“…to live with integrity, it is sometimes necessary to take that difficult step – to get involved – to fight openly for what one believes to be true and right and good, even when there is risk to oneself.” – Stephen Carter, Integrity
Republican Representatives Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse unquestionably meet that standard.
This is day 2 of former President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. After 4 years, thousands of lies, bigotry, and toxicity, the Coronavirus is the perfect metaphor for how Trump has diseased American democracy and the cultural landscape.
Despite images of Trump amping-up supporters with seditious rhetoric; despite shocking assaults against the Capitol by hundreds of armed followers; despite the deaths of five people, the majority of Senate Republicans are likely to ignore the words of hate and horrific actions and, rather than vote their conscience, will instead vote for loyalty to the deadliest political virus the nation has ever seen and the base that provides the oxygen that allows it to grow.
The country now needs a vaccination for civility, responsibility, and the integrity to do the right thing despite the personal consequences. Unlike the Covid vaccine, however, the CRI vaccine is going to take multiple doses over a longer period.
However, when this second impeachment trial ends, it’s time to banish this man from the national attention span. While some media outlets will certainly continue to build on Trump’s lies, credible journalists need to seriously consider the ethics of their trade.
Credibility: “The powers of the press should be treated as a public trust,” ethicist Michael Josephson writes. As such, more coverage of the former president not only feeds his ego, but reinforces his beliefs in the minds of supporters. Focus on other issues.
Responsibility: “The powers of the press should be used responsibly to advance public interest without causing unjustified harm.”
“As a teacher,” Josephson adds, “journalism should inform, clarify, and explain about a matter of social consequence. As a public conscience, it should remind citizens of their ideals and values and the way events bear on them.”
Caring: “Journalists should demonstrate concern for the well-being of others… mindful of the power of the press to help or harm…”
Fairness: “As a watchdog, the press should be fair, vigilant and aggressive in holding people in power accountable.” There are plenty of other groups and individuals to confront or lift-up.
Integrity: “Journalists should be principled… and avoid self-righteousness.” There are plenty of stories of integrity and achievement that are deserving of attention. Report about them.
Respect: Respect your audience by being fair, caring, responsible, and credible in all stories you choose to report.
Journalism has always had a storied past with deep connections to this country.
It has taught us how precious it is to live in a democracy by reporting on other countries that do not enjoy the same freedoms we have.
It has uncovered waste, fraud, and corruption serving to hold those responsible accountable.
It has challenged us with opinions and facts which help us live up to the values that bind us together.
Journalism, honest and committed, without fear or favor, has served us well. Now it needs to serve us with moderation.
It’s now time to move on.