Friday, March 24, 2017
Miles from the Mainstream
D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor

More from Jim Rutenberg of Rutenberg’s Rules for Radical Reporters

January 5, 2017 --

Mr. Rutenberg, media columnist for The New York Times, told readers, in his December 26 column: “[I]t is not the mainstream, non-opinion news media’s job to determine outcomes.” LPR was fascinated by this assertion, for two reasons: first, it contradicts Mr. Rutenberg’s August 8 column 8 column,calling on reporters to be subjective in writing about Donald J., Trump; and second, behold that “non-opinion” loophole.

Apparently, Mr. Rutenberg has no problem with the policy at The New York Times of running only anti-Trump opinion pieces – and hardly any pro-Trump letters. (If anyone knows of a pro-Trump opinion piece from a regular Times columnist, please inform LPR. Same goes if anyone knows of a pro-Trump column from a Times outsider.)

Consider, now, the title of Mr. Rutenberg’s August 8 column, appearing on the paper’s front page, that day: “The Challenge Trump Poses to Objectivity.” When it came to covering Donald J. Trump, Mr. Rutenberg advised reporters : “If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous , then you’re reporting is going to reflect that.” In effect, Mr. Rutenberg told reporters to “throw out” the basic “who, what, when, where, why and how “ of journalistic tradition and replace it with “I believe….”

In his December 26 addendum to the initial appearance of his rules for radical reporters, Mr. Rutenberg also asserted: “It is political journalism’s job to be true to the facts in a way that helps envision what the candidate will be like in the nation’s highest office.”

But this comment must be understood in the context of the August 8 column, so that Rutenberg is actually telling reporters to be true to what they believe the candidate will be like in office, and make sure the reader will be persuaded by your account.

At the end of the column, Mr. Rutenberg warns reporters against “aggressively seeking to undermine journalism for their own political ends.” Seems to LPR that The New York Times has long ago discarded journalism for its “own political ends.”