- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The media was obsessed with two stories Monday. Frankly, that’s one more than they are usually obsessed with. If there isn’t a natural disaster or a plane crash, they’ve been obsessed with Trump’s Russian collusion, er, I mean Trump’s obstruction of justice… er, wait a minute, I mean Trump’s bimbo eruptions and hush money. 

The point is, the media in New York and Washington DC (and is there really any other kind of media out there?) are completely obsessed with any scandal that might contribute to the downfall of Donald Trump. Hell, the New York Times and Washington Post just won the Pulitzer for a story that hasn’t really panned out yet. 

 

But, the obsession is real. Stories that might bring down Trump are this season’s missing pretty blonde girl that the media used to be obsessed with back in simpler, more tabloid times. Now they want to overturn an election. Bigger fish to fry, indeed. 

So Monday saw the media obsessed with two stories at the same time: James Comey’s interview with George Stephanopoulos and the revelation that Sean Hannity was a client (or got legal advice at the minimum) from Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is embroiled in an investigation at the hands of the Justice Department. 

The obsession over Hannity appears to hinge on the demand from these journalism purists that Hannity should have… no was obligated to disclose his relationship with Cohen before commenting on it during his Fox News television program. 

Here’s NBC News’ Chuck Todd making that argument: 

And Todd is not alone. It was universally understood that Hannity broke serious journalistic rules by not making the Cohen disclosure. 

Really?

Let’s look at the other story the media obsessed over. Stephanopoulos interviewing Comey. A major part of the interview involved Comey’s mishandling (that’s the understanding from most people on both sides of the political aisle) of Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized, non-secure email server.

Stephanopoulos asked Comey several softballs on this issue and at no time did he disclose to his audience that he was a close confidante of Clinton’s. That he was part of the Bill Clinton campaign and the Clinton White House. That he was a major contributor to the Clinton Foundation

John Fund explored this issue recently at National Review: 

That is no doubt one reason that Carole Simpson, a former colleague of Stephanopoulos’s at ABC News, decided to drop a bomb on him today on Reliable Sources, CNN’s media-criticism show. “There is a coziness that George cannot escape,” Simpson explained. “While he did try to separate himself from his political background to become a journalist, he really isn’t a journalist… . And I am sorry that again the public trust in the media is being challenged and frayed because of the actions of some of the top people in the business.”

Given the new Hannity Standard I’d think ABC News’ would disclose on every segment involving the Clintons that Stephanopoulos was a former Senior Adviser to President Clinton, former White House Communications Director under Bill Clinton and continues to be a close associate with the Clinton family and their foundation. Right? Wouldn’t you think?

Let’s be clear: I actually do think Hannity should have let his audience know that he had some kind of relationship with Cohen while he was commenting on him. I’m a radio host and when someone I have a personal or professional relationship with is in the news and I am commenting on them, I let my audience know. I think it adds to my credibility on the issue and it allows my audience to properly contextualize my commentary. It’s not a question of professional or journalistic ethics, it’s just an outward sign of trust for my audience. 

And I think Hannity’s audience would have been well served with that information. 

But the histrionics over this issue from media figures who are incestuously linked with political figures they cover (as well as with their fellow media figures) is so over-the-top it’s worthy of parody. 


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