If the media want to scold others for lying, perhaps they shouldn’t defend their own liars.
Ever since Donald Trump’s political rise, the media have taken great pains to point out that Trump has an uneasy relationship with the truth. They are not exactly wrong about this. Trump lies constantly, even about the most mundane things — but they’d have a better moral high ground to stand on if they didn’t defend the liars in their midst.
Take the recent example of MSNBC host Joy Reid. Last week decade’s old blog posts surfaced in which Reid, far before she got a TV show and became a media leader of the Trump #Resistance, wrote a series of homophobic blog posts.
Instead of copping to the posts and explaining how her views had changed, she concocted an elaborate conspiracy theory that her blog was hacked. Except, when her claims were put under the remotest scrutiny, it became clear that no such hack occurred. It was a preposterous lie.
Even as her story has crumbled, she hasn’t exactly copped to reality and admitted she wrote the posts.
“I spent a lot of time trying to make sense of these posts. I hired cybersecurity experts to see if somebody had manipulated my words or my former blog, and the reality is they have not been able to prove it,” she said on her show Saturday.
“I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things because they are completely alien to me,” she went on “But I can definitely understand based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past why some people don’t believe me.”
Despite still trying to maintain the absurd possibility — read The Daily Beast’s takedown of the claim – that the posts were fabricated, Reid’s friends in the media praised her for her courage.
“Everyone of us will walk in @JoyAnnReid‘s shoes someday — filled with remorse and regret over something we have said or done, but I predict that few will do so this eloquently,” MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, who regularly attacks the president for lying, wrote on Twitter, for instance. “Sending support and admiration to you and your amazing panel and team.”
NBC and MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance, who regularly appears on Reid’s program, also went to bat for Joy’s ridiculous lie.
“Clearly there is a Discredit & Humiliate campaign afoot,” Nance wrote in a tweet. “Apparently all progressives are secretly anti-gay bloggers. This has Wikileaks & AltRight written all over it. Expect more.”
As for MSNBC itself, the network is so far standing behind Reid. The liberal network wants to be seen as the network that holds Trump accountable seems much more reluctant to hold its own hosts accountable.
But it’s just not Reid and MSNBC. Late last year, CNN host Anderson Cooper, who also regularly attacks the president for lying, concocted a nearly as absurd story about how an anti-Trump tweet ended up being tweeted from his account.
“His assistant inadvertently left his phone unlocked and unattended at the gym early this morning, and someone took the phone and sent the tweet,” CNN claimed at the time.
In the Age of Trump, the media has taken on a moralistic tone in fighting back against the president’s lies. That in and of itself is not necessarily a problem. It’s important that the president, any president, be held accountable for the mistruths he utters.
But in order to maintain credibility in checking the president, the media need to hold themselves to the same high standard to which they seek to hold the president. You can’t bash the president for lying one day and excuse your media compatriots the next for the same offense.
Or, at least you can’t do it and expect the public to trust you.
Liberal pundits attacking the president — and conservatives defending him — may justify their accommodations for dishonesty by telling themselves the greatest lie of all: that truth doesn’t matter, and motives trump misrepresentation. But Ayn Rand said it best: “Lying and dishonesty never work — and it is a great human tragedy that people think dishonesty can work for a good motive.”
The more the media try to cover up for liars in their midst, the more they parade the utter nakedness of their partisan agenda. At least in this regard these sorry events have moved the public toward a greater recognition of the media’s moral bankruptcy.
Jennifer Grossman is the CEO of Atlas Society and a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.