The left of center media has become increasingly infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome. Over the past few years, previously legitimate news organizations and news personalities have gone off the deep end in their attempts to thwart the conservative wave that brought Trump into office and continues to roll across the country. Gossip and scandalous personal news have been around for a very long time, but it has traditionally been avoided by reputable organizations. In the last decade, the now-defunct Gawker was a major perpetrator of this kind of salacious news. Today, the main culprits in this wave of hysterical paparazzo style journalism are, not surprisingly, CNN and the Huffington Post.
In the past week, one of the biggest ongoing stories has been the location of Melania Trump. The First Lady had kidney surgery on May 14th, since then she had not made any public appearances until the night of June 4th at a Gold Star Family Event at the White House. Before her first public appearance, Brian Stelter of CNN got conspiratorial about her absence on his show, ironically named “Reliable Sources.” During the segment, Stelter said, “The last time we caught a glimpse of her was on May 10th, 24 days, more than three weeks. There have been a lot of questions about her surgery, her time at Walter Reed, and now her invisibility.” Stelter also pondered “how long does she have to be out of sight to make this a legitimate media story?” Sorry Brian, this isn’t newsworthy. A First Lady recovering from a surgery staying out of the public eye for a few weeks isn’t exactly grounds for a “legitimate media story”. The President even weighed in on the “Missing Melania” controversy:
The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife and our great First Lady, Melania. During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse. All Fake, she is doing really well!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2018
In response to the president’s call out of the fake news hysteria, Stelter deflected.
Trump is conflating random Twitter commenters with “the media” here. A common tactic of bad faith critics. But disappointing to see POTUS do it. pic.twitter.com/7tWObMmUdD
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 6, 2018
Stelter was likely referring to the myriad, and verified, liberals on Twitter who went even farther than just questioning Melania’s whereabouts, but actually accused Trump of abusing her or her leaving the president to cause her absence. While Stelter wasn’t the worst offender, he is still part of the larger conspiratorial problem.
Stelter’s jab at Melania isn’t the first time CNN has gotten involved in people’s personal business to fill up airtime, and it’s certainly not the worst. Last year, CNN went after “HanAssh*leSolo” a Reddit memer, who supposedly posted the infamous gif of Trump smacking down the Corrupt News Network. CNN managed to track down his profile and found some pretty distasteful content. In addition to finding his anonymous account, CNN found his personal information and threatened to share it if he continued to post offensive content. The edgy memer later issued an apology, but one that was clearly forced due to the pressure CNN put on him.
In February of this year, CNN went after another social media user who had interacted with an alleged Russian bot on Facebook. While Florine Gruen Goldfarb was outside of her Florida home, she was ambushed by CNN reporter Drew Griffin and harangued about her activity. As a result of this CNN report, Goldfarb, a 76-year-old woman, was harassed by anti-Trump trolls and nationally ridiculed and humiliated. Investigative reporting is an important part of being a journalist but tracking down an old woman and harassing her outside of her own home isn’t honest investigative journalism, it’s downright creepy.
Aside from CNN, the Huffington Post engaged in some extremely disgusting “journalism” this week. Huffington Post contributor Luke O’Brien wrote an exposé on Amy Jane Mekelberg, who goes by the username @AmyMek on Twitter. Mekelberg runs a popular Twitter account that supports President Trump, Israel, and is largely against Islam. Mekelberg’s tweets about Islam are by no means acceptable, some of them are downright disgusting, but the hit piece by O’Brien went too far. O’Brien published her brother’s business information as well as repeatedly called her husband’s place of work, WWE, until he was fired due to the controversy. Mekelberg certainly isn’t a good egg, but a deep dive into a private citizen’s life, as well as publishing irrelevant information about their family is disgraceful.
Organizations that claim to be reputable are giving airtime to baseless gossip better suited to TMZ. They’re ruining the lives of innocent people. They’re exploiting naive old people. They’re doing all this while claiming to be journalists.
And still, they pathetically defend themselves.