I long have considered it a terrible journalistic sin for the media to become part of the story they are covering.
I worked in the media for nearly four decades and I managed over that span of time to steer clear of any discussion of an issue I was covering. Occasionally an organization that employed me would get entangled in the story; they would manage to wriggle themselves free.
The Age of Trump has produced an entirely different dynamic.
He labels the media the “enemy of the people.” His followers buy into it. They demonstrate in front of cable, broadcast and print reporters seeking only to do their job.
It’s getting weird to watch the news these days and hear all these references to cable networks involved so deeply in the covering of current events. For instance:
- Fox News Channel has been banned from Democratic primary presidential debates because it has become a virtual arm of the Trump administration. Its commentators are known to be in constant communication with Donald Trump, reportedly offering policy advice to the president.
- CNN, MSNBC are on the other end of the spectrum. Their commentators take great delight in chastising their colleagues at Fox. Meanwhile, Fox fires back at their competitors/colleagues. Oh, and the president hangs “fake news” labels on all media that report news that he finds disagreeable.
It all reminds of an athletic event where the attention turns to the referee. You want to concentrate on the athletes, not the individuals who discern whether they’re breaking the rules.
We’re concentrating increasingly on the media reporting of the issues at hand, and less so on the actual issues that are being discussed.
It’s a distressing trend that appears — to my way of thinking — to have no possible exit for the media.