Donald Trump's Media Awards

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 3, 2018

President Trump has announced that he will be awarding "THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR" [capitalization in the original] this Monday at 5 p.m.


A few obvious points:

  • Substantive media criticism is not Trump's forté.
  • Trump would like to these awards to shame the members of the media who receive them; it will have the opposite effect.
  • The Media Research Center does it better every year.

Of course, the media has behaved unusually poorly over the past year as their typical disdain for Republicans has been compounded by TV reality show president who is wholly unsuited for the office he occupies. Neither of these things is an excuse for cutting corners or otherwise not doing your job well.

The GOP Tax Bill

Before the GOP tax bill passed late last year, polling on the bill was almost uniformly negative—and not because the public was concerned about adding another trillion or so dollars onto the national debt. No, most of the public had bought the Democrats' line, repeated uncritically by the mainstream media, that the bill would benefit only the wealthy and corporations.

As's Guy Benson reported, even the Democrats' preferred tax policy think-tank confirmed that most would benefit from the bill, and that the share of the tax burden on the wealthy would actually increase.

In the days following the bill's signing, several companies reported that they would be raising wages, offering bonuses to employees and increasing their charitable giving in response to the new tax law. After weeks of wall-to-wall coverage that largely consisted of repeating Democratic claims of impending doom, follow-ups to the law's impacts have been spotty, perfunctory and quickly diminishing.

Brian Ross screws it up again

ABC News' Brian Ross was suspended for four weeks for a phony report that falsely furthered the Democrats Trump-Russia collusion narrative.

Mr. Ross’s initial report, which he said was informed by a confidant of Mr. Flynn’s, would have been a bombshell revelation in the continuing investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the presidential election.

The network’s tweet about the claim was shared more than 25,000 times before ABC deleted it, according to The Washington Post.

ABC said the confidant later clarified that Mr. Trump’s request to Mr. Flynn during the campaign had been to find ways to repair relations with Russia. The directive to contact Russian officials on topics that included working together against the Islamic State came after the election, the network said.

In this case, ABC News did the right thing, though a case can be made that Brian Ross should be put out to pasture. After all, he's the same reporter that falsely linked the Tea Party to the Aurora, Colo. movie theater massacre back in 2012. Upon learning the name of the shooter (whom I refuse to name), Ross googled the name and located a different individual with the same (common) name who was associated with the Tea Party, slandering that man and the Tea Party movement.

It's odd how all Ross's errors tend to go in one direction.

CNN gets its collusion reporting wrong, protects its sources

As The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway reported:

Friday morning’s report — which got the usual suspects extremely excited — was one such story. Broadcast widely on air and online, it intimated that Donald Trump, Jr. was given an advance notice about documents hacked or phished from Democrats before they were publicly available. The story didn’t include any evidence that the random dude who emailed Trump, Jr. was correct, that his email had been opened, that he was connected to Russia, or anything else to justify the excitement that those all-in on the collusion narrative had in response to it.

But more than that, it turned out that CNN completely botched the story. Instead of advance notice that this random dude sent in to Trump affiliates, it was late notice that this random dude sent in. The Washington Post obtained the email and reported that CNN had completely messed up the story, claiming a September 4 date to an email that was actually sent on September 14, a day after the documents were publicly available.

As anyone with basic reading comprehension can deduce, the change in date makes the story completely meaningless. The network should've done a retraction, complete with Roseanne Roseannadanna meme.


CNN's Public Relations Department tweeted out a "correction."

This statement raises some serious questions (the previous Hemingway story includes 18 questions total), but as a former professional journalist, a couple really stand out.

  1. How did both your sources get the date wrong?
  2. Why didn't you get a copy of the document yourself before running the story?

The first question seems to suggest that the two sources were not independent of one another. The second might've been excused 30 years ago when delivering a document could be difficult, tedious or time-consuming. But in the 21st Century, the proliferation of camera phones, fax machines, email, etc., leave little reason why the reporters shouldn't have insisted on seeing the document with their own eyes.

Finally, there's another issue here. CNN's anonymous sources burned the reporters for temporary, partisan political gain. And by temporary, we're talking about just a few hours.

The contract between anonymous sources and reporters is that, in return for information, the journalist agrees to keep the source's identity a secret. But the key is that the information provided must be true.  It's pretty apparent here, absent a clarification from CNN that hasn't been issued in the nearly a month since they ran this bogus story, that the anonymous sources broke their part of the contract with malice. If CNN truly cared about journalistic ethics and its own credibility, it would out the sources that lied to them.

Doing so really costs CNN nothing, since they cannot trust anything those sources give them in the future, and their decision to keep protecting them suggests that, yes, there is collusion going on, but likely with Democrats.

Speaking of collusion

Probably the most shocking bit of media news was released by Wikileaks on Saturday, but was completely ignored by the media.

This is one of the world's biggest journalistic no-nos. It's something you're taught not to do in your first j-school reporting class. Giving your source your paper's story budget more than a week in advance to a source should be a firing offense, and probably would be if it were the Bush or Trump administrations getting the special treatment. But as of today, Scott Shane is still employed by The New York Times.

Doctor heal thyself

Trump's media awards are a joke. But as much as the media would like to deny it, they've got a problem too. They've allowed their hatred for the man to drive them to abandon all their principles. More and more, outrageous claims are published first and verified later…maybe.  Journalists need to let their emotions go, ignore the petty jabs from the White House (like the media awards) and redouble their efforts to do their jobs.


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January 2018



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