BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Has CNN become Fox News?

Just when you thought it was over it starts again, and many feel that CNN just pooped the bed. But let’s be more civil and analytical, if such is possible in today’s world.

I understand television programming and its various justifications for reasons of ratings and revenue, but CNN broke some rules last night when they put the orange devil on the air for nearly ninety minutes in prime time. According to the American Press Institute, journalism’s first obligation is telling the truth. Good decision making depends on people having reliable, accurate facts placed in meaningful contexts.

The second rule in TV news is never let the interviewee play you. Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite turned in their graves last night. Why did CNN allow the former President to lie about the 2020 election? Why didn’t they confront him live, in real time, and tell him to his face that he’s still lying and  ask him why he needs to constantly do so? Why not make it personal? Trump certainly does.

Any interviewer would have their hands full with Donald Trump, but a noble journalist must elicit truth. Kaitlan Collins asked Donald Trump some great questions, but she didn’t get him to admit anything. She was a facilitator for his lies. No matter how many panels CNN puts on for the rest of the week whining about Trump, some people will continue to believe his mendacities. It’s impossible for a journalist to create a clear vision when their primary source is a pathological liar, so why did CNN put him on?

This “town hall“ did not provide any insight into a lying candidate. It was just another network elevating Trump, giving him more oxygen and free airtime for his continuous deceit. How is this good for America?

Trump is an idiot on foreign relations and the current cultural realities of an ever-growing browner and more diverse America. He stopped absorbing and thinking in 1956.

The Donald couldn’t call Putin a war criminal, but in the very next sentence he described the atrocities of the war in Ukraine, unable to connect the dots that it’s his buddy Vlad who is doing the killing. I would have asked him, right at that moment, “What makes you so afraid of Putin?” Instead, we got more of the same bullshit, deception and tap dancing so fundamental to Donald Trump.

Chris Wallace is on the CNN payroll, but I’m sure Trump would never have agreed to a sit down with him. Instead, the network brought out their morning show tryout who asked penetrating questions but didn’t adequately rebut the responses. The entire affair became lost in the dust of Trump’s repetitive, nonsensical crap. Had he been properly grilled, I’m sure Trump would have walked off the stage, which would have been far more illuminating.

And what was up with that audience? It’s clear they were not properly vetted or managed, which obliterated the newsworthiness of the whole event. Instead of having a hall full of dimwits laughing and clapping at a fat, orange monkey, why not have an audience of journalists with each getting to pose one short, pointed question?

If TV news is to survive, it must have a certain gravity and gravitas based on truth. The CNN debacle showcased our drunken uncle babbling away about matters well beyond his comprehension. He couldn’t even pull off looking prepared, statesmanlike or normal. He just blathered put-downs and platitudes with the overarching theme of how screwed up America is. Why would we give this blowhard four more years to do what he couldn’t do in the four years he was president?

I’m going to briefly step aside here to inject a Tweet of someone who says it better, the former President’s niece, Mary L. Trump, “I’m furious…. CNN is anti-American. In less than an hour, they allowed an authoritarian wannabe to lie constantly while an audience full of his followers applauded. This was not a town hall; it was a rally. Donald bragged about overturning Roe v. Wade. He claimed—unchallenged—that Democrats allow babies to be murdered after they’re born. He bragged about his intention to pardon convicted insurrectionists. He advocated for the United States to default on its debt which would destroy the world economy. And he showed, once again, why a jury of his peers found him liable for sexual assault and defamation. But Donald Trump cannot destroy our country by himself. That requires allies. He already has the Republican party in his pocket. And now, he has CNN on his side. Tonight’s CNN fiasco was a tragedy for American democracy.”

Mary Trump clearly is just as appalled as I and many others are. CNN will have to work awfully hard to restore its credibility with me but, then again, like many my age I am starting to think that it’s all just bullshit. We can’t trust Congress. We can’t trust the Supreme Court and we certainly cannot trust CNN, or Fox, or MSNBC, or any news outlet that hides behind the bright lights of showbiz while leaving honest reporting and penetrating journalism splat on the sidewalk.

Think about all the major news stories that have broken in the last ten years and realize they resulted from the arduous work of journalists at the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, Pro-Publica and other outlets. The talking heads on TV just read the words. They spend more time on their hair and makeup than pounding out the truth on a keyboard.

It’s embarrassing. Recently I heard one of the talking heads actually say, “Well, I haven’t read the whole document yet, but this could be either real good, or real bad for Donald Trump.” WTF!

Sorry, but if you attempt to be “fair and balanced” with Donald John Trump, you will merely make him President again and that would be the end of journalism and, oh yeah, DEMOCRACY!

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