If you ["you," the "working journalist"] view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.Key word: normal.
But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?Boldface added.
Covering Mr. Trump as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate is more than just a shock to the journalistic system. It threatens to throw the advantage to his news conference-averse opponent, Hillary Clinton, who should draw plenty more tough-minded coverage herself.Yes, yes, I know. Journalists already routinely threw the advantage to Democratic Party candidates. It's not some new threat. It is the norm. So what's he talking about? What's this new threshold the journalists are crossing? Why talk about this now? To excuse the failure to cover stories about Hillary? Rutenberg worries about the journalistic value called "balance," then tries to discount it:
But let’s face it: Balance has been on vacation since Mr. Trump stepped onto his golden Trump Tower escalator last year to announce his candidacy. For the primaries and caucuses, the imbalance played to his advantage, captured by the killer statistic of the season: His nearly $2 billion in free media was more than six times as much as that of his closest Republican rival.But he had 16 rivals, and they were all, in sequence, attacking him. Even if he got 6 times as much as his closest rival (presumably Ted Cruz), what was the total amount his 16 rivals got as they all chose the strategy of hitting him? And what about the Democrats who got free media to attack him? I don't have enough numbers to do the math, but it sounds as though more free media was used attacking him than he himself received. I'm not convinced "Balance has been on vacation"! The balance has gone against Trump from Day 1. How the hell did he fight through all of that?
Rutenberg (and the journalists he's talking to and about) must be dumbfounded by the power of this man to survive the months of brutal beating he got in the media. What if journalists don't have the power to destroy? What if Trump gains power from their opposition?
It must be terrifying to stand naked. But there is cover if Hillary can only be carried to the finish line. They won't cover her, but she can cover them.