Former Obama Administration Advisor Anita Dunn once said: “The press corps wouldn’t be doing its job if it weren’t demanding more access than we’re willing to give. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t occasionally irritate the press.”The media’s job, like it or not is not to make friends, or report that which is nice. Their job is to report “the news.”
Attracting a tremendous amount of attention this week was CNN’s decision to publish excerpt of the diary of the murdered American ambassador to Libya. CNN was criticized by some for reporting from his journal before they returned it to his family.
In a statement to The Huffington Post and other outlets, the State Department called CNN “disgusting” for using the journal against the family’s wishes, and said that CNN had done the equivalent of removing evidence from a crime scene. In an explicit email exchange today, the top spokesman for Hillary Clinton told a reporter to “f–k off.” (Link and emails at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeedpolitics/hillary-clinton-aide-tells-reporter-to-fuck-off ).
Some different opinions:
- Media Reporter Howard Kurtz said the network had made the right call: “I understand the raw feelings involved here, but my take is that CNN did the right thing in using the journal’s contents for its reporting on a vital subject and, at the same time, trying to be sensitive to the feelings of a grieving family.”
- The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald said CNN was doing “basic journalism”. CNN’s first obligation is to disclose to the public information that is newsworthy, not conceal it. Had they not reported this information, that would have been an inexcusable breach of their obligation – then the word “disgusting” would have been appropriate.”
- The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple said: “Reflections and information in the journal may be of immediate public interest, an imperative that steamrolls any considerations about privacy. Not only was CNN right to read and copy the journal, but also it was obligated by its newsgathering mission to do so.”
The mistake critics make of CNN is expecting them to report what someone else wants – and that not their job. The job of the media is to report news – whether it’s good, bad or ugly. And while Clinton’s media representatives did their job to fight with the media, as we often do as a crisis PR agency, at the end of the day, medias job is to report the news.
It may not be nice, and many may not like it, but that’s what media does.
Trust in G-d, not the media.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency, and Author of “For Immediate Release.”