CNN had a rough week. Three of their journalists resigned last week over a story about a Trump associate and his ties to Russia. The news network retracted and apologized. Conservatives are using this as proof that the mainstream media engages in fake news, especially when it comes to covering Donald Trump.
When someone gives a lecture, scolds the media, and focuses on “biased” journalism, I kinda like it if that person has an understanding of how journalism actually works. For example, I haven’t seen one complaint about the CNN story where the conservative complaining explained exactly what CNN did wrong.
So what did Cable News Network get wrong in their coverage? They reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee was investigating Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Streeter and a member of Trump’s transition team for a meeting he had with the chief executive of the Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). What CNN got wrong was that they reported RDIF was a part of Russian state bank Vnesheconombank, which it is not. That’s very important because Vnesheconombank is under sanction by the U.S. government. RDIF is “subject” to sanctions from the U.S. Treasury Department. Fine details, but important nonetheless.
Update and correction: What CNN got incorrect, and I repeated was the part about Scaramucci being under investigation. He is NOT under investigation. A representative for Mr. Scaramucci, Arthur Schwartz, contacted me today and asked me to correct it. Schwartz informed me that Scaramucci did speak with the executive of the RDIF “briefly in public at an international finance conference with reporters everywhere.” My apologies to Mr. Scaramucci. He and Mr. Schwartz were very gracious and understanding.
CNN had to eat a lot of crap over the story (and I just ate a little) and apologized to Scaramucci. The Trump team has used it as their proof that CNN is fake news. What they don’t understand is that CNN made a mistake and owned it.
Do you recall the Seth Rich story? Fox News published an article linking his death to sharing emails with Wikileaks. As it turns out, there was no evidence of that. Fox News retracted and apologized. Nobody was forced to resign. Sean Hannity was the network’s biggest proponent of the conspiracy theory, yet he never retracted or apologized. He refused to admit it’s “fake news” and simply said he wouldn’t talk about it anymore. He wasn’t sanctioned, punished, or forced to resign. He got Bill O’Reilly’s time slot.
Every single news outlet is going to make mistakes. Sometimes huge ones. What needs to be watched is how they handle it. Do they admit it and issue a retraction, or do they leave it on their site for days with an itty bitty editor’s note, or do they sweep it under the rug?
Over the past week, the same right-wing nut jobs who faked a bunch of sabotage videos of Planned Parenthood did the same thing with CNN. They got a CNN producer who works on health segments to say the Russia thing was fake. They got Van Jones on camera saying it was a “nothing burger,” a term that has seriously “jumped the shark.” Another producer for their morning show New Day, is on camera saying voters are idiots and the Russian narrative is “bullshit.”
This is where the critics don’t understand journalism. When you interview someone the subject should be aware that he’s being interviewed. The interviewer is supposed to inform the subject who he represents and what he’s covering. Another biggee, Somewhere in the video the guy asking the questions should be identified. That’d be like me drawing cartoons without signing my name. Also, you shouldn’t deceptively edit the video so it delivers propaganda.
So these people who really hate biased journalism use biased “journalism” to attack the legitimate press. It’s amazing that people can engage in hypocrisy with straight faces. That brings us to Donald Trump and his sycophants.
After scolding the press during a White House briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the press they should watch the sabotage videos and said, “whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know.” Seriously. She did that right after scolding the press for not using facts.
Trump is the biggest complainer of journalism doing its job. While he loves to cite fake statistics and just makes up shit, he blasts CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. He tweets sexists insults and engages in feuds with morning show hosts. He posted a video today of him giving CNN a “clothesline.” The clip is from his days with World Wrestling Entertainment (a fake sport). Talk about inciting violence.
Trump hates the press who actually investigates, but he loves the fake media. He retweets articles from InfoWars (who are afraid of gay frogs), and Breitbart (the bastion of racism and white nationalism and where nobody ever gets fired for printing lies). He made the chief of Breitbart his number one political Nazi strategist. Trump has spoken of and tweeted bogus stories from the National Enquirer such as, there are women out there who want to sleep with Ted Cruz. In fact, Trump is buddies with the publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker. Seriously, His name is David Pecker. Trump thinks Mr. Pecker should have won the Pulitzer for his fine investigative journalism, and be leading Time Magazine. Perhaps if Pecker was the publisher of Time then they’d create actual covers praising Trump, like the fake covers he hangs in his golf resorts.
Let me finish with a note on the coverage of the White House: Trump doesn’t have to like his coverage. No president does (you know, like saying he wasn’t born in the United States…ahem!). He’s entitled to say it’s unfair. But what is unfair? The reporting has been fair. There is an investigation on Trump’s ties to Russia. In fact, there are a lot of investigations in Trump and Russia. You can’t claim there’s no evidence when all your guys are stonewalling and they keep meeting with Russian spies, then forgetting the meetings ever happened.
Is the commentary fair? No. Commentary is never fair. Neither are political cartoons. When you watch your news shows at night, whether it’s Fox, CNN, or MSNBC, none of it’s fair. CNN has best rounded collection of talking heads, with Trump lovers and haters. If a talking head hates everything about Trump, he or she isn’t being entirely fair, and neither are the Trump lovers. If you excuse everything Trump does or make excuses for it, that’s not fair coverage. You suck and you’re nothing but a sycophant.
Sycophants have no place complaining about fake news.
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