Standards (or the lack thereof)

U.S. Rep. Katie Porter election watch party 2022
Rep. Katie Porter D-Irvine, arrives at an election night watch party in Costa Mesa and awaits her turn to speak on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. (Mindy Schauer/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Standards (or the lack thereof)

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) sounds as nasty and unpleasant as any lawmaker on Capitol Hill.

From reportedly being racist against blacks to fostering a hostile work environment, Porter, a frequent guest on essentially every major political news program not aired by Fox News, apparently oversees the type of dysfunctional and abusive workplace you read about in the papers whenever they cover dysfunctional and abusive workplaces.

Except you didn’t hear this first from the corporate press. In fact, what the public has heard about the congresswoman’s office, it heard first from an anonymous Instagram account, Dear White Staffers. The small army of reporters who roam the Capitol demanding Republicans respond to former President Donald Trump’s social media tirades haven’t exactly bothered to investigate the relatively powerful congresswoman’s allegedly problematic behavior.

Matthew Foldi writes for the U.S. edition of the Spectator that the California congresswoman has recently been accused of: firing an employee who allegedly gave her COVID-19, using racist language, and fostering a hostile workplace.

“Rep. Katie Porter fires staffer after both test positive for COVID,” Dear White Staffers posted last week, sharing Signal messages purporting to be from Porter’s now-former staffer in which the congresswoman berated her employee. “Well you gave me Covid,” Porter’s messages read. “It took you not following the rules to get me sick.” Porter’s office subsequently confirmed that the staffer was punished but argued that she was simply banned from ever returning to in-person work and was not immediately terminated.

Porter’s staffer, the office’s Wounded Warrior fellow named Sasha Georgiades, told Porter that she forgot to follow COVID protocols because one of her friends had just been murdered. This apparently did not matter to the congresswoman. The eye-popping account of Porter rebuking Georgiades was just the first of her problems. Dear White Staffers has issued follow-up post after follow-up post, in which former Porter staff tear into the liberal icon.

Dear White Staffers followed up on its scoop by posting a message from another purported Porter staffer, who claimed that Porter says “rude/racist things (anti-black esp)”; outside of conservative media, this claim isn’t even reported. In another follow-up post, the account posted a message from someone claiming to be a former Porter staffer who “can confirm what prior staffers said.”

“I can also personally confirm that sexual harassment is not taken seriously and is swept under the rug,” the anonymous poster further claimed. In a different post, Dear White Staffers shared a message from someone who claims to be a former Katie Porter staffer who wrote that “this is just the tip of the iceberg in how abhorrently and abusively she treats staff … she’s prone to fits of rage, regularly disparages anyone who even slightly disagrees with her or displeases her, and is incredibly arrogant, mean spirited, and petty.”

Why was a random Instagram account first to report these allegations? Why didn’t we hear about it first from D.C.-based news publications, including Politico, the Washington Post, and Roll Call? Good question!

Former Playboy correspondent Alex Thomas defended the legacy press’ inaction with the laughable “this isn’t news” defense.

“The Katie Porter stuff is not new,” he said. “Dem staffers have been talking about [this] for at least two years.”

Oh, is that right? Maybe share with the rest of class next time. The taxpayers who subsidize Congress have a right to know whether one of its members is an abusive psychopath. Porter’s constituents certainly have a right to know. Really, though, what sort of defense is, “It’s old news, so we never reported it”? By Thomas’s own admission, the allegations are not pure fabrications, invented from thin air by random social media users. Actual Democratic staffers have been saying this stuff “for at least two years.” And he still believes the story isn’t worth investigating? When did “if you know, you know” become a guiding principle in editorial judgment?

Political reporters cleverer than Thomas have opted for a different defense, falling back on the “we didn’t report it because we can’t verify it” line. One problem here is: This defense went out the window with the Trump era, when any whisper, no matter how flimsy, was deemed worthy of coverage. Political reporters are certainly welcome to hide behind the verification defense, but they’d be fooling no one, considering we all saw what they deemed solid enough to report during the Trump administration.

Further, it’s worth noting the Dear White Staffers account is a known entity to the D.C. press. Politico has published multiple stories on the account, including a profile of its author! Reporters can’t simply say, “We don’t know this account, and we therefore won’t pay attention to it.” Lastly, at least some of the Porter allegations reported first by Dear White Staffers are based in fact, as evidenced by the defensive responses from the congresswoman’s office. There is something there. We know at least that much thanks to an anonymous Instagram account, and no thanks to Capitol reporters.

So, the question is still: Why was an Instagram account the first to report these allegations against Porter, complete with screengrabs allegedly sent by verified congressional staffers? Why didn’t we hear about this stuff from accredited media on the Hill?

It’s a mystery!

Standards

One-time Republican congressman and full-time emotional person Adam Kinzinger has joined CNN as a “senior political commentator.”

It’s unclear for whom this is more embarrassing, CNN or Kinzinger.

On the one hand, CNN has hired as a “senior political commentator” an ex-congressional backbencher with little to no legislative accomplishments under his belt and whose district Illinois Democrats gerrymandered into oblivion. Sure, Kinzinger spent 12 years in Congress, but let’s not fool ourselves. Everyone knows why CNN hired him, even as it continues to lay off actual journalists. CNN hired Kinzinger because he’s a flamethrower, a loudmouth with a lot of bark. CNN didn’t hire him for any keen insight, as he has yet to demonstrate he has any. The network hired him because he gets eyeballs and clicks (for now).

Remember, cable news is in the entertainment business. Keeping viewers entertained is the name of the game. So, it makes sense CNN would hire a flashy self-promoter right out of Congress rather than allocate his salary to, say, someone who actually covers Congress for a living.

Then, there’s Kinzinger himself. He has spent the past two years auditioning for a job on cable news. Shamelessly. Since at least 2020, he has focused his time almost exclusively on cable news appearances and Twitter fights. His self-promotion has served him well, as it has allowed him to escape the obscurity he languished in for nearly all of the 12 years he served in Congress. But to use his final years as a member of the most powerful deliberative body in the world to audition for a spot on cable news? Good Lord, man. Have some self-respect. Aim higher. At least secure a high-paying lobbying gig, like any self-respecting outgoing congressman would.

CNN?

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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