The Media, Trump, and the 'Normal Standards' of Journalism

By Lambert, Brian | MinnPost.com, August 12, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Media, Trump, and the 'Normal Standards' of Journalism


Lambert, Brian, MinnPost.com


As of Friday, there are 88 days to go until the election. Almost three months. Which in the 2016 media environment translates to a minimum of 8,800 news cycles, most of them devoted to/obsessed with Donald Trump. Trump Obsession Syndrome, already a national mental health concern, could easily metastasize into something fatal.

Three points of reference on today's radar scan. In The New York Times, media columnist Jim Rutenberg (David Carr's replacement) published a column Thursday, "Trump is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism."

Setting the piece up, he writes, "If you view a Trump presidency as something that's potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you've ever been to being oppositional. That's uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non--opinion journalist I've ever known, and by normal standards, untenable. But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don't, what should take their place?"

The difficulty of covering a presidential candidate who -- let's just say it, shall we? -- displays an unprecedented, flagrant and routine indifference to civility, facts and forthrightness has been on journalists' mind since Trump's gilded escalator descent 14 months ago. To apply "normal standards" to Trump reporting, which would mean avoiding descriptors and characterizations like, well, "flagrant and routine indifference ..." is to fail in the primary function of journalism, namely providing your audience with as complete and accurate a description of events as possible.

Therein lies the dilemma for "normal standards," which are heavily influenced by -- wait for it -- the long tradition of covering normal candidates playing by well understood standards. Crackpots and chronic prevaricators are a familiar feature of American politics (and human nature). But journalists have never before dealt with one nominated by a major political party for President of the United States, and a lot of us remember Richard Nixon.

I couldn't help but wonder where our old friend Mr. Carr would have gone with the same column. He once conceded, when asked, that as biting and provocative as he was often described, he was very conscious of playing within boundaries set down by the Times. There were decades of tradition that he had no interest in challenging in any revolutionary way.

In the end, Rutenberg settles for a survey of spokespeople and media beard--strokers noting and lamenting everything any sentient reader can see, before concluding that the Times and The Washington Post certainly are performing nobly and aggressively in a turbulent landscape.

Says Rutenberg, "It may not always seem fair to Mr. Trump or his supporters. But journalism shouldn't measure itself against any one campaign's definition of fairness. It is journalism's job to be true to the readers and viewers, and true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history's judgment. To do anything less would be untenable."

Well, he asked the question, at least.

[bullet][bullet][bullet]

Also making news is NBC News-/MSNBC reporter Katy Tur, a fast-- rising media star for her non-stop coverage of Trump. In a piece for the tony, internationally--scented women's magazine Marie Claire, Tur walks us through, "My Crazy Year with Trump," including how Secret Service personnel escorted her from a Trump event after the candidate (again) singled her out for being a lousy, dishonest reporter and the crowd turned ugly.

Befitting the venue, Tur's piece is peppered with references to her global life-style, (now-ex-) French boyfriend, "bright" London flat and difficulties getting her hair dry and re--accessorizing her wardrobe -- a pair of Jimmy Choos to make her feel "powerful" -- for her incessant round of live--shots. (Foof withstanding, she doing quite a good job.)

At one point, she writes, "Timothy Crouse got a lot right in The Boys on the Bus, arguably the most famous book about the campaign trail. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Media, Trump, and the 'Normal Standards' of Journalism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.