by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Ever since postwar American journalism sacrificed its soul on the altar of celebrity sometime in the mid-’80s, a terrible day of reckoning for the craft has been in the works. The “gets” and the gotchas, the “how do you respond to” questions, the how-do-you-feels; the unseemly scrums, the willingness to endure any humiliation from their betters in the hopes of basking, however fleetingly, in reflected glory — that day finally arrived this week with a series of unforced errors that has stripped bare the profession’s pretenses to objectivity and truth-seeking, and exposed them for the tawdry, politicized whores they really are.
Harsh words, perhaps, but the truth hurts.
The most recent spate of self-inflicted media disasters is not the end but the beginning — of the media’s end. Brian Ross should have not been taken off the Trump beat by ABC, but should have been fired outright for incompetence in his eagerness to further tarnish Michael Flynn. News reports that the Grand Inquisitor, Robert Mueller, had subpoenaed Trump family records from Deutsche Bank turned out to be false. Most egregious of all was the CNN cock-up in which one of its reporters rushed on the air with an anonymously sourced “scoop” that turned out to be the biggest nothingburger yet served up by Jeff Zucker’s hell’s kitchen of mis- and disinformation. …
… To anyone over the age of 50 in journalism, this was simply astounding. One of any reporter’s first principles is to be skeptical of freely proffered skinny, especially from sources who demand anonymity in exchange for your possible career advancement. Not every disembodied voice on the phone is a “whistle blower” nor is every random email a Pulitzer-in-waiting — such “sources” are in fact as self-interested, and sometimes malevolent, as anybody else with an axe to grind. That today’s doe-eyed reporters fall for this ruse time and again speaks not only to the hiring practices of these crumbling journalistic edifices, but of the mind-set of those doing the hiring. Personnel, as the saying goes, is policy.