Johnston said he had emailed details of the document to Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, at about 5pm and offered to have a conversation on background to ensure that the document was authentic.
Spicer ignored him. Johnston emailed Spicer again shortly before broadcast, he said, and again received no reply. Then the Trump team briefed the nation’s White House correspondents on what was about to be reported elsewhere – a break from the typical rules of engagement, but not unheard of as a defensive PR tactic.
“He went and took what I gave him and gave it to other reporters,” said Johnston. “That’s as unethical as it gets. It tells me that the Trump White House lacks honor.”
It’s a very odd definition of ethics, isn’t it?
But then I never really do understand American journalism. There’s the monstrous egos for a start. Defenders of the truth and all that. They simply do not understand, at all, the English idea that it’s a craft, one there to fill in the white spaces between the advertisements. I’ve had commenters at Forbes absolutely horrified that I’ve had no formal training (admittedly, from someone who does such training). But, but, how can you write stuff without a Masters in how you should write stuff?
And then there’s the layers of editors at more formal places. I once did a piece for a part of the Washington Post. Simple 800 words on something or other, for which they were paying the princely sum of $100. There were at least three editors on that. Each asking for tiny changes of this or that, sometimes contradictory. The English idea is that editors edit. If you prefer, as a house style, to use – instead of ; then do so. Get on with it, you don’t need to go back to the writer for that.
And such layers of editing also take all the fun out of a piece. I don’t say this is a good joke but I thought it vaguely fun in a piece for Foreign Policy, referring to U 235 and 238, I explained them once and then second time around called them U-bang and U-not bang. No, not great but at least mildly fun. Got edited out of course.
And then we come to this ethics shit and all that. God they are monstrously egotistical about all of this. That’s why you’ve the snowflakes screaming about “access” to the White House and all that. They really just haven’t got that they’re the note takers for the stuff between the ads.
No, I don’t say that I’m great at it all myself but the one thing American journalism could do with is a serious bit of colonic (almost put colonial which would have been appropriate too) irrigation such is the extent of craniums inserted.
And yes, since you ask, I have had the occasional interaction with Cay Johnston.