Another Bad Week for Journalists

Bless their little hearts

(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
February 16, 2024

Journalists are having a rough start to 2024, and this past week was a particularly bad one. Media layoffs continued as the Intercept, a pugnacious left-wing blog, slashed more than a dozen positions due to "significant financial challenges."

CNN's ratings have slumped to a record low under President Joe Biden, and the network announced additional job cuts in February. In a memo to CNN staff this week, chief executive Mark Thompson warned the network's highest-paid celebrity anchors that their exorbitant salaries "now look difficult to support." Jake Tapper, who earns more than $8.5 million per year, could be in line for a pay cut. So sad!

The media disgraced themselves this week, as they often do. After a deranged woman walked into a pro-Israel pastor's church in Houston and started shooting with a "Palestine"-branded rifle, journalists struggled to assess the shooter's motivation. Media outlets continued to defend Biden against accusations of cognitive decline and accused the president's critics of engaging in anti-scientific speculation even though many of those same media outlets were eager to diagnose former president Donald Trump as mentally unstable.

The entire media industry was humiliated this week when Charlotte Cowles, a freelance liberal journalist specializing in "financial advice," admitted to losing $50,000 in a preposterous scam. In an article for New York magazine, Cowles recounted how a scammer posing as an Amazon employee told her she'd been a victim of identity theft before putting her in touch with another scammer posing as an investigator for the Federal Trade Commission.

Cowles, 39, was ultimately connected to someone pretending to be a CIA operative in Langley, Va., who persuaded her to withdraw $50,000 from her bank account. While following instructions at the bank, she was handed a printed-out warning about financial scams. Next, while the journalist's oblivious husband was reading to their child, Cowles walked outside her home in Brooklyn and dropped the money through the window of a car driven by an "undercover" agent. Yeah, it's totally bonkers.

"I never thought I was the kind of person to fall for a scam," wrote Cowles, who boasts on her personal website of having an English degree from Columbia. Some of her fellow journalists attempted to defend Cowles for doing something that most Americans would describe as profoundly incompetent. "Everyone who thinks they're too smart, too financially aware, too tech-savvy to have this happen to them is wrong. Sorry," wrote Jessica Roy of the Los Angeles Times. (Agree to disagree.)

Liberal journalists weren't the only ones who embarrassed themselves this week. Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson went to Moscow to interview Vladimir Putin, posted videos of himself marveling at the ingenuity of Russian grocery stores, and suggested Russia was a better place to live than the United States. Putin subsequently told a Russian journalist he "didn't get much pleasure" from the interview because he expected Carlson to "be aggressive and ask tough questions." Days later, Putin (almost certainly) ordered the murder of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny.