This was the year American journalism came roaring back, America’s journalists reported (again and again and again). With a new president in office and a whiff of scandal in the air, reporters raced to their battle stations and began pummeling the president, seemingly certain he’d soon be frog-marched into federal prison and they would be celebrated with Pulitzers.
The only problem is that their biggest scoops … were almost always wrong. Over the course of the last year, reporters breathlessly accused Trump of committing impeachable acts, lending assistance to mass shootings, sowing racial discord, and even outright treason. Meanwhile, when Hillary returned to the fray, she was feted with flattery, humorous viral videos, and chardonnay. And that’s just a taste.
Trying to choose the 10 lowest moments was no easy task, but we think the montage above captures the spirit of 2017 in all of its unholy glory.
Without further ado, here are our 10 most mortifying media moments of 2017:
10 — It’s Our Job to Tell You What to Think. During a February broadcast of “Morning Joe,” co-host Mika Brzezinski chastised Trump for telling Americans to be skeptical of the press, worrying Americans may trust him over her media colleagues. “He could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job.”
9 — ABC Botches Biggest Story of Year. Shortly after Michael Flynn was indicted for lying to the FBI, ABC’s Brian Ross broke what appeared to be a massive scoop: that during the campaign, Trump instructed him to coordinate with Russia. This led to reporters giddily anticipating the apparently inevitable downfall of Trump, which no one highlighted better than Joy Behar, who literally shouted “Yes!” after delivering Ross’s “scoop.” The only problem is the story was completely wrong; it was then President Elect Trump who had given these (very normal) instructions, just as President Elect Obama had reached out to Iran during his own transition. Ross was subsequently suspended for the “serious error.”
8 — Late-Night Leftism. When Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy sponsored a health-care reform bill that would have given states more flexibility to operate health-care exchanges, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel abandoned comedy altogether and instead used his show to rally his audience against the bill. After turning “Jimmy Kimmel Tonight” into a platform for nauseating left-wing sermonizing, he was dubbed “America’s Conscience” by his colleagues in the media.
7 — Hillary, Our Hero. After spending months hunting for an opportunity to expose a Trump scandal, Hillary published her book on the 2016 race (“What Happened”) and went on a whirlwind publicity tour, where reporters treated the scandal-scarred former First Lady to chardonnay, flattery & panda videos.
6 — ‘Reporting’ as an Excuse for Venting. All too often in 2017, “reporting” on the Trump Administration became synonymous with “venting.” Mika Brzezinksi, for example, used the opportunity of reporting on a Trump tweet to say (all in one sentence) that the president has no morals, is a bully, acts like a bigot, is racist, and is a sexual harasser. The New York Time’s Tom Friedman, commenting on a torrent of news from the Trump Administration, said that “from a journalism perspective” Trump is like a “brain eating disease.” Former reporter Mark Halperin said the election of Trump was a “more cataclysmic event” than 9/11.
5 — Let’s Impeach Trump Already! After President Trump fired FBI director James Comey, the media appeared certain he’d just committed his first impeachable offense. Almost without fail, Democratic guests appearing on TV in May were expected to announce when they would initiate impeachment proceedings against the president.
4 — Vegas Scapegoating. When an atrocity of inexplicable scale struck Las Vegas, Americans demanded answers. When those were slow in coming, the media turned their sights on Republicans, blaming gun rights for the tragedy. (Note: They did the same thing after the mass shooting in Texas.)
3 — Abandoning Any Sense of Perspective. After Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged accepting a meeting a sketchy Russian lawyer who said she had dirt on Hillary Clinton, reporters and others in the media jumped the rhetorical shark, calling it a case of “treason.” Yet months later it was reported the Clinton campaign solicited anti-Trump gossip from Kremlin agents (via their intermediary, Fusion GPS), an arguably far worse ethical lapse, and these same talking heads were curiously quiet. https://grabien.com/file.php?id=277165
2 — Emoting as Reporting. Just weeks into the Trump Administration, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski was struggling. The emotional toll was already too much; after Trump had tweeted that the Trump Tower had been wiretapped, she could no longer take it, telling viewers it was OK to be scared. “We’re all really nervous, too,” she emoted.
1 — Reporters Treat Obama to One Final Slobberfest. In President Obama’s final appearance before the White House press corps, reporters used the opportunity to … shower him with praise, adulation, and hagiography. These sycophantic reporters were seemingly competing to see who could offer Obama the most effusive praise. That honor may have gone to The Blade’s Chris Johnson, who itemized to the president what he felt were his greatest accomplishments — before inviting him to bash Trump. Or the LA Times’ Christi Parsons, who begged the president to call her (while pointing at her phone), and telling him it’s been “an honor” covering his administration. Her actual question? How he was going to explain the election of Trump to his children.
— Of course no synopsis of 2017’s mortifying media moments would be complete without mentioning the many reporters who were felled by sexual misconduct. Stories about how Matt Lauer used his office as a secret sex chamber, or Charlie Rose’s predilection for parading naked in front of young female producers, or Mark Halperin praying on interns, were indeed mortifying.
— When tragedy struck Texas in the form of Hurricane Harvey, many in the media politicized the tragedy, assigning blame on Republicans and other critics on the global warming theory.
— As President Obama was finishing his second term, he began insisting he was leaving without a single scandal marring his legacy. The media, picking up on this effort at posterity puffery, was only too happy to oblige, likewise insisting he was leaving office unblemished.