CHUCK TODD: This presents a very difficult situation. I face it myself personally from him sometimes, we face it as a network, where he personalizes coverage and disagreements about coverage with the organization and sometimes with individual reporters. You're a human being, I'm a human being. It's not easy sometimes doing that.Is Todd play-acting, trying to drum up sympathy? It makes no sense. Consumers of journalism don't worry about how the reporters feel. But Todd could be mistaken and think acting wounded will cause viewers to want to defend him against mean old Trump. I doubt it. So maybe Todd really is hurting. But that seems ridiculous. Cover the news! If someone in the news is a gigantic bastard, so much the better for the news provider. Tell the story. What's this "I'm a human being" business?
Todd asks Baquet: "How are you instructing your journalists to handle the personal attacks that may come his way in a very public setting?" This is an odd question, and not just because of the awkward, ungrammatical "his." It assumes instruction must be given to reporters, like they're snowflakes in need of a safe room.
Baquet doesn't buy into the drama. He takes what I think is the obvious professional position: "[W]e have a huge obligation to cover this guy aggressively and fairly. And that means not letting personalities get in the way." He concedes that Trump's antagonism is "annoying" and takes note of a possible threat to First Amendment values, but he completely avoids the emotionalism of taking it personally. He puts any "personal stuff" "off to the side." Well, of course.
Next Todd brought on the editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, Gerard Baker. Todd played a clip of Trump calling the WSJ "a piece of garbage" and then asked Baker "How did you handle the direct attacks?"
Baker, like Baquet, took the professional approach. You just "get used to it." Trump has his style. The WSJ reporters know what it is. They deal with it. Baker observes that at least he can tell that Trump is reading his newspaper.
Bringing up a "leaked memo" from Baker that said "Everybody's got to be fair to him," Todd says:
Were you concerned that the personal attacks were going to make some of your reporters react? They're human. We're all human beings. And when you personally get attacked, it's hard to sort of set that aside.There's that human business again.
Baker concedes he was "concerned," but immediately changes the subject from how reporters feel to what Trump is like. He's "different." And some reporters feel that they're in a "contest" with Trump, which sounds a tad emotional, but Baker doesn't pursue the feelings. He just says "it's reporters' jobs to take everybody on, you know, to test everything that a politician says against the truth." In other words: professionalism.