Here's five words of advice for Sept. 26 presidential debate moderator Lester Holt: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Because the mob mentality of many in the media — traditional, partisan, social and otherwise — is more apparent than ever in an election where seemingly almost everyone in the industry has collectively lost their minds.
The loss of sanity was on display after the Sept. 7 "Commander-in-Chief Forum," where Matt Lauer had the audacity to not literally kneecap Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE on behalf of a media that would only settle for an evisceration of the Republican nominee on the questioning front.
And in the process, of course, all while avoiding any questions — such as those around emails and the extremely careless handling of classified information — deemed uncomfortable to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE.
Clinton got tougher questions, but also got visibly irritated and defensive. Trump got mostly softballs. But he rode over them.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) September 8, 2016
Lauer follows up by completely ignoring Trump lying about opposing the Iraq war from the beginning— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 8, 2016
Seriously -- everyone, and I mean everyone, knew this would happen. And Matt Lauer didn't have a followup planned? https://t.co/mm5ufZKjEx— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) September 8, 2016
That pathetic Matt Lauer interview made me think, for the first time, Trump could win https://t.co/P3Xv8QbkpH— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) September 8, 2016
Pretty rough stuff.
The headlines were even worse. Lauer was downright shamed, bullied the day after for not doing what was thought to be his job: Take out Trump for the good of the country.
Because as Jorge Ramos said to thunderous applause in a recent Time magazine editorial, "Judgement Day is coming" for those who don't devote their journalism careers to targeting the Republican nominee while also declaring "neutrality is not an option."
Ramos's daughter — formerly of the Obama administration and currently on Clinton's campaign staff — should be proud. The fury died down after Clinton's near-collapse while leaving 9/11 memorial owned the narrative for a few days (which was also seen as unfair — even laughably being characterized as sexist — to the Democratic nominee).
But then Trump went on Jimmy Fallon's program on Wednesday for a standard sit-down with the top-rated "Tonight Show" host. Before we continue, an interesting note about Fallon: He's obviously embraced the Johnny Carson rule of being apolitical and putting a priority on entertainment.
After all, why alienate half your audience with an unneeded reputation of being another partisan with a focus on politics, the last thing a late-night audience wants to be inundated with? (See: Colbert, Stephen.)
The numbers appear to back up this perspective. Per a robust Hollywood Reporter survey earlier this year, only 17 percent of those who identified as Republican tune in to Colbert, all while the CBS host attracts 47 percent of those who identify as Democrats. That's a 30 point gap.
In the case of Jimmy Fallon, the split is a far less polarizing 36 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republicans. So when Trump joined Fallon and did the same kind of benign, playful interview he's done in the numerous times with him before, Twitter nearly engulfed itself in anger.
And when it ended with Trump allowing Fallon to mess up his hair in a clip that went viral the following day, further mainstreaming the Republican nominee in the process, the media masses were as apocalyptic as they were with Lauer.
Variety: Jimmy Fallon’s Donald Trump Interview Draws 2,324% Increase in Twitter Hate for ‘Tonight Show’
CBS News: Viewers express outrage over Fallon’s Trump interview
Huffington Post: People Are Justifiably Infuriated With How Jimmy Fallon Handled Trump
New York Magazine: Fallon's Trump Interview Was the Opposite of Inoffensive
The Guardian: No, Jimmy Fallon, Donald Trump isn't a laughing matter
Washington Post lede: "Donald Trump is closer than ever to becoming president, with poll numbers tightening and Trump even leading in some cases. And so Jimmy Fallon knew this might be his last chance ... to mess up The Donald's hair."
In other words, "What the hell is Fallon doing? Shouldn't he, you know, completely change the apolitical approach that has helped lead him to oftentimes double his competition on the ratings front? Why didn't he hammer Trump? Is he in the tank like Lauer?
Funny how those questions are never raised when Hillary Clinton joins the same program the next night, which is exactly what she did one night later in receiving the same exact friendly treatment Trump did. Seriously, almost everybody has lost their minds.
It really humanized Hitler when Jimmy Fallon mussed up his mustache.— Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff) September 16, 2016
That's not to say, of course, Trump doesn't warrant tough questions given his outrageous statements, flip-flops and invalid truths. Of course he does when on a political media program or forum.
But that doesn't mean Clinton — a candidate with the lowest honesty and trustworthy numbers of any candidate in history — doesn't deserve the same scrutiny. Moderating is an extremely difficult task.
It's impossible to be perfect. But if you're Lester Holt, stay away from your inbox, don't answer the phone. Be afraid, be very afraid, of the pious, pretentious, bullying media that now engulfs our industry.
Holt is a fine journalist. He righted the ship after Brian Williams departed in very public, very unfavorable fashion and even the most partisan of observers on both sides can't call him polarizing.
Here's hoping he ignores what so unfairly happened to his NBC brethren. Either way, unless Holt throws a pie in Trump's face in front of 100 million people watching next week, know this: He'll be as bullied and shamed as Matt Lauer and Jimmy Fallon were.
Make it official: This election has either made everybody insane — or it simply has exposed who they really were all along.