CNN is not fake news. Neither is it 100% fact, but that is what the 24-hour news network wants the public to take away from a new advertisement that was tweeted on Monday, the latest slap in a passive-aggressive bickering war with Pres. Donald Trump.
The origins of the feud between Trump and CNN are difficult to trace, but Trump’s use of the news organization as a whipping post began during the 2016 presidential election. Even before Trump took the oath of office, it was clear that his relationship with CNN was exempt from his casual promise to be more presidential. During his first press conference since being elected, Trump singled out CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, pointed a finger and proclaimed, “Yewww are fake news.”
When the president’s rebuke is interpreted using the fuzzy word-feelings dictionary of our new tonal social language he’s correct, but on substance he’s wrong as usual.
Yes, the CNN hosts have obvious points of view, but the truth is that on most topics each show convenes panels of experts to advocate all sides, and the underlying reporting is based on facts that are all too often inconvenient to the narrative being put out by the Trump administration. That’s as fair and balanced as a typical Fox News show – in some cases more so.
But in other cases, CNN strays and this is where Trump’s minimalist critique still holds up and their claim fails to stick. For example, allowing distinctions to be erased between attempted hacking of US election systems, foreign-based misinformation campaigns, and changing actual votes to fraud a presidential election is counter to any goal of getting to the truth. Editor of the Daily Wire Ben Shapiro writes:
For months, we heard nothing but the story from CNN that the Russians had “hacked” the election. That wasn’t fact, but narrative. The problem with CNN isn’t that they’re fact-free — they’re not, and many of their reporters are excellent — but that they have a bad habit of conflating their opinions with the facts in the same way as any other outlet. The only difference: they fib about doing so, as many in the pseudo-objective media do.
So no, the ad doesn’t work. An apple is indeed an apple, but CNN has been in the business of slicing, dicing, juicing, and mixing that apple with bananas in order to fit its preferred political outcome.
And on a number of issues, CNN does promote the idea that sometimes an apple is a banana, or more precisely that a banana must be called a cantaloupe if that’s what the banana chooses. Put another way, the father of modern psychology Sigmund Freud was attributed to have posited, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” It is equally true that a cigar is never a flower, but CNN has helped to promote that kind of fallacy in the debate over the rights of individuals to self-identify their gender and compel others to recognize their choice.
CNN may be completely unaware that there is a list of these protected “facts” enshrined in their reporting. Suggest to CNN host Don Lemon that it could be reasonable to be offended by anthem protests, or that we should not debate gun control or police shootings by using cherry-picked data and talking points. Or meekly interject to any CNN host that although science shows trends of change in our climate, drastic and sweeping policies could be ineffective or even harmful. In those cases, and on the matter of human sexuality, CNN has moved ahead of the facts to chisel some of its beliefs into stone. Their facts are not so much facts as deeply held beliefs; they may be based on some supporting evidence, but almost always disregard conflicting data.
And there’s the question of CNN’s “facts” in how it chooses words to be used and repeated in the framing of issues. The word “access” has been grossly redefined by the English-to-MSM Dictionary used by CNN. The resulting divergence in a lexicon of debate on policy ensures that communities in different thought bubbles do not have a common point of reference.