Journalism’s reputation is in the toilet — and for good reason.
There was a time when journalists engaged in painstaking fact-checking and verification before publishing a story. That fact-checking and investigation went on until the journalist reached the point of confidence that there was something solid to report on. Sometimes this process went on for months — sometimes even years.
There was also a time when a “scoop” didn’t mean an unnamed intelligence source dropped a helpful hint into a journalist’s lap only to see it appear in print, framed as gospel truth, a few hours later.
Those times have passed.
The latest story about Trump-Russia links comes from the New York Times and says that according to anonymous “current and former American officials”, “at least three” “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates” “had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election. Sounds very alarming, but the lack of any real information, the anonymous sourcing, and the minimal digging from the NYT means that it is all terribly insubstantial. It could be a massive story, it could be a trivial nothing (or a smear) – as is, we do not yet know enough to say. The result is that this is another one of those stories that really tell us more about ourselves than anything else, as we see in it what we expect or want to see.
Spoilers! Article doesn’t explain why.
The story on the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is somewhat like peeling an onion, with each layer revealing something new. To be sure, I am delighted to see Flynn gone, both because of his clearly expressed desire to confront Iran and his inaccurate characterization of Islam. But Flynn’s departure will no doubt be exploited by many to justify increased hostility toward Russia, which is neither justified by circumstances nor in America’s long-term interests.
Found! The oldest J.T. protoputin known to man. Pencil and pen on a library checkout list, circa 2014. You (well, I) can tell it’s a protoputin drawing because its features remain in the unstable region between realistic and my more cartoony style to which Putin drawings eventually converged.