such speeches are political by nature and design. Newspapers reprint the speeches, radio and TV broadcast it. A Trump speech is no more propaganda than an Obama speech, and the news media’s job is not to approve it or censor it, nor is the media responsible for whatever advocacy or manipulation such speeches inevitably contain.
Was Lemon stricken with an aching conscience because CNN facilitated Obama’s deliberate deceptions about the Affordable Care Act? No, and there was no reason he should have been.
- How do we know Lemon charged across ethical lines so thick that even the most unethical and biased journalists are not tempted to cross them? We know because the ridiculously biased, ignorant, incompetent CNN star, Chris Cuomo—he who has claimed that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the First Amendment, among other botches—looked at Lemon when he made his statement as if his collegue had proclaimed, “I am Emperor of Lilliput!,” and said,
“He has his right to make the argument to the American people. And by the way,wanting barriers along the border is not propaganda. It’s not immoral, it’s not wrong.”
When even the second worst journalist in the room can tell that you’re bonkers, it’s time to consider alternate employment. Indeed it’s time for you to be forced into alternate employment.
No trustworthy journalist would advocate what Lemon did. No trustworthy news organization would employ a journalist who did. Lemon was actually claiming that it is proper for journalists to intentionally filter what the public is allowed to hear and read, when the journalist decides that such censorship is necessary. His statements are signature significance for an unethical, unreliable journalism who sees his role as an arbiter of what the public should be allowed to know, which is antithetical to believing in the public’s right to know. His statemnst are also facist in intent and nature. What he advocated is hostile to democracy, which holds that every individual has the right to know as much about public matters as possible and our nation’s leaders views on them, and to make up his or her own mind, rather than being forced into the camp by elites who deem that they are smarter and more virtuous, and should be able to withhold or distort information as they please “for the greater good.”
No journalist who could consider what Lemon proposed on the air can be trusted, ever again, to deliver news, facts or truth without selectively editing or distorting them.
I have seen friends, relatives and, of course, Ethics Alarms commenter who I believe have been cognitively damaged by the relentless cultural hatred and hysteria sparked by the 2016 elections. Most of them have occupations where this emotional/mental imbalance shouldn’t affect their job performance, but that is not true when the fever strikes a journalist or a pundit. It renders them unethical, untrustworthy, incompetent, and in most instances redundant and boring. Such journalists should all be offered counseling and leaves of absence, but when they have been driven to reject the most basic principles of journalism and democracy, there is no responsible course but to fire them.
Lemon must be fired, and if he is not, we must conclude that CNN has rejected ethical journalism and democracy itself.
As I have suspected for some time…