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Trump and the Age of the Correspundit

08-06-2018

COMMENTARY

In Christianity, we know God to be the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It's a three-for-one package deal...and it's the best one you'll ever find. In journalism, there's a different kind of Trinity: the correspondent, the pundit, and the activism spirit. The combination has now led us into the age of the "correspundit."
 
How did we get here? We've heard for a long time how the mainstream media is both overtly and covertly liberal, plus it's increasingly clear Americans don't trust them. Then, President Trump comes along, exposes them like never before and throws down the gauntlet. The press is angry. They feel like the victim. They feel beat up daily. The result? Many are finally revealing their true colors. They're fighting back against an unconventional president who is the first one to truly give them a punch in the face…and they don't like it. It's led to an intense battle resulting in the birth of the "correspundit."
 
So what we have is two inherent dangers: The first is the President calling the media the "enemy of the people." America's founding fathers believed so much in the freedom of the press that they made it part of the First Amendment to the Constitution. It's a key element of what sets the United States apart from many other countries. We must also recognize the danger of the media's embrace of these "correspundits." It creates confusion and leaves Americans wondering what is fact and what is spin. That should give all of us pause – including journalists.
 
We've seen this play out continually at the White House. You want examples? So-called "Reporters" and "Correspondents" such as CNN's Jim Acosta and CNN Contributor Brian Karem have turned the Briefing Room into their own soapbox.

Acosta rose to a new level last week when he offered this advice to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders saying, "I think it would be a good thing if you were to say right here...that the press are not the enemy of the American people." Afterwards, when he didn't get his way, he went on CNN (from the White House Briefing Room no less) complaining that he was, "tired" of all this. Then he morphed into activist-mode by proclaiming, "Maybe we should make some bumper stickers, make some buttons, you know, maybe we should go out on Pennsylvania Avenue like those folks who chant 'CNN sucks' and 'fake news,' maybe we should go out — all journalists, should go out on Pennsylvania Avenue and chant, 'We're not the enemy of the people..." In Acosta's attempt to fight for the sacred and vital First Amendment principle, his overt activism undermined his credibility and hurt the very press freedom principle for which he was fighting.
 
As for Karem, his diatribe against Sanders came as the issue of separating families at the border erupted. He exclaimed, "Come on Sarah, you're a parent. Don't you have any empathy for what these people are going through?" Moreover, Karem's Twitter feed is a regular Trump bash-a-thon.

While Karem and Acosta have been the two most glaring examples, there are countless other correspondents that get on Twitter and provide jabs, barbs or just downright snarky comments against Trump and this White House. Basically, many cover their beat by day and then show up at night in prime-time as critical Trump pundits.
 
The bottom line is this – what we've seen transpire during the Trump presidency is how probing, relentless questioning has turned into slanted, opinion journalism. Aren't White House Correspondents supposed to be covering the facts of the story rather than providing their opinion?  As a result, the lines have been blurred in today's media landscape. If you're a beat reporter then stick to reporting and leave the analysis to the analysts. You can't be both. When correspondents turn into "correspundits," their actions just confirm the media bias that they insist they don't have.

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