WAS it unkind of The National to end the career of Andrew Sabisky before it had even begun? Don’t think this wasn’t a consideration when our reporter Andrew Learmonth uncovered the vile advice the newly appointed Downing Street adviser once dished out to other men online.

Despite the violent language of “claiming scalps”, and lazy generalisations about sharks and vultures, seismic scoops make up only a tiny proportion of any political reporter’s output.

Most of the job is about building relationships, not destroying reputations, and above all it is about holding those with power and influence to account – a broad principle that most people profess to support.

However, when it comes down to it, most consumers of media are actually rather selective about who they believe should be scrutinised, and who should be given the benefit of the doubt. Whose transgressive behaviour is a matter of public interest and whose privacy should be respected.

The death by suicide of Caroline Flack, the TV presenter who was facing a charge of assaulting her partner, has prompted a wave of criticism of the mainstream media for its treatment of female celebrities and inspired the Twitter hashtag #BeKind, with its implied reprimand of anyone – journalist or not – who might have kicked someone while they were down.

Many have gone a step further by suggesting the Crown Prosecution Service should have been kinder to Flack when considering whether she should face trial, and that ITV should have been kinder when considering whether an outstanding domestic violence charge was compatible with hosting a reality show about relationships.

READ MORE: Andrew Sabisky made vile claims about women and sex on Reddit

One wonders whether those expressing outrage at “unkind” reporting about Flack following her arrest will be similarly dismayed by the lack of kindness shown to Sabisky, a 27-year-old who went overnight from obscurity to notoriety, his name now forever associated with some awful things he wrote when he was 21. He is not a celebrity, and given what has happened he is unlikely to get close to the corridors of power again (although never say never given the horrifying trajectory of the UK). He may well be in a vulnerable state today, despite the defiant tone of his resignation (which he claimed would “disappoint a lot of ppl”), but the public quite clearly has the right to know what kind of unsavoury characters are working for 10 Downing Street.

When Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, the notorious Dominic Cummings, issued a call for “weirdos and misfits” to join his team, it didn’t take a maverick genius to predict that bypassing the usual channels would indeed result in the appointment of some “true wild cards”.

You’d need to have been living under a rock to imagine that misogynistic, racist or even openly fascist views would be a barrier to working for a right-wing government that doesn’t pretend to be otherwise.

However, the departure of Sabisky suggests there is a limit. When reporters asked if Number 10 wished to condemn some of the comments he had reportedly made – including suggesting black people had lower IQs than white people and endorsing compulsory contraception schemes to avoid “creating a permanent underclass” – they were told “the Prime Minister’s views are well publicised and documented”, and indeed they are. Johnson has made numerous racist remarks of his own, and was in government when the Tories introduced the two-child cap for child benefit with it notorious “rape clause” exemption.

You’d be forgiven for thinking these comments were not judged to have crossed the line because there simply was no line when it came to assembling a team reflecting “true cognitive diversity”, but instructing men on how to turn their wives into masturbatory receptacles by rewiring their brains apparently went too far.

READ MORE: Andrew Sabisky's vile Reddit posts about women and sex

Sabisky says the media need to “learn to stop selective quoting”, but perhaps he could first teach me how to rewire my brain to remove the knowledge of his enjoyment of incest erotica. In fact I’d happily forget all about him and focus instead on those who hired him.

Will those pointing the finger at ITV over the level of support they offered a rich and famous star be equally interested in whether the UK Government is now supporting a young civilian contractor who may well be in a vulnerable state today? Bear in mind that Cummings warned potential recruits they would be “immediately binned” if they were judged to be playing office politics, so Sabisky knew what he was getting into.

And how should the glib mantra of “be kind” be applied to media coverage of disgraced former Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, whose reputation is in tatters thanks to his attempts to groom a teenager but who remains, for the time being, an MSP and therefore a public figure.

Unlike Flack he was charged with no crime, and there are those who believe his “trial by media” is therefore an injustice, despite the fact that he effectively pled guilty by immediately resigning.

It should not, of course, take a high-profile death to make people consider whether their commentary about any given individual might be needlessly unpleasant or abusive – we should never lose sight of the fact that even those who commit the worst crimes are human beings.

But serious mistakes made by people in the public eye should be reported, and we cannot turn a blind eye purely because facing the consequences may or may not, in any given case, prove too much to bear.