Robert De Niro owns two Oscars and a legacy of iconic film roles. Classic rock radio wouldn’t be the same without David Crosby’s signature songs.
Together, they’re an integral part of American pop culture.
What they lack, though, is a collective ounce of journalism training. Still, two major news outlets gave them space to weigh in on President Donald Trump.
Very bad call.
It’s not that the President, or any elected leader, should be immune from criticism. Nor does it mean tnon-journalists aren’t allowed to crack the op-ed section.
It’s the meat of their commentaries that matter. An editor should have eyeballed each submission and said, “thanks, but we’ll pass on this.” The fact that they didn’t speaks to journalism’s swift, disastrous decline in the Age of Trump.
The op-eds in question excoriated President Trump with smoke, mirrors and precious few facts. That, plus the celebrity cachet, coaxed the respective editors to give them the green light.
Let’s start with De Niro’s Washington Post column. The op-ed came out just after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s disastrous day on the Hill. Folks on the Left and Right acknowledged the obvious. Mueller barely knew the report that bared his name.
De Niro’s big hook?
He’s played Mueller repeatedly on “Saturday Night Live.” That, plus the star’s record of attacking Trump, was enough for the paper where “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
First, we got De Niro offering an actor’s perspective on Mueller’s appearance.
But I, more of a method actor, would have channeled my inner rage at the years of Donald Trump’s illegal and immoral acts, and I would have been more in touch with my fury after two years of Trump and his stooges accusing me of running a witch hunt.
What illegal and immoral acts? De Niro doesn’t list them.
Next, the actor pretended the Mueller Report revealed impeachment-level crimes.
Even before Wednesday’s testimony, the report gave the Democrats what they had expected: detailed documentary proof of Russia’s aggressive interference in our democratic process, evidence of Trump’s criminal obstruction of justice, and a diabolical catalogue of his campaign’s encouragement of Russian aid in electing him.
Mueller himself said, again, during the hearing that the Trump administration didn’t impede his investigation.
So why print the opposite? This isn’t DeNiroFan.Blogspot.com, mind you. It’s one of the country’s most august publications.
De Niro’s column, to its credit, boasts some clever conceits about the line between actor and public servant. Crosby’s Daily Beast screed, by comparison, is pure embarrassment.
Crosby begins with a clipped history lesson on Russia, neglecting to credit President Ronald Reagan for the Soviet Union’s collapse. A regrettable mistake, most likely. Crosby then moves on to the alleged Trump-Russian connection.
In Donald Trump, they saw an opportunity that could not be better for them. Here was a man so ignorant, and so completely unaware of geopolitics, that he could be outwitted and misled before Putin got out of bed in the morning, easily—even without the very real possibility that Putin has incriminating evidence with which to blackmail the president.
Modern journalists often link to outside web sites to corroborate data or simply buttress a point. Here, Crosby links to a Jimmy Kimmel rant about the “pee tape” evidence against Trump. It’s one of the silliest, least credible accusations against a politician in decades. And Crosby calls it a “very real possibility.”
Yes, that nugget sailed past the Daily Beast editors.
Crosby, the subject of a new rock documentary from Cameron Crowe, places a Reynolds Wrap hat on his head for the journalistic “kill shot.”
It seems clear to me that Russia may well have some kind of info they are using to blackmail Trump with—“kompromat” as the Russians call it. It could be the alleged “pee tape,” could be some truth to the whispers that Trump has been laundering Russian mob money for at least 20 years through his New York real estate deals, stashing illegal money in multimillion-dollar apartments and condos all over town. Could just be the fact he lied about working on a deal for Trump Tower Moscow while he was running to be President of the United States in 2016. This could be why Trump is so completely under the control of Russia and so utterly disloyal to the United States.
Like his predecessor?
Obama was famously caught on an open microphone in 2012 telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” after the election (“I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev replied). In 2009, Obama undermined Poland and the Czech Republic by canceling US missile-defense agreements in a move that Moscow would have welcomed, and in 2014 he stood by as Putin annexed Crimea.
Compare that to some of Trump’s Russian dealings.
In his Putin meeting last week, Trump made unseemly jokes about “fake news” not being a problem in Russia. But he has also approved a massive arms and aid package for Ukraine; expelled Russian diplomats; authorized multiple rounds of new sanctions against Moscow for everything from election interference to treaty violations; withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; persuaded NATO allies to increase their defense investments; and twice bombed Putin’s ally, the Assad regime, for Syria’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. And before the Putin meeting, Trump announced that he is considering imposing new economic sanctions to block construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would allow Russia to increase flows of natural gas to Germany.
Solid op-eds link to material that backs up the writer’s claims. Crosby doesn’t even bother toward the end of his piece … because he can’t. Didn’t Stephen Colbert reference the “pee tape,” too? C’mon, Crosby, did the dog eat your homework?
It’s pure Trump Derangement Syndrome, months after Mueller’s infamous report couldn’t connect Trump to Russia following a nearly two-year long investigation.
Trump repeatedly says Fake News is the enemy of the people. He makes a good point, but here’s another. Modern journalists are their own worst enemy.