Following his performance as moderator of a veterans affairs' forum featuring Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarville repeats prediction that Trump will drop out of race What's behind Trump's slump? Americans are exhausted, for one thing Trump campaign reserves air time in New Mexico MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE Wednesday night, Matt Lauer broke the same rule Megyn Kelly once did: 

The rule? If you don't kneecap Donald Trump in a big one-on-one event, don't turn the conversation into the journalism version of the gory chariot scene in "Gladiator," then prepare to be shamed before being burned at the stake. 


Kelly didn't have her sword out in her prime-time special and promptly went from a heroine within establishment and even progressive media circles to journalist-non-grata. 

Now Lauer is getting the same treatment, mostly from the liberal end of the industry, and the reviews are scathing: 

The New York Times's Nicholas Kristof even wrote that Lauer is "an embarrassment to journalism." The blaming-the-media game is one Republican candidates know all too well isn't a winning strategy in the general. Primary season, sure, but average voters outside the bubble aren't interested in the sudden theory that Matt Lauer is hopelessly biased against Hillary Clinton and really a secret Trump supporter sent to moderate a national forum to help him continue to close the gap on Clinton (now essentially a dead heat in the RCP average). 

That's what journalism has become these days: Largely controlled by an angry mob that has publicly declared it will drop all pretense of an already-laughable guise of objectivity in the name of taking down a candidate in Trump they viscerally hate and profoundly disagree with. 

The New York Times's media reporter, Jim Rutenberg — to great applause in the usual media circles — wrote this just last month: 

"If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?"


Rutenberg, who is supposed to be an objective journalist himself for the alleged paper of record, never gets around to asking this question of Hillary Clinton: 


"If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Hillary R. Clinton is a congenital liar playing to the nation’s worst class warfare tendencies, that she cozies up to anti-gay, anti-women dictators via foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and that she would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes given her extremely careless handling of classified information, how the heck are you supposed to cover her?"


That's the thing, right? Rutenberg is only presenting his own view in justifying how journalists should cover Trump without considering the other side of the candidate coin. 


"Journalism shouldn’t measure itself against any one campaign’s definition of fairness," Rutenberg concludes. "It is journalism’s job to be true to the readers and viewers, and true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history’s judgment. To do anything less would be untenable."

Jorge Ramos — a Democratic activist who plays a news anchor on TV — wrote in Time magazine recently that "neutrality is not an option" and "Judgement Day is coming" for reporters who don't fall in line against Trump. 

Again, no criticism and nothing but applause from establishment media for having that perspective.  


The examples go on and on but the theme is the same if the headlines everywhere Thursday are any indication: If you're Matt Lauer, and you don't do a perfect job in taking down Trump when getting the chance in the name of what's good for the country, you will be ostracized, kicked to the curb, no longer welcome on the elite Manhattan cocktail circuit and in the Hamptons. 

Lauer failed to ask a follow-up question on Donald Trump's Iraq War stance and is feeling it today like no other time in his career. 

But then again, Lauer didn't bring up the various controversies surrounding the Clinton Foundation once during Wednesday night's forum, either. Funny there's no noise from the outrage machine on that omission.


Either way, if you're Lester Holt — the moderator of the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 — your inbox is likely quite full with advice right now, and likely a few warnings. 


"Try to pull what Matt Lauer did last night," it likely reads, "and we'll shame you to death the same way we did him."