Nolte: MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell Proves the Elite Media Have Zero Standards

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Politicon
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Politicon

You get to a point where the behavior of the establishment media stops shocking you. After decades of lies and fake news and calling hurricanes racist, you simply assume this is who they are and this is what they do. Like most of the country, I’ve just tuned them out. But, still…

How does MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and his producers still have a job?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for anyone to be fired or punished. I don’t do that.

But how does O’Donnell still have a job?

How does a prime-time anchor on a cable news channel report on a bombshell story about the president of the United States that he is not even sure is true… and keep his job?

How do the producers who allowed this happen keep their jobs after clearing a report what was, on its face, an outrageously unbelievable story about Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin co-signing loans for Donald Trump?

It’s one thing to get a story wrong.

We all oops.

This wasn’t an oops. This was a prime-time anchor on a cable news outlet choosing to report something, to drop a scoop about something he wasn’t sure about.

Now, I’m not doing what the media do to Trump; I’m not reading O’Donnell’s mind and discovering the worst possible motive.

We know for a fact that O’Donnell and MSNBC were not sure about the story because they told us they weren’t.

After the president’s attorneys threatened to file suit, O’Donnell and MSNBC pretended to retract the story and while doing so came right out and said, “We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate.”

O’Donnell actually said that.

MSNBC actually admitted that: “We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate.”

Think about that…

The current news standard at NBC News is having a prime-time anchor report something damaging about someone when “We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate.”

If that’s the standard, then there are no standards. None.

That is not a standard.

That is the absence of a standard.

But the problem here is not just O’Donnell, MSNBC, and NBC News.

The problem is the entire establishment media, and to illustrate this, let me take you back 15 years, to 2004, to this extraordinary event known as RatherGate.

In 2004, Dan Rather, who was then the “esteemed” anchor for the CBS Evening News, whose credentials reached all the way back to 1950, who reported on the Kennedy assassination and Watergate, told the world that he had documents proving that then-President George W. Bush had been AWOL during much of his time in the Texas Air National Guard.

It was fake news.

The documents were total and hilariously obvious forgeries.

And while there is no question that the left-wing Rather and his rabidly left-wing producer Mary Mapes were too invested in wanting to destroy Bush’s re-election chances to handle a story like this, they did at least attempt to verify the story, attempt to nail down second and third sources. Blinded by partisanship, they fooled themselves into believing they had the story nailed, but they did believe it.

In other words, Rather and Mapes had a helluva lot more reason to run with their story than NBC did with this oligarch BS.

Of all the lame excuses we heard from Rather and Mapes, one we never heard was, “We don’t know whether the information is inaccurate” — because had they said that, they would have been fired, tarred, feathered, strapped to a raft, and pushed out to sea — by the people in their own profession, by the elite media as it existed … then.

As it was, Rather and Mapes were eventually fired, and deserved to be, but do you want to know what happened throughout the rest of the media, including on MSNBC? The establishment media were outraged over what Rather and Mapes did, apoplectic that this scandal tarred their entire profession, furious that such a thing could happen, and obviously worried about how it might rub off on everyone.

Yep, the rest of the media immediately threw Rather and Mapes under the bus because they wanted the world to know that they found this completely unacceptable.

The backlash against Rather and Mapes was so fierce, it was the biggest story in the world for more than a week. It consumed the headlines.

Now go take a look at the media today…

*chirp, chirp*

A prime-time anchor at a major cable news outlet, an employee of MSNBC, a NBC News star, just dropped a bombshell about the president of the United States, but did so when he and MSNBC and NBC News and all those producers admit they didn’t “know whether the information is inaccurate” — and it’s crickets out there.

No outrage in the media.

No distancing of themselves.

No one calling for accountability.

O’Donnell hasn’t even been suspended.

And do you want to know why?

Do you want to know what’s changed so much since 2004?

The media no longer give a damn. They don’t care about public trust. They don’t care about truth or standards or moral authority. It’s all just shit-posting now, trolling, venting hate, spreading lies, creating tension, and hoping enough voters blame how exhausting it all is on the Bad Orange Man so the Bad Orange Man goes away.

Again, I’m not calling on anyone to be fired, but the fact that Lawrence O’Donnell and those behind-the-scenes who are responsible for this have been allowed to keep on keeping on… Well, the media was pretty biased and dishonest in 2004, and still they found a way to fall further… so much further. The media used to at least pretend to have standards.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

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