Media and Trump’s Russian “papers.

Media and Trump’s Russian “papers.

The flexible “standards” of reporting that Margaret Sullivan tries to defend in her piece in the Washington Post of January 13, 2017, is another example of the self-serving flexibility of the way the standard is used. She sanctimoniously asserts the purity of most of the media while criticizing Buzz-Feed and CNN. In reality, this is just another example of how the media hypocritically protects itself by asserting ethics, when its real motive is fear.
Kudos to Buzz-Feed for its courage, and to a lesser degree CNN Slate and Mother Jones who acknowledged the existence of this non-media initiated report of “unconfirmed” information that is much like the way Donald Trump does every time he speaks.

Why is this different from reports on “unconfirmed” separation of celebrities, possible wrong-doing at public agencies, corporations, or private foundations? Or even people who are accused of crimes and not yet tried for them—e.g. Police or politician misconduct, the President’s birth certificate or “sightings” of public figures in inappropriate circumstances.

The issue here is: treating the “Russian data” differently from others. Listening to “talking heads” on network media (e.g. CSNBC, Fox, etc.) and their “washing of hands” in almost Biblical fashion (WE wouldn’t do that!) is sickening. We know Trump will retaliate—isn’t he already doing it to CNN?

The Russian report, just like Trump’s lies, exaggerations, innuendos, and misrepresentations, is “unconfirmed.” Why is it being treated differently—that is, NOT reported immediately, as Trump’s are—and only then (sometimes—because of the volume) “vetted.?” The public’s “right to know” seems to depend, according to Sullivan and the “purists” she cites, on how much grief the media may encounter.
Of course the public has a right to know about this. Didn’t the FBI’s Comey say so about investigations of the Clinton servers and related matters, even though none of them rose to the level of “truth.?”
Save us the phony sanctimony, and let’s call media ethics what they are—flexible, depending on who among us may get hurt. As for the public’s “need to know,” save it for the sports pages and supermarket tabloids.

John H. Langer, JD, Ed.D. Retired Federal agency manger, former professor of education, public school administrator, and writer of a number of articles and publications on education, public affairs, substance abuse and social issues. In writing a book on attention and memory as it relates to education, this blog is helping to focus attention n current issues, and hopefully, add something useful as well.

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