This is an analysis of “reputational damage,” meaning organizations and individuals who have damaged (or further damaged) their public standing. For that reason, you won’t find CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times, NBC News, or Bill Kristol on this list. As reprehensible as their behavior has been over the past week, their reputations are already in the toilet.
But there were those with residual integrity who did take a hit, and in some cases, a major one.
- Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd
It’s no secret Chuck Todd’s a left-winger and has been one throughout his NBC career. It’s also no secret the election of Donald Trump has radicalized Todd into straight-up activism. Something I have always respected about Todd, though, is his intelligence. He’s no dummy, and despite his obvious biases, he tends to come off as sober and intelligent, even when his analysis is more wish-casting than grounded in reality.
That all melted away late last week, though, when Todd made a public fool of himself to embrace BuzzFeed’s fake news, kiss it on the lips, buy it dinner, and take it home to meet Mom and Dad.
Even before the BuzzFeed story collapsed, there were a ton of red flags. And I am not saying so in hindsight. I listed nine reasons to be very, very, very skeptical some 12 hours before Special Counsel Robert Mueller dropped his devastating fact check.
(This might be a better metaphor: Watching Todd run amok with the BuzzFeed story was like watching a middle-aged married man chase a 19-year-old blonde. Oh, baby, I’m gunna get me a piece of that impeachment!)
Either way, what a spectacle it was to watch Todd light his remaining virtues as a political analyst on fire with this early-morning hyperventilation, his smirking I-Think-The-Blonde-Digs-Me analysis throughout the day, and that jaw-dropping nightcap starring — I still can’t believe it — Lanny Davis.
For reasons I will never comprehend, a legitimately smart guy like Todd invited the disgraced Lanny Davis to appear on his daily MSNBC show to help confirm the BuzzFeed story.
Davis is not only a proven liar, his shameless and admitted lies tarred Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein’s reputation irreparably.
Honestly, and maybe because I know Todd a little bit, it was an out-of-body experience watching Todd beg a disgraced hack to affirm his glee over the Trump’s imminent impeachment. Watch for yourself:
I was embarrassed for the guy.
I still am.
- BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith
The first consequential story BuzzFeed has broken in a year-plus not only blew up in editor-in-chief Ben Smith’s face, it revealed he had hired Jason Leopold, a proven left-wing liar and serial fabulist.
You might not believe Smith’s reputation could go any lower after his decision to publish the Clinton campaign’s fake Russian dossier on Trump, but his left-wing BuzzFeed bosses could at least cheer that on for partisan reasons. Smith hiring Leopold is something altogether different, an error of judgment that has fatally tarnished all things BuzzFeed.
What is especially unsettling is that, among other things, Leopold is infamous for blowing consequential stories based on unnamed sources, and here is Smith allowing Leopold to push everything into the middle of the table with a story based on … unnamed sources.
What’s more, Leopold and his co-reporter could not even get their story straight on the question of whether they had seen documents proving their story true — which points to a deliberate attempt on BuzzFeed and Smith’s part to mislead the public.
And Smith is now an even bigger laughingstock for standing by this fake news.
BuzzFeed is a left-wing organization. Yes, that has always been true. But now, like CNN and NBC News and the Washington Post, its reputation as a fake news punchline is cemented forever.
It is one thing to be seen as biased. To be seen as unreliable and deceptive is something you never recover from.
- The Catholic Church
Watching the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington publicly condemn their own, watching the Diocese join the howling online mob to virtue signal against a group of innocent high school kids before all the facts were known… I am speechless.
As a practicing Catholic, I am now numbed by my disgust.
The Catholic Church has become a place where child rapists are protected and innocent children are judged and condemned.
- National Review
Thanks primarily to David French and Jonah Goldberg, National Review has already suffered a reputational collapse that was unimaginable just a few short years ago. What happened this week, though, still beggars belief.
National Review’s thoughtless and energetic embrace of both the BuzzFeed hoax and the condemnation of the Covington kids is almost certainly a permanent game changer for the Never Trump outlet.
And it was not just that one article purplishly titled “The Covington Students Might as Well Have Just Spit on the Cross.” You also had National Review’s editor Rich Lowry smearing those kids on Twitter, as did Jay Nordlinger; and Goldberg defended the “Might as Well Have Just Spit on the Cross” article as merely “different people reaching different conclusions or having different opinions.”
Yes, the article was eventually taken down. Nordlinger deleted his tweet. Lowry deleted his tweets, and THREE whole days later the editors apologized… But it was all too little too late. The mask slipped and it was not pretty.
In one fell swoop, National Review went from “standing up for conservative principals by opposing Trump” to “opposing Trump by demonizing innocent kids.”
No one will ever look at his once-cherished institution in the same way again, nor should they.
- CNN’s Kirsten Powers
Kirsten Powers was once seen by conservatives as a thoughtful left-winger who stood up for religious and intellectual freedom.
But now, like some neurotic conspiracy theorist, and despite all the video evidence proving otherwise, she is still all alone in accusing the Covington kids of calling their own classmate the “N-word”.
No one can take away your credibility, you can only give it away.