MATTHEWS: Media eruptions over criticisms of reporters do not bode well for the future of journalism

Tucker Carlson, host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight," poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio on March 2, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Last week, Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson did a segment on how powerful people like Meghan Markle were declaring themselves powerless, and how it didn’t make any sense.

During his commentary, he also took issue with New York Times internet culture reporter Taylor Lorenz, whose job it is to basically name and shame people on social media, for using International Women’s Day to portray herself as a victim of an online “harassment and smear campaign,” which she said “destroyed her life.”

Considering her powerful position at the paper at a time when so many are out of work, Carlson found it odd that she would rant about receiving mean tweets and emails and said so.

Judging by the reactions of other journalists, you’d have thought Carlson had just kicked a puppy.

Washington Post media reporter Jeremy Barr framed Carlson’s comments by alleging he was saying her “full name” on-air many times for a reason (with the insinuation being that Carlson wanted her to be harassed).

“Notice how many times Tucker Carlson says Taylor’s full name on his very highly watched television show,” Barr tweeted the night the segment aired. “That’s not a coincidence.”

AP political reporter Steve Peoples was also outraged. “This is dangerous and disgusting. Someone asks for help after suffering online harassment, and this man mocks her in prime time — using her full name five separate times — in an obvious attempt to encourage more harassment. We are better than this,” he tweeted.

The whole outcry was surreal. At times I felt like I was in an alternate universe where media criticism using someone’s name and photo is not allowed.

There were many more comments along these lines from other reporters, many of whom have a prior history of monitoring and criticizing Carlson.

The complaint that he was using her “full name” on the air was bizarre. Lorenz goes by the name “Taylor Lorenz” on her social media accounts as well as her New York Times profile page.

Lorenz herself even got in on the action, claiming the photo Carlson used of her was an old photo that wasn’t on her Instagram and that he “photoshopped” her avatar “into something it isn’t.”

The problem with Lorenz’s comments is that the photo Carlson used of Lorenz is also on her New York Times profile page. If she — and the others in the media — truly have an issue with someone using her name and photo in a story, they might want to take it up with her employer.

The whole outcry was surreal. At times I felt like I was in an alternate universe where media criticism using someone’s name and photo is not allowed.

Are journalists really becoming so sensitive that it’s now supposed to be off-limits to criticize one of them lest they start receiving mean tweets and emails?

Does Lorenz deserve threats of violence for what she reports? Of course, she doesn’t. I’ve been subjected to some vile comments myself over the years, including rape and death threats, and doxing, too, and it escalated tenfold once I started using my real name online.

For better or worse, such things come with the territory. Doesn’t make it right, but it’s worth stating for the record all the same.

If we’re to avoid criticizing reporters over the possibility that they might be subjected to online harassment, then that would mean all criticism must stop — including that of Tucker Carlson, who was targeted last year, ironically by the New York Times, in a planned exposé that would have referenced where he and his family lived. Carlson shut it down before it could be published by using his show as a platform with which to call them out.

Interestingly enough, the same reporters who rushed to defend Lorenz from Carlson last week were nowhere to be found when the New York Times was threatening to reveal Carlson’s home address last year. So odd, that.

Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.