Decryption | Is Trumpism soluble in journalism?

(New York) One day, they are elected officials, strategists or advisors to the White House. The next day, they are collaborators, analysts or hosts of political television shows.

The phenomenon is obviously not limited to the United States, but for several days it has presented the media in this country with a unique question: is Trumpism soluble in journalism?

The issue arises from the hiring and firing of Ronna McDaniel, former chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), by NBC News, which offered her a $300,000 annual contract as a political analyst. Four days passed between this hiring and this dismissal.

Mitt Romney’s niece was not, however, the first person to have signed such a contract after having been at the head of the organization responsible for leading the Republican Party. One of his predecessors, Reince Priebus, who also served Donald Trump as White House chief of staff, joined ABC News as a contributor last year. Another, Michael Steele, recently moved from analyst to host at MSNBC, NBC’s sister channel.

Similar examples also abound on the Democratic side. Think of George Stephanopoulos, former White House communications director under Bill Clinton, who became host of Good Morning America and of This weekflagship programs of ABC News, or to Donna Brazile, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, whose services have been retained over the years by three different networks – CNN, Fox News and ABC.

In fact, the list of Democratic or Republican politicians who have become collaborators, analysts or presenters is almost endless. That’s what makes the revolt that broke out among the NBC/MSNBC staff following the announcement of Ronna McDaniel’s hiring even more remarkable.

NBC News chief political analyst Chuck Todd was the first to publicly criticize his bosses.

“When NBC makes the decision to give her the credibility of NBC News, you have to wonder what she brings to NBC News,” he said on the show Meet the Press on Sunday, March 24, after accusing Ronna McDaniel of misleading and defaming journalists as RNC chairwoman.

The next day, several MSNBC hosts, including cable star Rachel Maddow, took over, prompting the NBC News boss to fire the recruit he had hired in an effort to attract Republicans and mollify the critics of his group. Critics who only wanted to see in the crisis a confirmation of their grievances.

“NBC just hired and immediately fired Ronna McDaniel because the team refused to let a single Republican join her – that’s how biased she is! », Wrote the boss of X, Elon Musk, on his social network last Wednesday.

No offense to the entrepreneur, Ronna McDaniel’s criticisms within NBC/MSNBC did not criticize her for belonging to the Republican Party.

Instead, they denounced his attacks on MSNBC journalists (“propagandists,” she said), his promotion of Donald Trump’s “big lie” about the 2020 presidential election and his participation in the efforts of the ex-president to invalidate the results of this election.

Rachel Maddow described Ronna McDaniel as “someone who has not only attacked us as journalists, but is part of an ongoing project to get rid of our system of government.”

In short, according to the host, a person who has embodied Trumpism as Ronna McDaniel has done cannot serve as a political analyst for a serious media, even if Trumpism occupies an important, even predominant, place within the Republican Party.

Cornelian dilemma?

But wouldn’t the media be betraying their mission by boycotting the Trumpist point of view in their journalistic panels?

“If a news organization really wants to represent Donald Trump’s policies in its reporting and commentary, it will run into some problems,” says Michael Socolow, a professor in the Department of Communications and Journalism at the University of Maine, in a email to The Press.

“(Trump) considers his supporters imprisoned for attacking the Capitol on January 6 (2021) to be heroes and political “hostages,” and he said he would encourage Russia to “do whatever it wants” if NATO countries were not spending more on their defense. Finding someone who might agree with Trump in the abstract is one thing, but a reporter or commentator who thinks Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president is another. »

“American news organizations face a dilemma,” he adds. Representing (Trump’s views) in a “fair” or “balanced” manner may be a disservice to their audiences and the public. »

One thing is certain: In announcing Ronna McDaniel’s firing, NBC News President Cesar Conde pledged to redouble “efforts to find voices that represent different parts of the political spectrum.”

But Donald Trump and his allies are not ready to give up. The RNC is threatening to punish NBC for its firing of Ronna McDaniel by reducing its reporters’ access to the Republican convention in Milwaukee in July. And the former president continues his attacks against Brian Roberts, president of Comcast, of which NBC Universal is a subsidiary.

“The fake anchors at (MSNBC) have taken over NBC and Chairman Brian Roberts doesn’t know what to do! “, he denounced on Truth Social last week.

Donald Trump knows what to do. Last November, angered by MSNBC’s criticism of him, he called on the government to “come down hard” on this channel “and make it pay for its illegal political activity.”

His answer to the question that covers this article seems obvious.


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