CNN poobah Jeff Zucker bangs his spoon on his high chair

CNN chief Jeff Zucker has criticized President Trump's attacks on the press, calling them "unconscionable and dangerous."  There are two possible ways to describe Zucker's remarks a day after a congressman was shot: either they are an example of incredible chutzpah or they are so inappropriate that they border on the pathological.  Zucker claims, "[T]he level of threats faced by his journalists is more serious than people realize."  He gives as an example recently elected Montana congressman Greg Gianforte "body-slamming" a newspaper reporter.  ABC News explained that the reporter simply asked the candidate a question and was attacked in response.

Zucker explained, "[T]his is what happens when you try to delegitimize an institution that is trying to do its job."  He complained, "[I]t is shameful on the part of the administration and other politicians to cause a frenzy against something that is guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States."  In Zucker's view, the media are simply doing their job, and this is protected by the Constitution.  However, the media's critics are complaining that the media are not doing their job.  They are propagandizing.

CNN's right to propagandize is protected by the Constitution.  The people's right to criticize fraudulent news is also protected by the Constitution.  Has criticism of the media created a dangerous climate for journalists?  Or have the establishment media's constant attacks on the Trump administration created a dangerous climate for his supporters?

The fact that establishment media are the source of "fake news" is long known and well established.  The New York Times still has a portrait of Pulitzer Prize winner Walter Duranty on its wall.  Duranty is famous for successfully concealing the Soviet communists' murder of 6 million Ukrainians from the American public.  Numerous "journalists" have been exposed as liars.  These include Pulitzer Prize winner Janet Cooke, Jayson Blair, Brian Williams, and Dan Rather.

Perhaps the most damning evidence of media distortions was provided by one of Jeff Zucker's predecessors.  In 2003, CNN head Eason Jordan admitted in his New York Times op-ed, "The News We Kept to Ourselves," that CNN distorts the news.  Jordan explained that this was done in order to maintain access to sources.  Without access, a news organization cannot function.  But what price is it willing to pay?  This may be behind CNN's Jim Acosta complaint about his seating arrangement during Trump's joint press conference with Romania's president.  He described it as being "in the equivalent of Siberia."  CNN is accustomed to the front row.

Zucker's remarks are part of an effort to blame Republicans for the recent assassination attempt on Republican congressmen.  Former vice president Joe Biden added to this at a Californian fundraiser, stating, "This past election cycle churned up some of the ugliest, ugliest realities that persist in our country. Civilized discourse and real debate gave way to the coarsest rhetoric, stoking some of the darkest emotions in this nation."  Former executive editor of the New York Times Jill Abramson claimed that "both President Trump and the congressional leadership on the Republican side are extremely divisive and that they are really benefiting from a kind of rage machine that operates in this country."

The Times attempted to buttress this argument by referring to the shooting U.S. rep. Gabby Giffords and attributing this to actions of the Sarah Palin campaign.  The Times followed this with a retraction.  Its editorial stated, "An editorial on Thursday about the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established."  The media are pursuing this argument even though it is obvious that the major portion of hostile rhetoric originates on the left.

Some of these attacks are obviously over the line.  David Simon, the creator of The Wire, a television show, wrote, "If Donald Trump fires Robert Mueller and is allowed to do so, pick up a [g------] brick. That's all that's left to you."  Professor John Griffin from the Art Institute of Washington wrote on Facebook that Republicans "should be lined up and shot" for their votes and "Republicans are a [f------] joke and their voting block [sic] runs the gamit [sic] from monstrous to ignorant."  Shalom Auslander wrote in  the Washington Post, "Don't compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.  It belittles Hitler."  President Obama can remark, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," and this is considered totally benign.

On June 16, two days after the shooting in Washington, D.C., possible 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren stated, "Donald, you ain't seen nasty yet."  She stated this after CNN's Kathy Griffin's photo of a depiction of his severed head.  Reza Aslan referred to Trump as a "piece of [s---]," his assassination was simulated in a Shakespeare in the Park performance, and then there was the assassination attempt on a number of congressmen.  How much more nasty can things get?

