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A Day in the Life of a Traumatized Journalist

Exclusive excerpts from a soldier on the front lines of the war against democracy

• January 4, 2022 3:50 pm

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America's journalists are suffering, folks. Covering the Trump presidency and the COVID-19 pandemic was the physical, intellectual, and moral equivalent of serving on the front lines in World War II. Alas, because our nation's journalists are notoriously reluctant to draw attention to themselves, their trauma remains largely hidden from public view.

Until now.

The Washington Free Beacon has exclusively obtained the following excerpt from a diary entry written by a traumatized journalist. It documents a day in the life of an American journalist struggling to keep it together during what is surely one of the most traumatic periods in human history. Enjoy!

7:05 AM — Wake up. Remove N95 mask. Swab nose for rapid Covid test and set aside. Put N95 mask back on and assess inventory of remaining Covid tests. Supply is in good shape thanks to your editor, whose husband used to work for Antony Blinken's consulting firm.

7:10 AM — Place Gore-Tex sheath over N95 mask and take a shower. Weep silently for everything you and your fellow journalists have sacrificed during the pandemic. Think of story ideas to pitch to your editor.

7:25 AM — Check test results. Negative! Make some coffee and text friends (and family members you haven't disowned for supporting Trump or getting Covid) to let them know you're safe.

7:30 AM — Check email. You squint cautiously at the screen. Following your therapist's advice, you created a special filter to block anything related to the upcoming anniversary of the January 6 uprising, but it doesn't always work. An all-staff memo notes that company offices remain closed after a couple of unmasked toddlers wandered into the lobby of the New York City headquarters. The incident is being investigated. Some of your colleagues on the Slack have suggested it was a deliberate biological attack by right-wing terrorists who want to silence journalists.  

7:45 AM — Surf the web. Check ESPN for soccer scores and latest info on the WNBA draft. Refresh CDC website for any updates on getting a fourth shot of the vaccine. Open incognito window and pull up the latest from Andy Borowitz. You know you're not supposed to find him funny, but your therapist has urged you to take the word "guilty" out of your guilty pleasures. New post: "Ivanka Trump Reportedly Begged Putin to Order Her Dad to Stop Capitol Attack." You LOL, but the headline also triggers your PTSD. Stupid worthless filter. 

8:00 AM — Assume fetal position on kitchen floor. Ask Alexa to shuffle songs on "Soothing Ambience 2" playlist. Take deep breaths and try not to laugh. THERE IS NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT THE ASSAULT ON AMERICAN DEMOCRACY!!!

9:15 AM — Jolted awake by the sound of your own screaming. Immediately check sweatpants for signs of trouble. Very moist, but you're pretty sure it's just sweat. Someone is knocking on the door. It's the breakfast order you placed last night before bed: Heirloom avocado paste on sprouted grain bread with extra arugula, $46.99 plus tax. The delivery guy is wearing a single cloth mask that doesn't even cover his nose. You slam the door in his face and tell him to leave the food on the floor, plus a few obscenities thrown in for good measure. You pull up the delivery app on your phone and reduce the tip from 12 percent to zero percent. He seemed way too old and frail to be delivering food anyway. Must have gone to a state school. 

9:25 AM — Check your phone. You have two missed calls from your editor, so you ring her back. You're too damn proud to request another day off for self-care, so you decide to power through and pitch her the following story ideas: 1) "How to Talk to Your 8-Year-Old Nephew About ‘Harry Potter' and The Author Who Must Not Be Named," 2) "How the New CNN+ Streaming Service Could Be a Safe Alternative to Sending Kids to School," 3) "Twitter Sleuths Raise Doubts About Casey DeSantis Cancer Diagnosis," and 4) "Why You Shouldn't Feel Bad About Berating Your Maskless Delivery Driver." 

9:45 AM — Editor liked all your ideas, but first she wants you to write 900 words on "What the United States Can Learn From China's Bold Treatment of Covid Scofflaws." And by "write" she actually means "edit and add your byline" to some copy provided by one of our business partners. You make a few quick changes, mostly to avoid repetitive use of the word "racism," and hit publish.

10:05 AM — Eat breakfast. Drink more coffee. After scrolling Twitter for almost two hours, you compose an extended thread about how white men are ruining America. Don't want it to come across as too edgy, but the fact that you are a white man should force people to take it seriously. Like a Soviet intellectual scolding the Kremlin for failing to live up to the ideals of the Revolution. Click "tweet," and watch as the retweets and favs come rolling in.  

12:30 PM — Pull up the Cameo website to see if Ta-Nehisi Coates or Nikole Hannah-Jones are available for one-on-one live video chats. (They aren't, but it was worth a shot.) 

12:35 PM — Time to order some lunch. 

(Stay tuned for future excerpts, which will be published as soon as they become available.)

Published under: Brian Stelter, Journalists