Let’s take a moment to talk about the impossible job it must be to be a member of the mainstream media. The right has had a nearly 50 year assault on the mainstream media, but the appearance of 45 is like the invention of the atomic bomb in terms of damage, tactics, and abject horror that he causes to those in the media.
Ms. Savannah Guthrie drew the short straw last night and was forced to moderate the event thrown together at the last minute. First, we should talk about the event itself. Why was it being held? Trump pulled out of the debate because he refused to abide by the rules that the debate commission put forth. Why should he be rewarded with prime time airtime? The answer is pretty simple when you think about it.
The right has spent 50 years telling you that the mainstream media is liberal. The reasons for this are simple. Slowly but surely over time they know you won’t trust what they tell you. If you can’t trust traditional news sources then you will turn to unconventional news sources. That’s when folks like Q’Anon take hold. Suddenly a YouTube video becomes news. When YouTube is a more trusted source than the Washington Post or New York Times you know conservative strategy has worked.
The secondary benefit is that mainstream media bends and cavorts itself to seem fair. They report things from both sides and bend over backwards to try to give equal airtime to multiple points of view. So the anti climate changers are given equal airtime with scientists that agree there is climate change affected by humans. Anti-vaccine zealots are given equal airtime with rational doctors and scientists that promote being responsible. Anti-maskers are given equal access to media.
Fair is a four letter word. We teach our children that fairness is not about giving everyone the same thing. Fairness is about giving everyone what they are due. If I don’t offer anything worthwhile and I’m not adding anything to productive conversation then I’m not due anything. Yet, the president and his minions complain and complain and complain and complain and complain.
So, poor Ms. Guthrie is left in the hot seat last night. She has the difficult choice of challenging an incredibly sophomoric bullshit artist and coming off as being mean and a never Trumper or she can let it all slide, lob softballs and hope no one notices she has just surrendered her integrity and dignity. It’s not an easy choice. She is being vilified by his supporters today. I get that if you watched both nights side by side that you would see that if your conception of fairness is that people get treated the same then you would conclude it wasn’t fair.
This is why we are here in the first place. So many people think that’s what it means to be fair. The mainstream media has given into that mode of thinking. If we ask person A a tough question then we must also do it to person B. When we caught Donald in all kinds of unprecedented corruption then we had to harp on Hillary’s emails. We had to harp on Benghazi. We had to harp on the pay for play aspects of the Clinton Foundation.
We couldn’t focus on the degrees of corruption in Trump world. We mentioned it, but somehow considered it equivalent. There are degrees of badness. There are degrees of evil. There are degrees of maleficence. Yet, millions walked into the voting booth and thought. “He’s bad. She’s bad. I’m voting for him.” Now, we’ve hopefully learned that lesson. Yet, the mainstream media is still caught in the trap of normalizing everything. They feel like they have to or else people will see them as biased. Here’s the dirty little secret: they’ll see you as biased no matter what you do, so you might as well actually do some honest reporting and let the chips fall where they may.