It’s a ruthless world for Americans who follow politics, with post-Election Day recounts, voter fraud, invading Honduran caravans, and constant terrible-two tantrums from anchor babies.
No, not from the children of illegal immigrants, but authentic, home-grown anchor babies spawned right here in the U.S. of A. — namely, Jim Acosta, Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, and Don Lemon. All are in the feral throes of a two-year paroxysm to be the lead story on prime-time cable outlets.
Admittedly, it’s been a while since Journalism 101, but doesn’t the unwritten rule, promoted for decades by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), “report the story, don’t become part of it” still hold sway today?
He snarked, whined, challenged, and badgered…
Share the Stage, Kids
After years of being the new guy in cable news, taking a back seat to the likes of oft-weeping Anderson Cooper, James “Jim” Acosta was like the kid at recess no one wants to play with who gets stuck banging the felt chalkboard erasers at lunchtime for a sympathetic teacher.
Then President Trump came along, and Acosta got to sit with the other cool kids at the White House seeking the all-important truth that had been tabled for eight years.
Acosta wasted little time, allowing his testiness at Trump’s victory to fester and congeal into a putrid nastiness, eroding the decorum most correspondents exhibit while in the nation’s house. He snarked, whined, challenged, and badgered anyone he came into contact with while on the job. Politico gave him the all-important nickname “chief antagonist,” and he has proudly, determinedly soldiered on.
After months of harassing press secretary Sarah Sanders, belligerently hogging other reporters’ valuable time, and shrugging off a White House employee, Trump finally called him out. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
And the reporter became the story.
Acosta cried, CNN went on the offensive, and Joe Schaeffer, national correspondent for Liberty Nation, can fill in the details here.
Acosta did not come up with this get-famous scheme all by his lonely little self; others bravely paved the road in seeking the much-desired center stage of news stories. In fact, Anderson Cooper may have written the playbook.
In 2005, Cooper bawled like a newborn calf through the streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was a horrifying situation that required the calm reserve of a seasoned, Walter Cronkite-channeling journo, able to separate fact from fiction. Yeah, we had Cooper instead.
Cooper has been the story – or inserted himself into it – too many times to count. Most notably, the way-back machine takes us to 2010 and the tumultuous aftermath of a 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti, killing 250,000 people and adversely affecting three million more.
Cooper and crew were on the ground when violent looting erupted, injuring a young boy. Cooper jumped in, past other men who were trying to help the child, swooped him up, and carried him to a safer area. His assistance was not necessary.
A few days later, the Society of Professional Journalists issued this warning:
“No one wants to see human suffering, and reporting on these events can certainly take on a personal dimension. But participating in events, even with the intention of dramatizing the humanity of the situation, takes news reporting in a different direction and places journalists in a situation they should not be in, and that is one of forgoing their roles as informants.”
Perhaps SPJ should send a memo to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who bursts into tears and then tweets apologies until her sycophantic followers reply, “There, there, you are so special,” or something similar. She sobbed in 2016 when the FBI announced a renewed interest in the wrongdoings of Hillary, and she cried even harder when reading the news that illegal immigrant children were being sent to “tender age” shelters away from their parents.
She stopped crying once the facts came to light that Obama had created both the policies and the facilities and that the photos of kids in cages were from their liberal hero’s era.
Manufacturing extremist commentary has replaced truth, accuracy, independence, and impartiality. Just ask CNN’s Don Lemon, who has been the headline for weeks with this gem: “…realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.”
Them’s fighting words for the uncouth, deplorable, dregs-of-society people – and that could be a viable story. But how is this rhetoric the news? It’s not news. It’s the unpopular kids attempting a playground coup.
Stardom Is Addicting
A quick internet search on Maddow, Acosta, Cooper, or Lemon will pop up recent stories about each of them – but not “reported by” – which is, in adult journalism circles, a party foul.
No one sued Obama in 2008 when he unceremoniously removed from his campaign plane three reporters, from the Washington Times, the New York Post, and the Dallas Morning News. The political geniuses of Glamour and Ebony magazines got the embrace and were allowed to stay on board.
A short decade later, well, we have Acosta. He may be better suited for eraser dust than covering the mean streets of politics.
But let’s have Kevin Smith, former president of SPJ and current director of The Kiplinger Program in public affairs journalism, have a swipe at the subject:
“Advocacy, self-promotion … injecting oneself into the story or creating news events for coverage is not objective reporting, and it ultimately calls into question the ability of a journalist to be independent, which can damage credibility.”
It’s time for our anchor babies to drop the pacifier and get serious about the craft.