In an effort to harm Tucker Carlson, NY Times columnist breaks journalistic ethics rule, outs confidential source

Tucker Carlson is the left's "current Bogeyman No. 2, after Donald Trump," observes J. Peder Zane in a commentary at Real Clear Politics, and I think he is right.  Night after night, Carlson goes in depth uncovering hypocrisies, lies, and outrages being perpetrated by the powerful and connected elites that run the country and its media.  So, as with Trump, powerful members of the media are willing to break the old rules of journalism to take him down.

The object of Zane's critique is Ben Smith, formerly the editor of BuzzFeed and now a columnist for the New York Times.

The New York Times has decided it is fine to out a confidential source — provided his name is Tucker Carlson. Its media columnist, Ben Smith, reports that the Fox News star is "the go-to guy for sometimes-unflattering stories about Donald J. Trump and for coverage of the internal politics of Fox News (not to mention stories about Mr. Carlson himself)."

Breaking a cardinal rule of journalistic ethics, Smith identifies Carlson as one of his own "off-the-record" sources. So, too, did "16 other journalists ... [who] told me on background that he has been, as three of them put it, 'a great source.'"

Betraying no self-awareness of his cynicism, Smith underscores the transgressive nature of these disclosures by noting that none of the 16 work at the Times because "it would put my colleagues in a weird position if I asked them" to betray a source. Translation: He's happy to have his competitors violate sacred rules.

The one offender Smith does name is Brian Stelter, the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" (and Times alumnus) who routinely casts himself as the conscience of journalism, who told him "you can see Tucker's fingerprints all over" his anti-Fox book, "Hoax."

So, Tucker plays a double- or triple-game, leaking information to ostensible rivals and ideological enemies, presumably seeking some advantage for himself.  I am far from shocked.  Carlson has been in television commentary for decades and has worked at all three of the big cable news networks.  He's not just a survivor; he has emerged at the top of the game, with the highest ratings and greatest impact.  In a snake pit like the media, it helps to be a little snaky yourself.  I'll judge him by what he presents on his show, which is generally outstanding,

As long as Tucker keeps bringing us stories that matter, that are too hot for others to handle, I'll forgive him a lot of manipulativeness.

Smith, on the other hand, has just advertised to all future potential confidential sources that he is not to be trusted.


Ben Smith (photo credit: Neon Tommy ,CC BY-SA 2.0 license).

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