ViacomCBS is Meddling in the Presidential Election
While mainstream media organizations continue to worry about foreign meddling in our last election and the next one, we should take a look at how they themselves are meddling.
Without letting any of the media off the hook, the ViacomCBS behemoth deserves special consideration. The threat from its meddling in the upcoming presidential election is a case study of a multi-headed media organization's direct practice of attempting to defeat one candidate and help boost and cover for the other. Anything Russia did in the last election, or any of the last 20 elections, pales in comparison.
These days, the company is known as ViacomCBS. Its corporate structure and ownership have morphed through the years, starting nearly 100 years ago with the formation of CBS. Viacom came along in 1970 as the syndication division of CBS. It soon split off as a separate company and then later merged with CBS in 1995, and in 2006, Viacom and CBS split up. CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. merged again one year ago this week, forming a $28-billion company.
In this current iteration, ViacomCBS includes CBS, CBS News, Showtime, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, BET, CMT, MTV, Nickelodeon, The Movie Channel, and the Smithsonian Channel, to name just a few of its assets — and one more: the book publisher Simon & Schuster. So, what's the problem? This company is making its purpose the defeat of President Donald Trump this November, and it is ruthless and relentless in that pursuit.
In some ways, it's nothing new. Back in 2004, CBS News attempted to defeat George W. Bush's run for re-election against John Kerry. It had a second 60 Minutes program at the time, hosted by Dan Rather, and it manufactured a story full of lies, fake documents, and dishonestly edited interviews to make it appear as though Bush had used political influence to get in the Texas Air National Guard and avoid going to Vietnam. A disgraced Dan Rather ended up having to give up his position as anchor of the CBS Evening News and leaving the network, along with his producers. He sued CBS and Viacom for $70 million, and after several years, the case was thrown out. He tried unsuccessfully to get it reinstated. In 2015, a movie ironically called Truth attempted to rehabilitate Rather and his producer, Mary Mapes. But even with Robert Redford playing Rather, the movie bombed, grossing just $2.5 million in the U.S.
Now a similar situation is taking place. CBS Studios purchased the rights to the memoir, A Higher Loyalty, of disgraced former FBI director James Comey. It produced a series, and Showtime, the cable TV network that mainly carries movies and documentaries, will air it. Comey played a key role in the attempted coup against President Trump and in the exoneration of Hillary Clinton, where clearly the fix was in. The Showtime two-part series is called The Comey Rule.
In late June, the miniseries was finally given an air date, in late November, after the election. But the writer/director, Billy Ray, complained, saying, "We all were hoping to get this story in front of the American people months before the coming election." Comey added, "I don't understand why CBS would sit on a movie about important current events, and I hope the American people get the chance to see it soon." Showtime quickly changed course and scheduled it for September 27 and 28, with the first presidential debate scheduled for September 29.
And casting? Comey will be played by Jeff Daniels, straight off his Broadway role as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He is thought of as this generation's Gary Cooper. Trump will be played by Brendan Gleeson. In this trailer, it could be Alec Baldwin doing his ludicrous caricature of Trump. Daniels said he had wanted the movie to be ready for airing "so he would be part of the national conversation ahead of the election."
Showtime describes the series as "an immersive, behind-the-headlines account of the historically turbulent events surrounding the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath, which divided a nation. It's not a biopic, but is instead the story of two powerful figures, Comey and Trump, whose strikingly different personalities, ethics and loyalties put them on a collision course."
Since the obvious purpose is to lionize Comey and trash Trump, and it's not a "biopic," it will obviously ignore or distort Comey's corrupt and unethical behavior. He participated in the lies to the FISA court to enable the FBI to spy on the Trump campaign. He released classified material in order to get a special counsel appointed to investigate Trump for conspiring and coordinating with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton, when he knew that wasn't true. And when he testified before Congress about the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, he replied, "I don't know," "I can't remember," or "I don't recall" at least 236 times.
There is much more to dislike about Comey. The Epoch Times did an outstanding takedown of him called "Five Explosive Facts about James Comey," including how he and his good friend Robert Mueller engaged in suspect deals worth, in one case, $1 billion. If we still have equal justice under the law, then Comey will be indicted by John Durham, the U.S. attorney looking into the origins of the Russia-collusion hoax, before the Showtime propaganda airs.
Breitbart adds that in 2010, Comey's last year with Lockheed Martin as the company's general counsel, he earned $6.1 million in compensation. Lockheed Martin became a Clinton Global Initiative member and "won 17 approvals for private contracts from the Hillary Clinton State Department."
There are many more examples of how ViacomCBS has partnered with the Democrats to attack President Trump and conservatives in general while going to great lengths to give glowing coverage to Democrats. CBS's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is a vicious nightly hit job on the Trump family and conservatives in general, drained of all humor. Colbert is also an executive producer of Showtime's Our Cartoon President, which is more of the same but allows him to create his own dialogue for the characters. CBS had a show for years, leading up to the 2016 election, called Madam Secretary, meant to humanize Hillary Clinton and help get her elected. It was canceled once the network decided she wasn't likely to run again. And there are many more scripted shows, like The Good Wife, from the same perspective. In contrast, ViacomCBS has no shows that I am aware of meant to put Trump in a good light or even a neutral light.
The president of CBS News throughout the last five years of the Obama administration was David Rhodes, brother of Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser. Those types of relations between Democrat presidents and mainstream news media anchors and executives are common.
And finally, Simon & Schuster, another head of the hydra that is ViacomCBS. This year alone, it has published the John Bolton book attacking Trump; the Mary Trump book attacking Trump; and, still to come, You're Fired: The Perfect Guide to Defeating Donald Trump by Paul Begala. The company does, however, also publish some pro-Trump and other books by conservatives such as Sean Hannity, Jim DeMint, John Solomon, and Horace Cooper (How Trump Is Making Black America Great Again). The difference is that none of these authors will be invited as guests on any of the mainstream media, except for maybe a rare exception.
ViacomCBS's dishonest reporting and agenda-driven productions are distributed and amplified across social media without question, on sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Yet at the same time, content that doesn't fit the left-leaning narrative is consistently censored and flagged by these platforms as "misleading" and "misinformation." ViacomCBS is protected by the First Amendment, as we all are supposed to be, but there should be no misunderstanding of what is happening. The people running that company have a political agenda and multi-billion-dollar platforms from which to promote it, which they do with great enthusiasm.
Roger Aronoff is the executive director and editor of the CCNS. He has produced and directed numerous documentaries and a weekly PBS public affairs show.