It wasn’t so long ago that The Cable Gamer ruminated a bit about the rules of journalism: the open, public rules, as well as the rules (the sub-rosa “way things are” that are rarely spoken of outside the innerest of inner circles). A Donald Trump controversy was the catalyst then, and in an amazing coincidence it is now as well.
The rules, as TCG explained back then, are those areas where impartial, non-partisan journalists get to play pundit—taking positions, calling out politicians, slanting stories—as media critics and journalism professors look the other way. We’ve seen it a lot with same-sex marriage and immigration, and now the emergence of Donald Trump and his ill-considered comments about John McCain have created an instant codicil to the rules. Green lights to “fire at will.”
We saw it with Luke Russert, supposedly a correspondent for NBC News who also slums on MSNBC, even occasionally hosting news programs and opinion shows there. Appearing with Andrea Mitchell he got personal about Mr. Trump, calling his hair “fake,” opining that he’s “really out there” with his “out of bounds comments.”
But that was nothing compared to CNN’s morning journalist Chris Cuomo (brother of a sitting Democratic governor). His attack on Trump didn’t require special glasses but it was in 3-D, as he ridiculed the candidate’s “disposition, dyspepsia, and demagoguery.” You know, just like an opinion host would do. No shocked eyebrows raised among the journalistic intelligentsia. See? The new rule is already in effect.
So let’s take it a step further. How about targeting journalists who are not attacking Trump? That sounds like a job for Media Matters:
Fox Host Blames John McCain For Trump’s Inflammatory Comments
This smear of Harris Faulkner is apparently based on two statements: one is a question (she asked if John McCain started the war of words by calling Trump supporters “crazies”), and one a report of a fact (that Donald Trump said McCain should apologize for that comment).
Did Harris Faulkner actually blame McCain for Trump’s attacks? No. Yet a Media Matters headline insists she did, while they conveniently neglect to provide any sort of a transcript beyond one meticulously edited sentence fragment. Ms. Faulkner’s real crime was she didn’t attack Donald Trump. Well that, and working for Fox News.