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Jeffrey Toobin should opine on the law, not journalism

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- To kick off 2018, I have a deal for CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin: I pledge not to start practicing law if Toobin promises to stop talking about what does or does not constitute journalism.

Even though he is a long-time legal analyst and staff writer at The New Yorker, and has written several books, the Harvard-trained attorney has no experience working in daily journalism. So he has no business trying to define it.

As for me, well, after nearly 30 years of writing for newspapers, hosting radio shows, and doing television commentary, I've just about got it figured out.

Instead of doing what he's paid to do - i.e., comment on the law - Toobin spends much of his air time bashing the administration and waving his partisan colors.

During a recent appearance on CNN, Toobin attacked Fox News for providing the White House with "extremely favorable conditions." He was especially critical of the successful morning show "Fox & Friends" -- which routinely outperforms CNN and the rest of its cable competition.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a former CNN contributor who appeared on the network for more than 20 years, and who now appears most often on Fox News.

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Toobin suggested that the popularity of the Fox morning show is all about "access to the president" and that it is "not real journalism."

That's rich coming from someone who works for CNN, which has gone off the rails since Trump was sworn in and whose singular mission now seems to be bringing down the president.

This is a noble objective, if we're talking about the Democratic Party or liberal activists. But it's not the role of journalists, who are supposed to search for truth and not lead the resistance.

It's staggering that -- as a CNN employee -- Toobin would have the audacity to look down on anyone else's version of journalism, since his network has made more than its share of mistakes since Trump entered the political arena.

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