Nineteen years ago Tuesday, The Drudge Report introduced the world to Monica Lewinsky and changed journalism forever. Now, at a time when sensationalism and salacious headlines are again dominating the news, the media industry is confronting one of the toughest challenges it has faced at any time since: how to cover President Trump.
Clearly emboldened by the media malpractice that defined much of 2016, Trump has been testing journalists on a near-daily basis since winning the election. He has attempted to manipulate press coverage through early-morning Twitter rampages, trumped up job-creation announcements, and, most recently, the farcical news conference he convened last week, the ostensible purpose of which was to discuss how he’ll avoid conflicts of interest in his business dealings. (Spoiler: He won’t.) Taking questions from reporters for the first time since July, Trump marked the occasion by berating news organizations for running stories he didn’t like about his campaign’s purported coordination with Russia.
In fairness, BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the unverified contents of a sensationalistic dossier compiled by a former British intelligence official detailing Trump’s alleged Russian contacts was a matter of legitimate disagreement among journalists. But the whole spectacle was also a timely reminder that the media, like the rest of the country, are entering uncharted territory as Trump assumes the presidency. And in this brave new world, if we hope to succeed in holding power to account, we’re going to have to step up our game.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.