“Does the press have any responsibility for tearing down Trump’s credibility right when we need it? I’d say they should be scrupulously careful not to do any of the ordinary political partisanship that had already badly infected journalism. There’s a lot of ruined credibility out there. Everyone ought to be trying to crawl back toward the truth. I think Trump — in his daily briefings — has been “appeal[ing] to common values and emphasiz[ing] moral standards and solidarity.” But the Trump-hating media will not help him do this. They’re looking for ways to blame him, to worsen his credibility. Why not help?”
——Bloggress Ann Althouse, reacting to one more New York Times Trump-hate piece, this one called “Trump’s ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ Is a Delusion;”yesterday’s (by Obama’s disinformation chief, Susan Rice) was “Trump Is the Wartime President We Have (Not the One We Need)/He should start leading with the decency and resolve that we deserve. I’m not holding my breath”
The answer to Ann’s rhetorical question is “of course they do,” and I mainstain hope that a sufficient number of citizens will hold them responsible for an unprecedneted breach of tradition, duty and common sense. Attacking and undermining any leader in the midst of a national challenge is irresponsible and dangerous, yet virtually all of the mainstream media is not only doing it but doing it with increasing intensity. (The exception is Fox News, which is condemned for not pitching in.)
If the President has not done or said anything that can spun into a reason to distrust him, then the news media will concoct something. Yesterday, many sources, including some conservative ones, had a version of this headline (from the Daily Mail): “Donald Trump says he will ‘look at’ pardoning Tiger King’s Joe Exotic after Don Jr. said zoo-owner’s 22-year prison sentence for murder-for-hire seemed ‘aggressive'”
I was fooled. “Oh, God,” I thought. “With everything going on, the President is worried about Joe Exotic, the lunatic bigamist/self-promoting walking freak show who is serving well-earned prison time for hiring a hit man? The media will crucify him for this.” Then I read the facts:
- At a press briefing on the pandemic, The New York Post’s Steven Nelson asked the President about Don Jr.’s off-hand remark in an interview that the sentence handed down to the “star” of Netflix’s hit documentary “Tiger King” seemed “aggressive.” It was a stupid question, and Trump should have told the reporter so, as he so often does. But it referenced his son, so he allowed himself to get sucked in.
- He told the reporter he had no idea who the “Tiger King” was or what the reporter was referring to, but that he would “look into it.”
- That does not mean he was considering pardoning the idiot, or would, and it definitely didn’t suggest that he had decided to give serious consideration to the matter at all. It was an issue entirely raised by a reporter, and inappropriately.
The exchange was not news worthy or headline-worthy, except to further the narrative that the President is sympathetic to jailed con-artists (like Michael Milken) and to deceptively link the President to a disreputable character—whom he knows nothing about.
Meanwhile, CNN has, to use the technical term, flipped out in its rampaging Trump hate. Jake Tapper‘s tweet that the President was insane turned out to be the tip of an ugly and unethical iceberg of abandoned journalism standards. Don Lemon, an alleged CNN news anchor (please reference again the open letter from journalism profs about unethical opinion infecting Fox News) launched into an epic rant against the President of the United States that could be fairly summarized as “Ooooooh!!! I hate him SO MUCH!”:
“This is a president who just cannot handle the truth.A president who has to make everything about him. He needs to be praised at every second. He is so thin-skinned. A president who just loses it whenever he hears someone or something that he perceives as criticism..Did you ever think you’d hear the president of the United States react that way? Ever? I know some of you think it’s cute. It’s not. It’s sad. It’s sad. I have to be honest with you. For the last couple of weeks, when I walk into this building, I get in front of this camera, I swear I feel like I’m in the movie ‘Network.’ I feel like Howard Beale. Americans are mad as hell. What are you going to — how much more can Americans take? Every single day berating people, lying. First, [the epidemic] is a hoax.Then, ‘All along I knew it was serious. It was a pandemic.’ How much more? How many people have to die? Americans, are you mad as hell? How much more are you going to take?”
From the history of American news broadcasting up to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann’s shattering of all professional standards with his attacks on President Bush, no on-air personality could have keep his or her job after an on air rant like that. Like Nancy Pelosi’s speech-tearing stunt, it crosses all established lines regarding acceptable conduct regarding a President. Lemon, as a gay, black, openly partisan “star” who had received CNN’s clear signals that he is immune from oversight or accountability, abandoned journalistic integrity and ethics just as blatantly as the fictional Howard Beale, who, if you know the movie, had a psychotic break. That’s the journalistic standard Lemon is adopting. That is the standard CNN is accepting.
But wait, there’s more! In quarantine because he is infected with the Wuhan virus, Chris Cuomo—not that he has any conflict of interest because his brother is being prominently mentioned as a likely nominee for President when Joe Biden starts speaking in tongues and announces that he is Marie of Rumania—decided to take his own shot at the President:
“It has to be time for truth, we don’t have time for any more BS, too many are sick, and the remedy is straight information, realistic plans that you trust, and us using that to tap into our national superpower.No one comes together in crisis like America. But we only come together when we’re on the same page. So together, as ever, as one, let’s get after it! Is it fair to say that this is the most deaths that we will see on any day? Why or why not? The last thing anybody needs is more BS. I know, I hear you, you’re reaching out to me from all over the country, you have just one request. That all the games end, you’ve always seen through them. And you tell me the only thing more sickening to you in this collective than the virus is being lied to about what’s going on, I know.So let’s expose something that you’ve been to, for, about, for too long….Anybody can tell people what they want to hear and make it easy. And then you know what you get? Exactly where we are, right now. That was the most asinine statement of leadership I have ever heard. And I can’t even dismiss it on the president having a 102 fever like I do, because that is clear thinking from him. I’m a cheerleader so I’m gonna lie to you about the realities that your parents, your loved ones, and your kids face. I’m not gonna prepare the way I should because it reinforces the bullshit I’m telling you, and I’m gonna hope that you’re OK with it! We’ve got to do better than that! This president must do better than that!”
This isn’t journalism. It’s not competent punditry either, but pure emotionalism. It’s a harangue, self-indulgent and pointless, except, again, to reinforce the position that this President, unlike all others before him, does not deserve the basic deference of a respectful tone and attitude, the presumption of good will, and coverage by reporters, journalists and news organizations who detest him and want to see him fail.
“They’re looking for ways to blame him, to worsen his credibility. Why not help?”
Because they are incompetent, arrogant, unethical hacks, professor; unprofessional, biased, hateful and divisive. They have forfeited all credibility except among those who are allied with their mission. It’s as simple as that.