Media on Media

Lamentation and petty thievery.

NBC’s Ronna McDaniel Tantrum 

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board denounced NBC News’ rapid hiring and firing of ex-RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, while making clear it wouldn’t vouch for McDaniel as an astute or trustworthy spokesperson for the Republican party. 

The editorial instead targets NBC’s inept handling of the matter, the on-air pile-ons that, in the board’s view, phonily invoked the protection of America’s very democratic foundations as reasons for newsroom discontent, and the hypocrisy of making those claims in light of recent “dissimulations” broadcast by the network. 

These failures impugn not just NBC or MSNBC, the piece argues. They’re instead the latest in a series of failings by a mainstream media that wonders why the public no longer trusts it while seeming to actively erode that trust itself. 

No News Is Bad News 

Simon Kuper writes what reads like an obituary for the mass-media age in The Economist. “The internet’s destruction of media is nearing completion,” he says. The numbers justify the dirge. 

America has lost two-thirds of its newspaper journalists since 2005. Linear television, and the professionally vetted (if not always well) news it imparted, is becoming more of a niche antiquity each year. Social media platforms have relegated news content to the sidelines, and not just out of spite, but because it’s an afterthought for the bulk of its users, constituting just 3% of what Meta visitors now see on their timelines. 

Kuper provides scant consolation with the argument that people of the 20th century were unusually well-informed, and that, even then, intellectuals decried their ignorance. But closing with a quote by Thomas Jefferson proves that Kuper doesn’t intend to comfort: “if a nation ¡expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilization,it expects what never was & never will be.”

The Real D.C. Crime Wave

Amid all the grim media news, journalists are still capable of having a good laugh, even at their own expense. A widely circulated post in Politico’s West Wing Playbook had some fun with the news of a crackdown on White House press corp members with coveted Air Force One Access pilfering engraved whiskey tumblers, dinner plates, pillowcases and whatever else they could get away with from the storied aircraft.   

White House officials don’t intend to discipline or even embarrass the apparently large number of sticky-fingered offenders. Arrangements have been made to discreetly return the lifted goods. The move is a step in the direction of probity, but D.C. reporters have nonetheless mourned the bygone era of “coming down the back stairs after returning to Joint Base Andrews in the evening with the sounds of clinking glassware or porcelain plates in their backpacks.”