Journalism’s honor code is being tested | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Jul 15, 2020 at 3:28 PM
David Zurawik’s piece on the Lincoln Project (”Lincoln Project taking no prisoners in its media campaign to defeat Trump,” July 10) was good ,but I thought his observation that mainstream media was “not allowed to call out Trump” in the same way Lincoln does merited a comment. He refers to the constraint on journalists as part of a legacy media convention that is still honored, certainly by those who cover the presidential beat. What comes to mind is how the White House press corps exercises restraint during President Donald Trump’s press conferences. As Mr. Trump’s message and style have deteriorated over time, reporters’ questions have become more pointed. When Mr. Trump is rude and offensive, especially with women correspondents such as Weijia Jiang or Paula Reid, they have pushed back, but never in kind, which would cross the boundary Mr.Zurawik describes.
This unwritten honor code will continue to hold through the 2020 election, maybe because most see Mr. Trump losing in November, and they are able to handle another four months of his lies, word salads and insults without exploding with rage. I cannot imagine the same discipline by the press if he is re-elected. To me, only the United Nations’ General Assembly has handled his crazy talk appropriately. In September 2018, he addressed the world body and boasted that he had gotten more done in his first two years than almost any other administration in American history. There was a brief pause and then as if on cue, they laughed at him. For a malignant narcissist like Trump, there could be no greater indignity.