In a way, it makes sense that in a column about the excesses of other journalists, mostly those who aren’t fond of Donald Trump, syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. goes way overboard.
The columnist, distributed by the Washington Post Writers Group, has made a career out of being a relatively rare conservative Latino. His latest column this week was at least the third in which he criticizes pundit Mark Halperin for the manner in which he once interviewed Navarrette’s buddy, Ted Cruz. But that isn’t where Navarrette blew it.
The column starts by forgiving Halperin’s previous insensitivity because he had, in Navarrette’s words, a recent “epiphany” and has come to the realization that some journalists are overly aggressive in their coverage of the current president. That’s the theme of this Navarrette column, in which he writes that “media types” cozy with “Team Hillary” during the campaign “did everything from attending an off-the-record dinner at the home of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, to submitting their stories to Clinton officials before publication, to soliciting anti-Trump material from the Democratic National Committee.”
I put part of that quotation in italics because that is where he screwed up.
Submitting articles to the subjects of those articles is a big no-no in journalism, at least it is in traditional, mainstream journalism, which is the branch of the profession that Navarrette was writing about.
So who exactly submitted their stories to Clinton officials before publication? Navarrette strongly suggests that they included “reporters, anchors and columnists,” yet he doesn’t name any.
I looked at previous Navarrette columns to see if they were included there. Couldn’t find them. I checked national publications of various political leanings. Couldn’t find them there. It’s a pretty large accusation for a supposedly responsible national columnist to make. The way Navarrette put it, it sounds as though a wide swath of the national press corps was letting Clinton edit their campaign coverage, which is nonsense.
The one example I did find involved Politico reporter Ken Vogel’s decision last April to send a draft of an article about Clinton’s campaign fund-raising to Democratic National Committee officials for pre-publication review. Here’s a Washington Post column about it.
Politico later apologized and made it clear that Vogel had violated the organization’s policy.
“In this case, the reporter was attempting to check some very technical language and figures involving the DNC’s joint fundraising agreement with the Clinton campaign,” Politico said in a written statement.
“Checking the relevant passages for accuracy was responsible and consistent with our standards,” the statement continued. “Sharing the full piece was a mistake and not consistent with our policies. There were no substantive changes to the piece.”
Vogel’s piece, it turned out, was fairly critical of Clinton, stressing that she had received outsized benefits from a campaign contribution-sharing arrangement with the DNC.
Were there other examples? Perhaps, elusive as they may be, and if so, Navarrette should share the details. The result would be much more interesting than most of his columns.
Apparently unafraid of irony, Navarrette criticizes the unnamed media types for privately supping with Podesta but in the same column writes uncritically, even enviously, of Halperin having recently been invited to a private meal with Trump.
Navarrette concludes by applauding Halperin for saying, in a recent interview with The Hill, that since Trump took office, “too many people in the media have decided that we’re going to be warriors in some kind of hostile confrontation with the people we cover.”
“Halperin figured that out and blew the whistle,” writes Navarrette, apparently surprised by Halperin’s insights. “Many of his colleagues will hate him for it. But the rest of us should thank him.”
In my view, the rest should be asking how much the Post Writers Group is paying Navarrette.