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy, Algora Publishing, 2013.

CNN chief Jeff Zucker has criticized President Trump's attacks on the press, calling them "unconscionable and dangerous."  There are two possible ways to describe Zucker's remarks a day after a congressman was shot: either they are an example of incredible chutzpah or they are so inappropriate that they border on the pathological.  Zucker claims, "[T]he level of threats faced by his journalists is more serious than people realize."  He gives as an example recently elected Montana congressman Greg Gianforte "body-slamming" a newspaper reporter.  ABC News explained that the reporter simply asked the candidate a question and was attacked in response.

Zucker explained, "[T]his is what happens when you try to delegitimize an institution that is trying to do its job."  He complained, "[I]t is shameful on the part of the administration and other politicians to cause a frenzy against something that is guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States."  In Zucker's view, the media are simply doing their job, and this is protected by the Constitution.  However, the media's critics are complaining that the media are not doing their job.  They are propagandizing.

CNN's right to propagandize is protected by the Constitution.  The people's right to criticize fraudulent news is also protected by the Constitution.  Has criticism of the media created a dangerous climate for journalists?  Or have the establishment media's constant attacks on the Trump administration created a dangerous climate for his supporters?

The fact that establishment media are the source of "fake news" is long known and well established.  The New York Times still has a portrait of Pulitzer Prize winner Walter Duranty on its wall.  Duranty is famous for successfully concealing the Soviet communists' murder of 6 million Ukrainians from the American public.  Numerous "journalists" have been exposed as liars.  These include Pulitzer Prize winner Janet Cooke, Jayson Blair, Brian Williams, and Dan Rather.

Perhaps the most damning evidence of media distortions was provided by one of Jeff Zucker's predecessors.  In 2003, CNN head Eason Jordan admitted in his New York Times op-ed, "The News We Kept to Ourselves," that CNN distorts the news.  Jordan explained that this was done in order to maintain access to sources.  Without access, a news organization cannot function.  But what price is it willing to pay?  This may be behind CNN's Jim Acosta complaint about his seating arrangement during Trump's joint press conference with Romania's president.  He described it as being "in the equivalent of Siberia."  CNN is accustomed to the front row.

Zucker's remarks are part of an effort to blame Republicans for the recent assassination attempt on Republican congressmen.  Former vice president Joe Biden added to this at a Californian fundraiser, stating, "This past election cycle churned up some of the ugliest, ugliest realities that persist in our country. Civilized discourse and real debate gave way to the coarsest rhetoric, stoking some of the darkest emotions in this nation."  Former executive editor of the New York Times Jill Abramson claimed that "both President Trump and the congressional leadership on the Republican side are extremely divisive and that they are really benefiting from a kind of rage machine that operates in this country."

The Times attempted to buttress this argument by referring to the shooting U.S. rep. Gabby Giffords and attributing this to actions of the Sarah Palin campaign.  The Times followed this with a retraction.  Its editorial stated, "An editorial on Thursday about the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established."  The media are pursuing this argument even though it is obvious that the major portion of hostile rhetoric originates on the left.

Some of these attacks are obviously over the line.  David Simon, the creator of The Wire, a television show, wrote, "If Donald Trump fires Robert Mueller and is allowed to do so, pick up a [g------] brick. That's all that's left to you."  Professor John Griffin from the Art Institute of Washington wrote on Facebook that Republicans "should be lined up and shot" for their votes and "Republicans are a [f------] joke and their voting block [sic] runs the gamit [sic] from monstrous to ignorant."  Shalom Auslander wrote in  the Washington Post, "Don't compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.  It belittles Hitler."  President Obama can remark, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," and this is considered totally benign.

On June 16, two days after the shooting in Washington, D.C., possible 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren stated, "Donald, you ain't seen nasty yet."  She stated this after CNN's Kathy Griffin's photo of a depiction of his severed head.  Reza Aslan referred to Trump as a "piece of [s---]," his assassination was simulated in a Shakespeare in the Park performance, and then there was the assassination attempt on a number of congressmen.  How much more nasty can things get?

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy, Algora Publishing, 2013.