12/27/2016 by Dylan James Harper
Slate recently published an article by one of its leading content creators entitled I Participated in the Russian Intelligence Plot to Elect Donald Trump, and I Guess I’d Do It Again, in which the author, Ben Mathis-Lilley, slogs on for what seems like forever about how he just had to post info learned from Russian hacks that was detrimental to Clinton because he’s a ‘journalist’ and that’s what ‘journalists’ do. Journalism is dead, and the gross malformed, headline specialists at Slate that replaced it are a key reason Trump was elected.
Slate, which is an unabashedly left leaning pseudo-publication (just ask anyone on the right), wanted to have its cake and eat it to. Slate almost certainly didn’t want Donald Trump elected, but they knew that there was an appetite among their audience to see Hillary Clinton disparaged whenever possible. Whether it be from the notorious Bernie Bros, or left-leaning libertarians, the regular readers (and certainly regular commenters) of Slate definitely demonstrated a consistent exultation at anything that was willing to take even a slightly snarky tone and direct it towards Clinton.
After Trump’s victory, and the eventual news from the CIA that Russia was in fact partially responsible for acquiring and distributing information about Clinton that they thought might prevent her from becoming president, Slate quickly realized that their participation in the Clinton smear campaign wasn’t a good look. Instead of apologize for not having even the slightest bit for foresight or journalistic integrity, they decided instead to lean into the problem, characterize it as really a problem among everyone in the media, not just them, and claim it’s really not their fault anyone because some of what the Russian distributed ended up being true and it’d be unethical not to print true facts.
This blatant disregard for context reminds me of a site that circulated some time ago that would, without any additional commentary or explanation, post police blotter reports involving the arrests of black individuals (not to be confused with Drudge Report). When criticized, the operators of the site would simply say they were only publishing factual information. Their audience of racists seeking validation got to see an array of contextless anecdotal proof that their racism was justified, and spineless liberals mostly shrugged it off. Of course, to anyone with even an iota of critical thinking ability, displaying such information sends a clear message to the reader, because it’s not just what someone is reporting, but how it gets reported. The content creators at Slate certainly know this objective fact about journalism, but are choosing to ignore it for convenience, and once more are getting really self-righteous about it.
If the tone of his defensive screed is any indication, Ben Mathis-Lilley likely sleeps pretty well at night, firm in his belief that he was just doing his job as a journalist, and the long term consequences of a Trump presidency aren’t actually his fault because he was just doing his job. The world has been plagued by people just doing their jobs all throughout history, and although it’s a very different political landscape with very different jobs, the consequences remain the same. People like Ben Mathis-Lilley, and most of the political team at Slate just did their jobs, but their jobs, and the entire design of a site like Slate, had consequences. Until someone with influence at that site grows a spine, they’ll continue to contribute to a increasingly grim future.
Dylan James Harper is the Chief Political Editor for CSuiteMusic
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