Amid the hubbub of L’Affaire Ukrainienne, you could be forgiven for overlooking another story that has emerged out of Congress over the past week. It’s a grubby, unpleasant story—so much so that it feels ugly to draw attention to it. But the times are ugly, after all, and the story is a concerning harbinger of what might be to come in the lead-up to 2020.
The “Fourth Estate" has always played a major role in influencing U.S. policy and opinion, but like other major institutions, it is not beyond reproach. Widely criticized for its complacency in the run up to the Iraq War, the media has also been criticized more recently for being too ready to publish sensitive information. Modern media is anything but monolithic, and competitive pressures and a rapid news cycle have forced many news agencies to exercise even less restraint.