Time magazine ran a bit about how President Trump got two scoops of ice cream for desert after a dinner interview, while everyone else got just one. CNN then ran a few stories about it.
So far, not fake news. Ah, but that’s not the issue. The issue is how Breitbart and Hannity are responding to the story. Here’s Hannity’s tweet:
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 11, 2017
The implication is that the story isn’t newsworthy, so CNN (and Time) are undercut as news organizations for running with it.
The first thing is a version of the weak man point. Judging a news organization on the basis of its weakest story is uncharitable, especially if it’s a slower news day. Puff pieces happen when you’ve got a 24-hour news channel. One nut-picked puff piece does not a case against a network make. So long as it’s not made up, poorly sourced, or misleading, how exactly is this bad journalism?
The second thing is that I’m not sure what the argument against the story is beyond the implication that it comes off a little petty. But here’s the thing: the character of the President of the United States is a matter of significant import. (I’d posted something on this point about ad hominem a little while back.) And what we seem to keep getting is a picture of a very selfish person. Sure, it’s not a scoop on whether there are “tapes” of the conversation Trump had with Comey, and it’s not a discovery of evidence of collusion with Russia. But it is yet one more story confirming what we’d had a pretty good idea of to begin with, and that the office has had no change on the character of the man inhabiting it.