The media’s lack of ethics during the Trump era has become as visible as the sun on a clear day. To the extent that any mask existed previously, that’s been completely ripped off. There was a day when single sources, anonymous reports never made it out the door. Now they are the norm, at least when targeting a Republican. This is what the orange man being bad does to the news industry.
On that issue, I want to address a new “report” from last night purporting that Bill Barr is trashing President Trump.
Great new reporting from @jamiegangel: A source familiar with the dynamic between AG Barr and Trump right now says Barr cannot be intimidated by Trump, “none of this matters— it’s the deposed King ranting. Irrelevant to the course of justice and to Trump’s election loss..” #CNN
— lisa mirando (@LisaMirandoCNN) December 13, 2020
If that’s “great new” reporting, then I’d hate to see what bad reporting is. I almost spit my drink out when I read the sourcing here. When did it become acceptable to run with a story based on an anonymous “source familiar with the dynamic between” as the entire basis? I know we are talking about CNN here, but this seems like a new low to me.
Seriously, think about how far gone that source is from resembling anything credible. It’s not a source that actually heard something. They also aren’t putting their name behind it to give anything weight. Instead, this is a person who is probably 3-4 levels removed from Barr claiming that he knows the “dynamic,” which is purposely vague and generalized to obscure the fact that he actually knows nothing directly. Yet, CNN ran with it anyway.
And look, while I’m sure Barr isn’t too happy with Trump’s recent criticism, he’s also smart enough to never say something that would give the impression he views the president as a “deposed King ranting.” That sounds exactly like the editorialized language of some beltway flack, not something Barr has actually said or believes.
I say all this to say that I’m not giving CNN the benefit of the doubt here. And while many of the responses to Mirando’s tweet claim this is how “sourcing works,” that’s completely false. No supposedly reputable news outlet releases a report based on a single, third-hand, anonymous source that can’t even provide a real quote. That’s not even tabloid level journalism. It’s just bush league, partisan narrative driving at its worst.
Here’s what this is really about. The media want to orchestrate a big blowout on the way out the door. This is all meant to goad Trump into firing Barr so as to discredit the Durham and Hunter Biden investigations. Trump should not take the bait. He may be mad at Barr, and truth be told, I’m mad at Barr for not revealing the Hunter Biden investigations prior to the election so voters could decide, but acting rashly now would only help Joe Biden. And clearly, handing Joe Biden any semblance of cover right now would be a big mistake.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)