For as long as I’ve been a CNN critic, it never once occurred to me that one of the job requirements for working for the network in any capacity involving PR or reporting might be that you need to be willing to make a complete imbecile of yourself in public in the name of trying to own your competition.
While I admit am not privy to what the prerequisites are for working at CNN, the thought struck my mind today after coming across a perplexing tweet from their public relations guy Matt Dornic.
Dornic, whose Twitter bio lists him as Head of Strategic Comms @CNN Worldwide (because he wants you to be really, really impressed), thought he’d play gotcha games with Fox News media reporter Brian Flood by pointing out how Flood sometimes goes about trying to obtain quotes from sources via LinkedIn:
After all these years of covering CNN, Brian still has to troll LinkedIn for anonymous quotes (from employees of literally any department) to use in his hit pieces. We’ve been forwarded over a dozen of these in the past 24 hours. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/P0LwYf6mkK
— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) February 3, 2021
There were two big problems with Dornic’s attempted dunk on Flood. The biggest one was inarguably the most embarrassing one. I guess Dornic didn’t count on former CNN staffers stepping forward to point out that CNN also uses LinkedIn to fish for quotes:
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) February 3, 2021
This a way reporters get sources. It's a tool I and many other reporters at CNN would frequently use to do our jobs. https://t.co/4LXOr6avKT
— Heather Kelly (@heatherkelly) February 3, 2021
Mediaite did a write-up on Dornic’s tweet and reported that “LinkedIn messages obtained by Mediaite show a CNN reporter doing the same to Fox staffers.”
Journalist Matt Pearce from the L.A. Times also weighed in, offering Dornic a chance to see the “queries” he gets from CNN’s media reporters (presumably Oliver Darcy and Brian Stelter):
Should I forward you queries I get from CNN media reporters who want to know stuff about my workplace or is that bad, in your mind?
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) February 3, 2021
Former NRSC advisor Matt Whitlock also chimed in and noted he had been approached in the past from CNN reporters via LinkedIn:
I have gotten this kind on inquiry from CNN reporters on just about every social media platform… Twitter, Facebook, and yes.. even LInkedIn.
And I didn't find it unusual at all. https://t.co/gCBLHm4obq
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) February 3, 2021
The other big problem with Dornic’s cheap shot at Flood is that apparently he’s unaware that trying to connect with sources via social media accounts like LinkedIn is literally how journalism works, especially in the COVID era. Tons of reporters – including those who have no love for Fox News – weighed in to point out to Dornic that it’s a tactic they regularly use.
USA Today investigative journalist Brett Murphy:
This is called reaching out to potential sources https://t.co/SgkQ8agMAx
— Brett Murphy (@BrettMmurphy) February 3, 2021
New York Times media columnist Ben Smith:
This is a …totally normal way to report. Possibly not at CNN? But certainly everywhere else. Not a lot of people at Fox who do original reporting, but don't really get the objection. https://t.co/GOgBWuY642
— Ben Smith (@benyt) February 3, 2021
Daily Beast contributing editor Justin Baragona (who is frequently retweeted by Stelter):
This is actually a very normal and standard thing for a reporter to do. https://t.co/5HQbHisEuj
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) February 3, 2021
Erik Wemple, media guy for the Washington Post:
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) February 3, 2021
Needless to say, Dornic’s self-own was used to reaffirm a longstanding point about how the “Facts First” network doesn’t know much about how actual journalism works:
— Reverend Doctor Jill Biden Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) February 3, 2021
Have you ever worked as a journalist? https://t.co/BUIMl4EWMl
— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) February 3, 2021