Here's an episode which indicates that many reporters in the establishment press expect the worst from Donald Trump, and can't wait to put it out there when they think they have it.
On Friday, when Time Magazine political reporter Zeke Miller didn't immediately see the bust of Martin Luther King in the White House's Oval Office where he expected to see it, his knee-jerk assumption was that it was no longer there. So he tweeted that it was gone, with no indication that he first attempted to confirm with anyone in a position to know that it had been removed. Sensing a golden opportunity, others in the press accepted Miller's non-observation and freely retweeted it.
Miller's tweet was apparently not visible for long, but that didn't stop others from trying to expand the non-story's scope, including Sam Stein, the obsessively agenda-driven Huffington Post Senior Politics Editor and MSNBC Morning Joe panelist, who tweeted:
Sure, Sam. HuffPo clearly isn't paying Stein for his astute news judgment.
Among those who relayed Miller's original tweet were Jennifer Jacobs, Justin Sink and Mike Dorning at Bloomberg News, as seen in an apology tweet from Miller:
Miller's "explanation" for his initial reporting was that, as described at The Hill, "the bust had been obscured by a door and a Secret Service agent."
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Bloomberg's Jacobs betrayed the media mindset as she announced Miller's retraction to her readers:
Translation: "Darn it, after the fantastically scandal-free Obama administration (we know because the Obama folks said so, and that's enough for us), we thought we had a Day 1 scandal on Trump." Note how the media's definition of "scandal," which somehow did not include Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS harassment of conservative not-for-profits and so many others, changed instantly once Donald Trump was inaugurated.
One of Miller's many apology tweets gave the rest of the press too much of a benefit of the doubt: "This is on me, not my colleagues." Wrong. Miller never confirmed the alleged absence of the MLK bust with anyone in the Trump administration. Since he didn't indicate that he had done that, and didn't link to a web article reporting that he had, the alleged "story" was still nothing more than an unsubstantiated, irresponsibly tweeted rumor.
To be clear, Miller has to his credit done all he can to correct the error, and Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer has accepted Miller's apology. But on such an obviously sensitive manner, Miller's failure to confirm before tweeting is very hard to understand, except in the context of a predisposition towards a "this is just too good to check" mentality.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Miller has been in the media business for over seven years, and is nearing his four-year anniversary with Time. During the 15 previous months, Miller was a politics reporter for Buzzfeed. Readers can draw their own conclusions as to how much influence Buzzfeed's "throw it out there and see what sticks" mindset, as seen in its recent release of 35 pages of "damaging, unverified claims against Trump," had on Miller's behavior.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.