The End of Media History and the Last Honest Man

(Rex Features via AP Images)

Ever since postwar American journalism sacrificed its soul on the altar of celebrity sometime in the mid-'80s, a terrible day of reckoning for the craft has been in the works.  The "gets" and the gotchas, the "how do you respond to" questions, the how-do-you-feels; the unseemly scrums, the willingness to endure any humiliation from their betters in the hopes of basking, however fleetingly, in reflected glory -- that day finally arrived this week with a series of unforced errors that has stripped bare the profession's pretenses to objectivity and truth-seeking, and exposed them for the tawdry, politicized whores they really are.

Harsh words, perhaps, but the truth hurts.

The most recent spate of self-inflicted media disasters is not the end but the beginning -- of the media's end.  Brian Ross should have not been taken off the Trump beat by ABC, but should have been fired outright for incompetence in his eagerness to further tarnish Michael Flynn.  News reports that the Grand Inquisitor, Robert Mueller, had subpoenaed Trump family records from Deutsche Bank turned out to be false. Most egregious of all was the CNN cock-up in which one of its reporters rushed on the air with an anonymously sourced "scoop" that turned out to be the biggest nothingburger yet served up by Jeff Zucker's hell's kitchen of mis- and disinformation:

As CNN's very own in-house apologist noted:

CNN on Friday corrected an erroneous report that Donald Trump Jr. had received advance notice from the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks about a trove of hacked documents that it planned to release during last yearโ€™s presidential campaign.

In fact, the email to Mr. Trump was sent a day after the documents, stolen from the Democratic National Committee, were made available to the general public. The correction undercut the main thrust of CNNโ€™s story, which had been seized on by critics of President Trump as evidence of coordination between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign.

It was also yet another prominent reporting error at a time when news organizations are confronting a skeptical public, and a president who delights in attacking the media as โ€œfake news.โ€

Well, how about that? In fact, it was fake news, as fake as it gets, and CNN has nobody to blame but itself -- its zeal to take down the president, its eagerness to swallow any horse manure fed to it by unknown, and very possibly imaginary, "sources," its unconscionable decision not to name and shame the "sources," and its own sheer lack of professionalism.

A 2016 email sent to candidate Donald Trump and top aides pointed the campaign to hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee that had already been made public by the group WikiLeaks a day earlier.

The email โ€” sent the afternoon of Sept. 14, 2016 โ€” noted that โ€œWikileaks has uploaded another (huge 678 mb) archive of files from the DNCโ€ and included a link and a โ€œdecryption key,โ€ according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

The writer, who said his name was Michael J. Erickson and described himself as the president of an aviation management company, sent the message to the then-Republican nominee as well as his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and other top advisers.