Try to minimize harm. It’s one of the tenets of the widely cited code of ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists and, among other things, it’s a reminder for journalists that the people they deal with on a daily basis are more than just sources of information. They’re human beings.

While this journalistic safeguard tends to refer to average people—those unaccustomed to the media’s spotlight or those in particularly sensitive situations, such as victims of crimes or minors—the code doesn’t address what to do when an amped-up former aide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign goes on live television to spill his guts.

That’s what happened throughout Monday during a series of truly bizarre news interviews with former Trump stooge Sam Nunberg. Over the course of Trump’s 2016 campaign, the candidate had fired, rehired and then fired Nunberg again, the final straw being a series of racist statements Nunberg had once made on his social media. Trump later sued Nunberg for $10 million for breach of confidentiality; the two settled out of court in August 2016. On Monday, Nunberg announced that he has been subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s leading the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

At what point does a reporter, particularly one on live television, owe it to his or her source to prevent them from making a fool of themselves?

Nunberg’s deeply, deeply weird media blitz kicked off when the former aide told the Washington Post on Monday that he wouldn’t comply with Mueller’s subpoena. Within hours, he was live on MSNBC speaking to Katy Tur, giving a performance that alternated between chest-pounding bluster and emotional vulnerability. (His quip, “It would be funny if they wanted to arrest me” will be remembered no matter how the Russia investigation unfolds.) The entire episode was the exact sort of “Is this guy bullshitting us here, or what?” sideshow you’d expect from a protegé of right-wing media troll Roger Stone, which Nunberg is. It was absolutely riveting television; watching it live felt like watching a man crawl out onto a balcony 20 stories high and threatening to jump.

Almost instantly, viewers, along with Twitter’s reactionary ecosystem, began to speculate that a fractured emotional state might be in play. After all, what could compel someone to go on TV and openly laugh in the face of a revered prosecutor like Mueller? A common refrain: “This man is unwell.” Some, like New York Times culture writer Sopan Deb, simply laughed at the exchange’s ridiculousness. “Quick interlude here: @KatyTurNBC’s ‘Keep going,’ made me laugh really hard,” he tweeted about Tur goading Nunberg.

Complicating matters is that Nunberg’s admission on live TV is legitimately newsworthy. “Trump may have very well done something during the election,” he told Tur. He qualified that he did not know for sure.

Finally, it seemed as if the white Bronco chase of the Russia scandal had arrived. But then it kept going. Bouncing back and forth between CNN and MSNBC, Nunberg took more interviews. On CNN, Nunberg told Jake Tapper that “Carter Page was colluding with the Russians" and that the president knew about Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with Russians, which is at the center of Mueller’s investigation.

It would be an exaggeration to say that there’s too much here for one article, if only because Nunberg’s media tour ended up stretching hours, courting an audience of almost anyone willing to watch or listen.

Things became extra dicey during his evening appearance on Erin Burnett OutFront, once again on CNN. There, on live TV, Burnett told Nunberg she could smell alcohol on his breath, which she brought up because, according to her, people within the White House were blaming Nunberg’s erratic behavior on his alleged drug and alcohol use. Nunberg denied that he had been drinking—he was in fact taking an antidepressant, he said—but his behavior was so off-the-wall, it was hard not to believe otherwise. This is all assuming, of course, that his public performance wasn’t just a deliberate stunt concocted by Nunberg and Stone to sew more chaos into the media cycle.

Even so, Nunberg’s appeareance on Erin Burnett OutFront raised a red flag, summed up by media analyst Brian Stelter who asked, “If your source seems drunk or drugged or just plain out of his mind, what is your responsibility?” Dozens of media types chimed in elsewhere, questioning whether or not it is ethical to provide a man exhibiting Nunberg’s behavior so much figurative rope. Brookings Fellow Susan Hennessey tweeted, "There’s nothing wrong with having empathy for others, but demonstrating really bad judgment and being not particularly smart is not the same thing as having a mental illness. You can feel sorry for people like Nunberg and Page without believing they are victims of anything.”

Oliver Willis, a senior writer at Shareblue Media, offered, “What news value is there now in having a drunk or drugged person on air on national TV like this? None.” And Axios, sounding like other right-leaning outlets and reporters, found the entire imbroglio a good jumping off point for criticizing the media, tweeting, “This is one of the reasons America hates the media. Our entire industry lit itself on fire because a troubled Trump hanger-on made an ass of himself—live.” Of course, when they refer to America hating the media, they’re talking those who hate the media for being typically critical of Trump. By the way, Axios, caused the events of the day, having first published the subpoena, which was given to the news site by Nunberg himself.

For his part, Nunberg has found everything to be above board, telling the Daily Caller on Tuesday that he thought the media had treated him fairly. Regardless of his intentions—again, the entire day may have been orchestrated in bad faith—there’s a fair question here: At what point does a reporter, particularly one on live television, owe it to his or her source to prevent them from making a fool of themselves—or worse, from making him or herself the fool? As with most ethical quandaries, the exact line will never be crystal clear; it probably depends on your own personal sympathy for the party involved.

Even so, there’s another journalistic guideline that supersedes the one about protecting sources like Nunberg——a media savvy lawyer who played an early role in getting Donald Trump elected. It’s called “Show, don’t tell.” Collectively, we’re growing numb to the exponentially strange and erratic behavior of a seemingly unhinged president. Telling viewers (and readers) about the quality of the people he has long surrounded himself with on his ascent to power is one thing, but letting them see it for themselves? It would be irresponsible journalism to do otherwise.