If it’s true that to err is human and to forgive divine, then the people who control our media must be the gods they believe themselves to be.
These days proliferating lapses in journalists’ judgment and standards are not simply forgiven by the editorial establishment. They are rewarded. As long as they are the right kind of error by the right kind of person.
Even if Jeffrey Toobin is in fact the indispensable legal mind CNN evidently believes he is, his reinstatement last week must surely fill some of his colleagues with misgivings. “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” the great Aretha Franklin once asked. It’s a valid question that may take new form in the minds of participants in future video calls with the easily distracted Mr. Toobin.
But his restoration to a more salubrious on-camera role is a helpful reminder of the rules that now govern news. The medium is no longer the message: The new reality is that the mission is the message. As long as your work furthers the mission, no failure in behavior, no error in reporting or editing, no corruption of the truth or the evidence will go unrewarded.
All data and facts, all judgment about stories and the people who produce them, are subordinate to the mission. In one of the more ironic developments of this age of progressive hegemony, this is called “moral clarity.”