I get really frustrated at a lot of the people whose job is to be a “media reporter” – as in, their job is to report on the goings-on in media.
This particular field of journalism used to be pretty fun to watch. There was a pretty good section of Politico, the “On Media” blog, that followed reporters, anchors, and other key media figures moving out of or into other outlets, as well as following drama inside of newsrooms.
It was a bit incestuous, mind you, having the media report on the media and glossing over some of the more aggravating things reporters and outlets were getting away with in the name of activism masked as journalism. But to understand the industry behind our mainstream journalism was of interest to me, and I followed it pretty regularly.
Like all things, though, something changed over the last few years. “Media reporters” are now just political reporters, but targeting outlets they don’t like over stories they disagree with. Mediaite, for example, tends to target right-wing sites and commentators more often than not, though in the world of media reporting they are better at hitting both sides than most.
CNN, however, is a place that is just absolutely toxic.
I was blocked by CNN’s Oliver Darcy on Twitter after writing a piece critical of his attempt to attack Fox New’s Bret Baier. In it, I said the following about Darcy and CNN’s chief media reporter, Brian Stelter.
Maybe Darcy is doing this out of jealousy? CNN had incredible growth in April’s ratings, upwards of 150% in viewership, but it still wasn’t enough to top shows like Baier’s. CNN just can’t seem to top it, and since Darcy works for CNN, that’s what he has to do. Attack Fox News.
Can you imagine that being your job? Spend all day watching a network you hate and tweet about it, with the occasional television hit reminding you that focusing on them is your job and you hate them? It doesn’t seem all that great for one’s mental health, but that is almost entirely what Darcy, Stelter, and the gang are reduced to.
Whether you like them or not, Fox News tends to have (in some cases much) higher ratings than shows on CNN and MSNBC. They appeal to more people and tend to not treat American voters like idiots. While I can’t stand their commentary hosts like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, it is undeniable that guys like Chris Wallace and Bret Baier do a really good job as straight-news guys.
Contrast that with Stelter, who is willing to ignore over a dozen calls from progressive commentators to not have presidential debates in order to say that anyone talking about it is responding to Fox News talking points rather than reality.
It’s absolutely absurd. Yesterday, my colleague Sister Toldjah wrote up the exchange Stelter had with Guy Benson and it’s worth noting that Stelter, being so very Stelter, had to backtrack without actually backtracking.
If Stelter were an honest journalist, he would be noting in his newsletter the rise in rhetoric from multiple media outlets calling for no presidential debates. However, he’s not an honest journalist. He is a PR flack for CNN and his job is to watch Fox News and other right-leaning outlets and pundits all day and report on things they do he that he disagrees with.
It’s not objective journalism. It’s defending the castle.
At one point, Darcy and Stelter were decent journalists. Like with everything else in the modern era, increased polarization in our political world has made people and things so much more unbearable. Anyone whose focus is on media reporting is doing the job from a biased, political perspective and not through an objective lens focused on the industry. Like so many other elements of national journalism, it’s disappointing and would be better off disappearing.