Examination of Conscience

Everyone knows that Catholics confess. Not everyone knows that, before they do, they perform an examination of conscience: a mental inventory of their sins. It is a purposeful, conscious act. But it is not the only way for the conscience to bring past failures to the surface. Conversations revisiting the past can serve that purpose. Apparently that is what happened to Jeffrey Toobin.

Before posting this, I want to say that, among media personalities, Toobin is one that I found least offensive in the 2015-2016 election cycle, yet he feels some guilt.

Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on stage during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis in October 2016. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

So long as President Trump continues disgracing the Oval Office, thoughtful people will probe their own role in helping him get there.

Such appeared to be the motivation behind a mea culpa issued by CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on comedian Larry Wilmore’s “Black on the Air” podcast. In a discussion of presidential politics, Wilmore argued that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, was the victim of a “coordinated attack” coming from Republicans. “Benghazi was … the expression of that attack. In fact, what’s his name, was it [former Rep. Jason] Chaffetz who actually kind of agreed that that’s what they were doing, was weakening her as a candidate.” (Wilmore may have been referring to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who said in 2015, ““Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”)

No question about the attack on Clinton, responded Toobin, citing “all that bogus stuff about the Clinton Foundation” — perhaps a reference to the Uranium One story or even to the pre-election reporting of Bret Baier — later withdrawn — that there would be an indictment relating to the foundation.

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Perhaps it is time for other media personalities to examine their roles in the avalanche of false equivalences that preoccupied reportage during the election cycle. After all, their “normal” role is to communicate postions on issues and policies put forth by candidates. There was an imbalance to these false equivalences. Trump’s bad behavior and prejudices were right out front for all to see. Of course they merited reporting. Bells and whistles should have gone off when the negatives they reported on the other side were obscure and lacked evidence.

Donald Trump was an unusually immoral candidate. Reporting his indiscretions and outrageous remarks should not have precipitated a hunt for transgressions on the other side so assiduous as to co-opt fictions being circulated by questionable sources. Their normal job should have been to question those sources and to report the excellent and extensive policies and plans Hillary Clinton was outlining at every campaign stop.

It is time for all of them to examine their consciences. We can thank Jeffrey Toobin for leading the way.



2 Responses

  1. on January 30, 2018 at 8:53 am | Reply Michele G Crosby

    I certainly hope that more journalists will follow suit, but I don’t know if they will.

    Liked by 1 person

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