Where credit is due: MSNBC and accountability in the media
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MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle gave a clinic on Friday to her fellow media members — and particularly cable news anchors and hosts — on how and where to properly and professionally make an apology for a mistake.

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Ruhle certainly stepped in it after declaring that Fox News had held its annual Christmas party for its D.C. bureau at President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE’s new luxury hotel near the White House. 

 

“Think about the hotel in Washington now. The [Republican National Committee] is having their Christmas party there. Fox News had their Christmas party there. That doesn’t feel a little hanky?”

The latter implication was clear: The network is in the tank for Trump and kisses his ring so much that the powers that be decided to thank him by celebrating the holidays at one of his hotels. 

Except, of course, for one detail:

Fox hasn’t even held its Christmas party yet, according to a spokesperson at the network when confirming to The Hill. Instead, the network says, it will toast the season at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel in D.C.

Whoops.

OK, so Ruhle made a mistake. We all make them — some big, some small. In the whole scheme of things, while embarrassing, considering how easily and quickly such an allegation could be dismissed, let’s chalk this up in the “small” category.

Most anchors or hosts — Ruhle hosts MSNBC’s 9:00 a.m. hour on weekdays — would have either issued an apology on Twitter in 140 characters or less, or simply hidden behind a faceless network statement saying it shouldn’t have happened and something about regretting the error.

But Ruhle didn’t do that. She also didn’t offer up the old “sorry to anyone who was offended” half-apology that we so often see. Instead, she went back on the air later that day to correct the record, taking full and unambiguous responsibility.

“This is some serious business that I need to share. I need to apologize to the audience,” Ruhle stated during MSNBC’s 2 p.m. news hour.

“Today in a segment, I stated that the Fox network held their holiday party at Trump’s D.C. hotel. I was wrong. We have since learned that neither Fox nor an affiliate held any party,” she continued.

“I stand corrected. I apologize for the error. The mistake was entirely my error. I wish all my friends at Fox a very happy holiday no matter where you have your party,” Ruhle concluded.

That’s one of the more refreshingly candid apologies you’ll ever see. And she did it on the same platform she made the original error: on the air.

We’ve explored many horrific examples of media malfeasance in this space over the past two months. WikiLeaks has proven every fear we’ve ever had about political media: in terms of collusion with a presidential campaign, sharing stories in advance with a campaign, sharing debate questions in advance with a campaign, actively advising a campaign on strategy, and quote approval by a campaign. 

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And the worst part about all of these examples: No one apologized for committing these felonies of the Fourth Estate — not one person, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Instead we saw arrogance, defiance and a dismissive tone that plays right into the reason why the media is loathed by so many. 

Media members like Stephanie Ruhle perhaps give us a little hope that everyone in this business doesn’t feel they’re above it all or isn’t an egomaniac incapable of contrition or taking responsibility. 

Mistakes will happen.

Question is: Will the way Ruhle conducted herself here be the new rule moving forward?

 

Joe Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.


The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.