“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 handcuffs.”
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 the media.
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 conservatives.
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.