CNN hits a new low, no longer pretending to be fair at all
See also: CNN busted trying to put scripted words in mouth of hero Stoneman Douglas student at televised town hall
On Tuesday evening, I was watching CNN (note to editor: my request for hardship duty pay will follow) when I observed a new low point – and considering the recent history of CNN, that's really saying something. The program was The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Like all of the hosts on CNN, including news anchors, Blitzer is consistently anti-Trump, so I wasn't expecting anything close to fair and balanced. But what I saw this time was even more obnoxious and telling. As Blitzer and his talking head guests opined, a chyron on the bottom of the screen (the text scrolling with breaking news updates or quick summaries of points being discussed) said, all in caps:
WHITE HOUSE REPEATS TRUMP'S FALSE CLAIM
THAT HE'S TOUGHER ON RUSSIA THAN OBAMA
There it was, right out in the open: an unproven, opinionated editorial judgment on a supposed hard news program, spelled out for everyone to read.
CNN Tuesday February 20, 2018, 6:41 P.M. EST.
At that point in the program, at 6:41 P.M. EST, Blitzer and CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins were discussing a tweet by President Trump:
I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts. Total Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2018
This was the on-air dialogue at that point in the broadcast, according to CNN's transcript:
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it's very interesting, Kaitlan, because the president tweeted once again today this: "I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama. Just look at the facts. Total fake news." What does the White House point to as evidence of that?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they were asked about this several times at the press briefing today, and Sarah Sanders referred to the president building up the military and exporting things to Eastern Europe, and those – that lethal arms sale to Ukraine and whatnot. She pointed to all those things, but she couldn't point to anything that was tangible that he really did that was more than what the Obama administration did.
And that's because over this last year that this president has been in office, for 13 months now, he's dodged the subject of interference by Russia in the election and whatnot. And that was the thing. The bar is so low here for the president to condemn Russia for what they did, and yet we have not seen that, even in light of what we learned on Friday about this incredibly savvy scheme on behalf of the Russians to interfere in the election.
But the statement put out by the White House, the first graph of it dealt with the fact that the president felt that it showed there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. And then if you looked at what the president tweeted all weekend, which is just a window into what he really thinks, he was much more critical of Democrats and the FBI and his own national security adviser than he was Vladimir Putin and the Russians.
As the live discussion went on, CNN's chyron, quoted and pictured above, for a number of minutes blared CNN's interpretation as opposed to objective reporting of the "breaking news." It was obviously an editorial judgment, since its claim is by no means a universally agreed on fact.
For some context, ignored by CNN, one need only recall President Obama's hot mic comment to place-holding Russian president Medvedev, as reported widely at the time, including in a March 26, 2012 article in the New York Times:
President Obama found his private moment of political candor caught by a live microphone on Monday as he told President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia that he would have "more flexibility" to negotiate on the delicate issue of missile defense after the November election, which Mr. Obama apparently feels confident he will win.
On February 20, 2018, in its analysis of Trump's February 20, 2018 Twitter claims, Politifact noted:
"Obama's first national security strategy only mentioned Russia as a potential partner, never as a possible threat," [Matthew] Kroenig [an associate professor in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University] said. "He promised in the famous 'hot mic' episode that he would have 'flexibility' to make concessions on missile defense after the (2012) election. He refused to intervene in Syria in part because his team feared direct conflict with Russia. He refused to provide lethal aid to Ukraine fearing escalation with Russia. And he did not develop a serious strategy to deter the threat of Russian nuclear 'de-escalation' strikes."
It was supposedly a turning-point moment in the third and final presidential debate in the 2012 campaign when President Obama chastised Republican nominee Mitt Romney for identifying Russia as a major foe of the U.S. In putting down Romney's assertion, Obama said:
"I'm glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaeda. In the 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years. I know you haven't been in a position to actually execute foreign policy. But every time you've offered an opinion, you've been wrong."
Not exactly a hard-line view about Russia from the POTUS.
The Obama administration supposedly pursued a slightly harder line against Russia during Obama's second term – although that judgment is undergoing increasing challenge by the emerging evidence pointing to the Obama administration's embrace of the infamous Trump dossier that was produced with the apparent connivance and input of Russia and its much-maligned President Vladimir Putin.
The left-of-center media analysis website Mediaite took note of CNN's performance on Tuesday in a story titled "CNN Completely Jumps the Shark with Chyron Fact-Checking Subjective Trump Claim." The author, Aidan McLaughlin, is no friend of President Trump, judging by his recent Mediaite articles and his Twitter feed.
John Noonan, the senior counselor for military and defense affairs in the office of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), issued two tweets on Wednesday criticizing CNN's action:
CNN respectfully, please tell your producer not to do this. You can’t anniont [sic] yourself arbiter of these debates
Strikes on Russian backed forces in Syria. Lethal asst to Ukraine, reforming NATO armor/airborne forces, military/intel increases all tougher on Putin than last Admin pic.twitter.com/ULuU699J54
— John Noonan (@noonanjo) February 21, 2018
You can get experts to debate the merits of each admin’s policies, that’s perfectly fine. But this isn’t just putting your finger on the scale — it’s sitting on it.
I agree when you say a free and fair press is important. Pls remember the latter
cc @omriceren who screengrabbed
— John Noonan (@noonanjo) February 21, 2018
On another subject of current trending interest – the mounting campaign supporting legislation to restrict Second Amendment rights and enact new gun laws in the wake of last week's school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. – CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was immediately called out for repeating a lie that was exposed as such two years ago. Cuomo's fake news report claimed that a 20-year-old with an expired ID was able to buy an AR-15 "semi-auto" rifle in five minutes. Cuomo tweeted this made up story, and when he was informed that it had been debunked, not only did he not correct his error or, God forbid, apologize, but he doubled down with a follow-up tweet that continued to obfuscate the issue. It should be noted that Cuomo, unlike Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham at the Fox News Channel, is a supposed news – and not opinion – program anchor. This story is detailed at IJR and The Weekly Standard.
Thanks to the high profile newly accorded the fake story by Cuomo and CNN, Sam Zief, a student at Stoneman Douglas High School and a participant in the listening session on school violence with President Trump in the White House State Dining Room on February 21, tearfully and angrily repeated the false claim about the 20-year-old and the AR-15. A live audience of millions of viewers watched as multiple channels broadcast the event live. The video clip of what Zief said to the president went viral afterward.
Anyone tuning in to CNN for real, accurate news should look elsewhere – or have his head examined.
Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture. He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. In addition to his writing, Peter has appeared as a guest commentator on NBC; PBS; the CBC in Canada; and, on January 4, 2018, the BBC in London. For announcements and links to a wide selection of Peter's published and broadcast work, follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.
Corrected Tom Cotton's party affiliation to R