In an opinion piece for the Washington Post this Wednesday, Paul Waldman took ABC News to task over its suspension of veteran reporter David Wright after he was secretly recorded in a sting operation by Project Veritas, the "media watchdog" group headed by conservative activist James O'Keefe. Waldman opened his piece with one question: How are news organizations not wise to this scam?
In the recording, Wright dished on what he felt were flaws in how his network covers President Trump and politics in general in what was essentially a good faith discussion with the undercover operative. Wright then admitted he holds leftist viewpoints -- an admission that right-wing outlets covering the story capitalized on.
"Not only are they [ABC News] suspending Wright, they’re also banning him from political coverage once he returns," writes Waldman. "They might as well put up a billboard atop their headquarters reading, 'C’mon, conservative grifters: Have at us. We’re a bunch of cowards and we’ll crumble under the least bit of pressure.'"
As Waldman points out, the complaints Wright makes in the recording are not unique in the news industry.
'None of what he says should be controversial in the least, though I’m sure his bosses didn’t like it when he said that much of what’s on 'Good Morning America' is just about promoting other products of Disney, ABC’s parent company," Waldman contends. "But what’s important here is that this is a scam conservatives have been running for decades. It’s often referred to as 'working the refs' — you accuse the media of 'bias,' and even if you have no substance to back up your claim, if you do it often and loudly enough, they’ll bend over backward to disprove you, usually by being extraordinarily tough on Democrats (see 'But her emails')."
According to Waldman, O'Keefe is a "con artist" who is the worst of the bunch when it comes to this brand of 'gotcha' journalism.
"Given all that, it is utterly shocking that ABC News would hear that Project Veritas has released a secret recording of one of ABC’s most senior reporters, then suspend him that very day, for comments that shouldn’t be controversial at all," he writes. "Not only is it a monumental act of cowardice, it only encourages con artists such as O’Keefe, showing them that it takes almost nothing for them to make one of the largest news organizations in the country knuckle under."
Read the full piece over at The Washington Post.