I was disturbed by the allegations, and said so as a commentator. But I think some editors and bosses in newsrooms did not do enough to prevent the lowering of journalistic standards in service to what many journalists clearly regarded as a good cause. And I don’t think that even commentators should be exempt from standards of basic fairness and civility. It was offensive for CNN political contributor Joan Walsh to tweet of Kavanaugh that “he is a pig and he’s got to go,” just as it was offensive for Fox News contributor Kevin Jackson to call Kavanaugh’s accusers “lying skanks.” Opinion journalism is not a license for calumny.
It is easy to say that Twitter is poison (which it can be). But the deeper problem lies in the answer to a deeper question: Is journalism a profession that serves the public by maintaining high standards, or is it a social construct that should be redesigned to directly serve certain social goods? Some argue that all journalism involves bias, either hidden or revealed. But it is one thing to say that objectivity and fairness are ultimately unreachable. It is another to cease grasping for them. That would be a world of purely private truths, in which the boldest liars and demagogues would thrive.
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