Press Corruption

Obviously, the story that the media have been strongly supportive of Hillary Clinton and strongly critical of Donald Trump is a classic example of a “dog bites man” story.  This preference for Democrats over Republicans has been true for at least the last 40 years in which I have been following these matters, although it seems stronger now than it used to be.

What is interesting (although not exactly new) is that emails are being released about this corruption and the lack of shame about or consequence for these actions.  Consider the most recent release.  The Bill Clinton – Loretta Lynch meeting on an airplane during the investigation of Hillary Clinton was a big problem for the Clinton campaign.  The inappropriateness of such a meeting was so obvious that it suggested some kind of conspiratorial action.   So how did the press respond to the action?  At the time, I thought that the media downplayed it as much as possible.  It had to be covered, but the strategy was to cover it as briefly as possible and to put it to bed quickly.  This appears to be the typical strategy for covering stories damaging to the Democratic Party, such as the shooting of Steve Scalise by a Bernie Saunders supporter.   

It is therefore interesting to see an email that, on its face, suggests exactly this strategy concerning the Clinton — Lynch meeting.  Washington Post Reporter Matt Zapotosky wrote to the Justice Department:  

Any chance one of you could give me a call for another, hopefully quick, conversation on this AG-Clinton meeting? My editors are still pretty interested in it and I’ m hoping to put it to rest by answering just a few more questions about how the meeting came about-who approached who, how did they realize they were in the same place.  

Seemingly, a smoking gun.

Of course, it is possible to offer some explanations.  Perhaps Zapotosky was playing the Justice Department people. He did not really want to put the story “to rest,” but just wanted more information.  I suppose that could be the case. An examination of Zapotosky’ s reporting on the matter might help to clarify his email.  

But doesn’t the Washington Post and journalist ethics owe us some explanation about this.  I have not heard anyone mention that Zapotosky should be fired.  One might be excused for believing that pursuing a non-news agenda of helping to elect the Democratic candidate should be a firing offense.  If one believes that termination is too strong, then perhaps the Post should apologize to its readers and should put Zapotosky on leave for a period.  A slap on the wrist, but still something.  Yet, that has not happened.  

Of course, the Post could explain that Zapotosky is really innocent of the charge, because he was playing the Justice Department.  Again, that would be interesting.  But I’m not holding my breath.

The fact that the Post does not see any reason to offer an explanation tells us something about what is regarded as ethical and embarrassing in the press these days.