Being a political journalist these days is equal parts exhilarating and exhausting. In the Trump presidency, we have an irresistible and important story that never stops giving. Our work is being read more than ever. But we also have to contend with the criticism and scrutiny that comes along with that — and the magnification of those things that social media allows. And, sometimes, it gets the better of us.
Two media stories have broken through in recent days. One involves an effort by high-profile Trump supporters to mine the old social-media postings of journalists at top outlets in the hope of publicly attacking them and undermining their employers. This has been met with condemnation by many journalists.
The other story broke overnight, and it involves conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens raising a fuss about a George Washington University professor who called him a “bedbug” on Twitter.
Stephens wrote the professor a personal email, copied his boss, compared the insult to what “totalitarian regimes” do and quit Twitter. The reaction, particularly among liberals and left-leaning journalists who have long derided Stephens, has been one of gleeful ridicule.