The mainstream media is having its own shining moment

by | Mar 27, 2024 | Politics/Government, Pop/Life

photo from Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance

Whenever I find myself baffled by a trend or even a specific decision in the traditional media world, I look to Jay Rosen for his perspective. Rosen is a professor of journalism at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. 

He’s risen in prominence recently as a result of his “it’s not the odds, it’s the stakes” advice he has given the media on how to cover the 2024 elections. What he means by this is the coverage should be grounded in what the November choices mean, not the daily drama of polls, gotcha moments and the scoreboard. 

Consumers of media content should follow his advice too. Too often, consumers forget that we are partners in the market. Never has that been more important. 

The Ronna saga

Late last week, NBC News hired recently ousted Republican National Committee Chairperson, Ronna McDaniel, as a political contributor. The move has caused an avalanche of reaction. 

McDaniel has been an election denier since the “Big Lie” was spawned in 2020. She participated and led efforts, particularly in her home state of Michigan, to overturn the results. She still refuses to admit Joe Biden won an election that ultimately wasn’t all that close. 

Democrats always cringe when a former, high-ranking Republican lands a gig at a prominent news desk. This one is different though. In honor of Professor Rosen and the spirit of telling it like it is, the most obvious problem with NBC’s decision is this simple: McDaniel is a liar. 

The “newsroom” at the network isn’t pleased about this at all. NBC’s own Chuck Todd blasted the hire on “Meet the Press” Sunday morning. He was joined by the Boston Globe’s Kimberly Atkins Stohr, who said McDaniel’s “credibility was shot” over the years, and that “she habitually lied.”

Democrats and journalists are mad. Surely Republicans are happy, right?

Not immediately, they weren’t.

McDaniel is unpopular on that side of the political spectrum too. Republicans don’t like her because, well, you-know-who wanted her removed from the RNC post, therefore, she must be bad. Of course, all she did in her old job from February of 2017 until two weeks ago, is exactly what Donald Trump wanted her to do. A lot of good that did her. 

She never produced a positive election cycle in that role, according to Axios. She oversaw a net loss of eight governor’s offices, four U.S. Senate seats, 20 seats in the U.S. House and the presidency. Oh, and the RNC is running low on cash now. Having money to fund campaigns is its primary reason for existing. Not a great resumé. 

However, it is silly to blame McDaniel for all of that. She hasn’t been freelancing these past seven years. She’s been taking orders. Even though she has relentlessly stuck to the big lie her now former boss dictated, the casualty was her own credibility, something that is now dead and buried. Then Trump fired her.

She has one friend in Carrie Budoff Brown, NBC’s Senior Vice President for Politics, who hired her. Otherwise, I’m struggling to find McDaniel’s constituency, or value. 

Following the objections of Todd and Stohr, the Republican machine began trying to generalize the objections to her hiring as simple partisanship, ignoring how this specific hire is different. 

In any media outlet’s necessary quest for credibility, she’s a liar first, a Republican second. That’s the difference. 

Consumers’ duty

Consumers need to do their part and turn NBC News off. If she stays on the job at the network, and its audience doesn’t revolt, whose fault is it when her lies evolve into, as McDaniel herself would describe it, “typical political discourse?”

It’s a self-inflicted wound to the credibility of a major media outlet. These moves make defending professional journalists unnecessarily difficult, encouraging the public to simply question it all.

As an example, pay attention to the coming story from Kent Babb, an investigative sports reporter from the Washington Post. He has been working on a story about flamboyant and controversial LSU women’s basketball coach, Kim Mulkey, for two years. She’s expecting an unflattering report, as we all are, but she is threatening to sue and questioning all media in the process. 

Read Babb’s last LSU story and decide for yourselves if he’s a pro. Spoiler: he is. 

The media market will respond to consumers. We should speak with our viewership, our wallets and our feet, like we do in every other market. We shouldn’t just keep consuming it like we can’t taste that it’s rotten. Credibility is the product.

This market will give us what we value, if we keep demanding it. 

Jay Rosen would say the stakes are too high not to. He is absolutely correct, again.  

1 Comment

  1. Max Hittle

    As always, right on. Although NBC is now tarnished in my estimation, they did the right thing for professional journalism in reversing the offer to an election denier, a liar, and a storybook political hack.


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