Leigh Ann Caldwell is the Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News. I do not think she should lose her job for what she did. But I do think NBC News should discipline her for behaving like a gossip columnist instead of a real reporter.
Yesterday, Caldwell rather salaciously tweeted that Anthony Kennedy had been negotiating for a few months with Donald Trump about his retirement and basically demanded Brett Kavanaugh in exchange for his retirement. She went on to tweet "the decision has been baked for a while." But, in a third tweet, Caldwell then declared "To be clear: This is from one source and dont have any info on whether potus talked to kennedy about a possible replacement."
So, in other words, Caldwell is passing on single source gossip. But to think that, as a reporter, she thought it plausible enough to be credible enough to pass on to the general public.
Being a reporter should mean something beyond passing on single sourced gossip most likely from a Democrat, particularly when so many single sources in Washington these days seem to exist to put the President in the worst possible light. Dozens and dozens of reporters from CNN to the New York Times to NBC have been burned in the past year by single sources pushing Resistance Fan Fiction. More over, with the country teetering on the brink of violence because of political differences, reporters owe their profession and the public a heightened sense of measure and responsibility.
It was completely irresponsible for a reporter to smear Anthony Kennedy in that way with a story that anyone with more than a basic understanding of the Supreme Court and Kennedy would know had to be horse manure.
Caldwell should be disciplined. What makes the situation even more infuriating is that NBC will probably, yet again, turn a blind eye to their reporters behaving so unprofessionally. But Caldwell now casts her other reporting as suspect and undermines the credibility of so many very good and professional journalists at NBC who would have never done what she did.
Mistakes happen to be sure. But tweeting out single sourced salacious gossip like this goes beyond a mistake.