There was a remarkable moment of dissonance this week at CNN, a network that is now adamant in its negative and highly biased reporting on the government. The White House CNN reporter, Jim Acosta, has been repeatedly called for this bias and sent out a clearly misleading tweet beating the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany. In the meantime, CNN presenter Jake Tapper set the record fairly against McEnany. While I have occasionally criticized Tapper, I have often praised him for his professionalism and intellect. That's why. This was CNN once and with the help of personalities like Tapper it could be again: an honest and objective news organization.
In the Thursday meeting, McEnany reiterated President Trump's request that the children go back to school in the fall.
"Science shouldn't stand in the way, but like Dr. Scott Atlas said – I thought that would be a good quote: 'Of course we can do it. Everyone else in the western world, our peer nations, do it. We are the runaway here. “Science is very clear about this. For example, take a look at the JAMA children's study at 46 children's hospitals in North America, which found that the risk of critical illness from COVID in children is far less than that associated with seasonal flu. Science is on our side here. We encourage places and states to simply follow science. Open our schools. "
She clearly cites science as support for the position of the administration. However, Acosta cut off the statement so that it sounds like McEnany rejects the relevance of science: "The White House spokesman on Trump's efforts to reopen schools:" Science shouldn't stand in the way. "
That was clear and absolutely wrong. However, Acosta knew that it would work well in the eco-journalistic model adopted by CNN. He quickly collected 30,000 retweets. He later added that McEnany actually meant the opposite. That received less than 700 retweets. It is the ultimate example of the demand from many viewers to only hear news that supports their own prejudices and contributes to a kind of journalistic comfort zone.
He sent the second tweet in Acosta's favor, but the statement "McEnany went on to say that science is on our side" doesn't quite capture the scene. The quote was McEnany and related to a scientific study. Immediately after the line quoted, McEnany said: "Science is very clear about this." Two lines later, she added: "Science is here on our side." The entire quote was McEnany, who submitted a scientific study that confirmed her position. It's like a McEnany saying, "National security is not relevant because the Department of Defense report supports this policy," only to tweet Acosta. "The White House press secretary:" National security is not relevant "in White House politics.
Over at CNN headquarters, however, Tapper stepped out of this comfort zone and corrected CNN's chief correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta after repeating the same false narrative that McEnany had an "alternative factual moment".
Tapper replied, "If only I could say, Sanjay. I think she just wanted to say that science shouldn't get in the way because science is on our side. I don't know that all of science is on their side – and this White House, its respect for science knows boundaries, let's put it that way, but I think that was what it was trying to do. "
That's why I'm a fan of Tapper.
I still have a lot of friends at CNN who privately complain about the changes under President Jeff Zucker, who admitted that the infinite focus on Trump was part of his efforts to boast of ratings. It is often impossible to distinguish CNN hosts from those who support their programs. The hosts are now openly standing up for the president – and reject this on the pretext that a guest is taking partisan position. I really miss the old CNN. Many people feel that there is simply no source of objective news in this environment and turn off reporting. The loss to journalism is immense. In fact, if anything, it can drive people to Trump.
It is clear that Zucker will continue the echo-journalistic model for ratings, as the New York Times recently gave up its own journalistic objectivity. There is still a constant presence at CNN, where journalistic objectivity was once the rule. Call it a "phantom limb" feeling or muscle memory, but it's a reminder of what CNN should be.