There are few things Democrats and Republicans agree on in this bipartisan climate, but one of them is that Chris Cillizza is the absolute worst. He is to journalism what Nickelback is to rock and roll, or Michael Bay is to film - and at least they didn't write tons of articles in 2016 going "But her emails!"
Cillizza, whom CNN pays more than any teacher in America, writes a column called "The Point" that analyzes politics as though it's a game, with no interest in the stakes people have in the outcome. He describes it as "a multiplatform brand that helps you cut through the crap" -- a truly inspiring way to describe his mission to render politics completely meaningless. "The Point" and Cillizza are so widely despised that he's inadvertently popularized the term "ratio," a Twitter rule whereby if a tweet's replies outnumber its likes or retweets, it means people hate your tweet. For example, here's one of Cillizza's tweet from last fall, linking to an article he wrote:
Last night, Cillizza published one of his worst takes yet, with an article called "Donald Trump is Producing the Greatest Reality Show Ever. In it, he argues that yesterday's chaotic events - the resignation of Gary Cohn, the drama surrounding Jared and Ivanka, John Kelly becoming the "villain" in this story - all portrayed Trump as the PT Barnum of reality TV. "The truth is that even Mark Burnett couldn't create such a high-profile reality show with this much drama, this many personalities and this high of stakes," he wrote. "This is a project only Donald Trump could make happen."
To be fair, the comparison of the Trump administration to reality TV isn't a bad one, and a good writer could probably come up with a good essay about how the ethics of that genre shape both the administration and its supporters. But Cillizza's article is not only dishonest, it's cowardly because he refuses to editorialize. Because he analyzes everything in terms of winning and losing, he thinks it puts him above the fray, but it really signals to those who are hurt or threatened by Trump's actions that their fears are secondary to the ongoing drama within the administration that led people like CBS's Les Moonves to say that Trump "may not be good for America, but [he's] damn good for CBS."
Needless to say, it didn't work this time, as former CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien chimed in:
Cillizza responded with typical enthusiasm, which he often does whenever another high-profile journalist calls him out:
But O'Brien didn't retreat. She dug her heels in and gave him the lashing he deserved.
To re-emphasize the rules of the ratio, O'Brien's first and last tweets excoriating Cillizza got more than 25,000 likes and retweets, far outnumbering the replies, which were in the low thousands.
The Trump Administration has made demands on all journalists to speak the truth more loudly than ever before, since analyzing everything as a game is partly what got us into this mess in the first place. People like Chris Cillizza degrade our profession with their refusal to take a stand or tell these harsh truths. The daily attacks he receives from other journalists may not make him understand this, but they remind others that when we sacrifice truth for clickbait, we do a disservice not just to ourselves, but to our readers.
Also, we will have to contend with Wikipedia trolls, like this one from last night: