“If the things we do here were having any real effect,” I
announced in the newsroom last week, “they’d take us all out of here in
The young people all laugh nervously when I say stuff like
this, even though they know I’m not kidding.
And then, this week, an internal memo in the New York
Times made public, and later an article, described a campaign waged by “a
loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House.” It’s
intent: to discredit those whom they perceive to be the president’s enemies in
They’ll be going through old tweets and yearbook photos, I
suppose, looking for… what? Blackface? Ha, no.
They’re looking for liberals, of course: political activism;
outrageous positions staked, perhaps, at college newspapers; rude tweets to
Republicans; anyone who says they’ve read The Communist Manifesto —
whatever they can find to besmirch the reputations of those charged with
reporting on the president.
A White House spokesperson told Breitbart that neither the
president nor his staff or even the Republican National Committee has any
knowledge of it. But c’mon. Arthur Schwarz, fingered by the Times as one
of the architects of the plan, has been working as an advisor to Donald Trump
Jr. for years. And no one will ever convince me that the man who called the
industry to which I’ve devoted my professional life the “enemy of the people”
has not given at least tacit approval of this measure.
It’s hard for me to see what the point of all this is other
than to create another blacklist, like the one compiled for Sen. Joe McCarthy
during the Red Scare of the 1950s by Ronald Reagan and other Hollywood
What’s next? Publish a White House enemies list? Attack the First Amendment in a way that renders newspaper publishing a privilege instead of a right? Round up the White House Press Corps and try them as actual enemies of the state?
They hope that editors will decide certain journalists are
too radioactive, and shunt them aside. By making an example of some
journalists, they hope everyone else falls in line, and provide coverage that
normalizes Trump’s insanity instead of questioning it.
All I know is this: If I’m not on this list, it won’t be due
to any shortage of embarrassing episodes in my past. It means I haven’t been
doing my job effectively.
It’s a great line, the kind that incites nervous laughter in
the young people. Even though they know I’m serious.
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