No, Journalists Have Not Done a “Pretty Good” Job Covering Trump/Russia
Showing what is either a stunning lack of self-awareness or a shameful circle-the-wagons approach to media criticism, reporter Carl Bernstein – famous for unearthing the Watergate scandal in the 1970s – said this weekend that he was proud of the way the American news media had covered Ye Olde Collusion story.
“Our record as journalists in covering this Trump story and the Russian story is pretty good,” Bernstein said on CNN, miraculously not drawing guffaws from off camera.
Not only is that statement laughable on its face, any reporter or media critic who doesn’t characterize the press’s approach to Trump/Russia (or just Trump) as some of the worst journalism in the history of this nation is smoking something good.
Not that we would expect much better from Bernstein, whose star has fallen since his heyday. In fact, it was Bernstein himself who was involved in the CNN story that brought the Trump/Russia dossier to public light in December 2016 with salacious reporting. Reporting that failed to mention, naturally, that this dossier was the product of Hillary Clinton’s opposition research funding. It was – and is – scandalous tripe that was complied so that Clinton could win the election. And the fact that she never used it is proof that even she saw it for the phony baloney that it was.
But we digress, because reporting on the dossier is only one of many ways the American news media has failed the public this year. We’ve never seen a period of 12 months filled with so much inaccurate, after-the-fact-corrected stories. And while we appreciate that journalists have been fired and otherwise disciplined when caught peddling fiction to the public, there’s one big problem with that: These stories should have never passed editorial muster in the first place. A “correction” never hits as hard as the original story, meaning it is of the utmost importance that these outlets get it right the first time. But when it comes to Trump and Russia, that’s seldom the case.
Reported: That Robert Mueller subpoenaed Trump’s Deutsche Bank records. FALSE.
Reported: That Donald Trump Jr. got a heads-up in advance when WikiLeaks was set to publish leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee. FALSE.
Reported: That the Trump/Dossier had been proven largely correct. SO FALSE.
Reported: That Trump, as a candidate for president, told Michael Flynn to contact the Russians. FALSE.
And we didn’t have to stretch back more than a week to get these stories. It’s not as if this has been a particularly bad week for Trump/Russia reporting, it’s that this is indicative of a constant, yearlong onslaught of barely-vetted reporting that is either being shoveled out for ratings or for the purpose of turning the American people against the president. Likely both.
Either way, it is quickly deteriorating the public’s trust in the media, as is evident from a number of recent polls.
If this is “pretty good” reporting, we’d hate to see what bad journalism looks like.