President-elect made this bed, now he must lie in it
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The outrage. The indignation. The self-flagellation.

Can we cut to the chase and just call it dossier-gate.

The facts are pretty tired already. A former British intelligence officer was hired to do opposition research on Trump and his relationship with Russia. The resulting dossier was filled with innuendo, suggestions of attempted bribery and a lurid description of certain “sex” acts that has provoked more than one awkward conversation with parents and spouses as to “what does that mean?”

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None of it is proven and several journalists passed on publishing it when they discovered it earlier in the election cycle – precisely because it could not be verified. The dossier raised it is prurient head again this week when the current and incoming presidents were briefed on it by the very intelligence services President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump stays out of Arizona's ugly and costly GOP fight Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller MORE has so decried. CNN reported the briefing and nothing more. 

Buzzfeed did a dump of the degenerative data.

Let the breast beating begin.

CNN was hailed as responsible for reporting the briefing but nothing more. Buzzfeed was pilloried by many “traditional” journalists for breaching ethical standards of spreading unsubstantiated smut (even as Buzzfeed said it was unsubstantiated).

Some countered the very act of the briefing made it fair game as it was deemed worthy of repeating by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Ethical lines have been drawn.

Civil war has all but been declared in journalistic circles.

And then along came Trump. Protesting his outrage, decrying the fake news.

Denying it would ever happen. Declaring it the work of a failing news organization – Buzzfeed (ignoring the several hundred million dollars recently pumped into its coffers). And then ignoring a CNN question at the press conference and dismissing CNN as a fake news network.

But in all the heated ethical grandstanding one thing is missing. This is the very world of innuendo, unverified assertion, and lurid, deprecating detail that Trump rode to the presidency.

From the birther claims, overtly calling for Hillary to be jailed for her crimes when she was not charged with any, to the gross stereotyping of just about any ethnic minority he can think of, Trump made just this type of pseudo-information headline news.

And often with less substantiation than the unsubstantiated dossier.

So Mr. President-elect, you made this bed, you get to lie in it now. So stop complaining.

Sure the purists can say journalism should be above that, and maybe it should. But the reality is that this is the new normal. Just as the falling man photograph on 9/11 changed the kind of pictures that would make it to the front page, so Mr Trump, I would say unfortunately, has changed the barometer on what can be published.

Just like the President-elect himself, we are facing a media future without a filter.

So get used to it. Because if you are looking for a safe space, you will need to look somewhere other than media for the next four years at least. And to all those ethical puritans expressing their outrage, exclaiming what journalism should be, it might be worth remembering how much success King Canute had holding back the tide.

Welcome to the media in the age of Trump. It’s our new normal.

Gelb is a an Emmy Award winning television producer and journalism professor, who spent more than a decade with CNN. He is currently the director of the Washington Media Institute and a co-founder of DCWitness.org, a homicide tracking news site. Follow DCWitness on Twitter @dcwitness


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