In Which I Argue with Idiots about Their Own Damn Jobs

This week, the Huffington Post decided Donald Trump wasn’t a real thing anymore:

After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won’t report on Trump’s campaign as part of The Huffington Post’s political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section. Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.

And immediately the brightest lights in the political press pack howled that YOU CAN’T DO THAT:

Aww.

What if everyone made editorial decisions? What if everyone covered things the way they wanted to cover them, instead of the way they convince each other and themselves that things “have to” be covered? What if people just … decided what to write about and how? IT WOULD BE ANARCHY. This was my favorite response, not so much for her glib obnoxiousness but for the way she lets herself off the hook when challenged:

You might not remember Olivia Nuzzi. She interned for Anthony Wiener and then, after the dick-pic incident and subsequent implosion, she wrote a tell-all about her campaign experiences. She now covers politics for the Daily Beast.

Plenty of her fellow celeb-press folks chimed in to say that historical illiteracy on one’s chosen beat was hilarious, including some I expected better of:

Because funny! It’s so funny to not know how something works, and then sanctimoniously lecture everyone else about “how this works!” If you cover politics, you should probably have a passing familiarity with recent political and media spectacles. It’s not like you even have to open a book for this stuff; the Dean campaign story was one of the first to play out entirely online.

Even an 11-year-old should know better. Maybe my expectations of fourth graders are just too damn high.

Twitter carping aside, what the whole incident illustrated is just how much people absolutely loathe having their responsibilities pointed out to them. You have to make decisions about coverage and defend those decisions, and boy, does it get sticky when someone else (even if that someone is the Huffington Post’s car-theft chop shop of an editorial team) makes you look bad by doing so.

Instead of responding with terrified defensiveness or glib condescension, the campaign-bus ride-alongs could have come up with defenses of their coverage.

For example: I actually think Trump’s place in the polls demands coverage as a legitimate candidate. Whether my thoughts should dictate the workings of any newsroom other than the one in my spare bedroom is the question, though, and the answer to that is emphatically no. HuffPo gets to do what HuffPo wants.

THAT is how this works, and if everybody carping about HuffPo making a call was confident in their own, we’d see a lot less whining and a lot more reporting.

Then again, the last 11 years have proved nothing so definitively as the political pack’s hatred for hard work.

A.

%d bloggers like this: