CNN’s On-Screen Fact-Check Of Trump Speech: A Major Ethics Foul


 Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds likes to say that if the mainstream news media didn’t have double standards, it would have no standards at all. As this has rapidly degenerated into “It’s still not ethical to be unfair to Donald Trump day,” I once again have to call an ethics foul on the news media, which is apparently jettisoning all objectivity and fairness sooner in this election than ever before, as it obeys the commands of its progressive masters.

Today, CNN fact-checked Trump with an onscreen graphic that claimed one of the statements in his speech was false as they played the video. In other words, they did exactly what Rep. Joe  (“You lie!”)  Wilson did to Barack Obama in his State of the Union address. Like Wilson, CNN was correct on the facts, but still unethical. The TV audience had a right to hear Trump’s speech as his audience heard it, without simultaneous media attacks and without a negative filter. What’s next, on- screen comments like, “Boy, can you believe this douche bag?”

The left wing cyber rag PoliticusUSA cheered this despicable new low in slanted journalism, saying that “This is the type of fact-checking that should be on the screen for every single interview that Donald Trump does.” But not, presumably, every interview that Hillary Clinton does, or Bernie Sanders, or Barack Obama, who has issued many whoppers on the stump. This is the developing theme of many pundit posts on the left: the news media should be outright adversarial to Trump, while treating Democrats with kid gloves. That’s what many 21st Century Democrats call “ethical journalism”  Can Hillary still win if she loses the “fairness vote” and the anti-riot vote? I wonder.

CNN has a lot to answer for with this device; so far, none of the legitimate media ethics watchdogs have weighed in on it. I’ll help them out: this technique is not ethical journalism, but active partisan opposition. It’s unfair no matter what candidate it is used against—and, I must ask, who fact checks CNN? This is the same network that couldn’t manage to “fact-check” its own expert when he said that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Constitution!—but if this is the kind of tactic CNN is going to use on Trump speeches, it is obligated to do the same with Hillary.

18 thoughts on “CNN’s On-Screen Fact-Check Of Trump Speech: A Major Ethics Foul

  1. Jack,
    Agreed. I assume, however, it would have been ethical if a reporter (or two) commented on the speech afterwards by noting the incorrect statement of fact? In other words, the ethical line is crossed when they try and bias the information before it’s even been processed, as opposed to offering a subsequent counterpoint?

  2. I was listening to an NPR show a day or two ago, discussing Trump’s attacks on the media.

    One of the folks actually noted that, while Trump has made attacks on the media a staple, the media has also attacked Trump quite strongly.

    Imagine that — some actual balance in a discussion!

    • We should have seen this coming a mile away… CNN helps Trump, the most outrageously ill-suited of all possible candidates, kill off all the more credible and legitimate Republican candidates in the nomination process by giving him hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free media coverage.

      And now, with mission accomplished, it is time to start Phase Two of the masterful plan: the total disassembly of the Trump candidacy and the triumphant march to Hillary Clinton’s historic victory in November.

      What the media giveth, the media can taketh away.

      Only by the Republicans nominating a cartoon character buffoon can the Democrats manage to get elected one of the most unethical, dishonest, greedy and inept presidential candidates in all of American history.

      Of course, to be fair Fox News Network also helped bring about this disaster… perhaps with different motivations.

      Isn’t this just grand!

      • A bit unfair to Fox. Sean Hannity was a shameless Trump booster, and Bill O’Reilly was off and on. The Fox debates were fair to all the candidates, though, and a Fox reporter, Kelly, got under his skin as no other. I can only pick up some of this, because I have personally boycotted Fox for not firing O’Reilly and have to review the network via YouTube and other sources. But my impression was that Fox wasn’t giving Trump a free ride any more than the other networks, and less so than CNN.

        • Many estimates have it at somewhere in the range of $2 BILLION DOLLARS in “earned media coverage” free of charge to Trump.

          There is a school of thought that says that any media publicity, even bad publicity, is good publicity if you can survive it. And Trump benefited greatly by this philosophy.

          Yes, it is not really apples to apples, it is more nuanced and a matter of degrees. Fox Networks promotion of Trump was not across the board but was noticeable… at least to me. But, it seems to me that the motive for those at Fox who supported Trump was entirely different from the motives at CNN. Bollin, Hannity, O’Reilly seem to actually buy into the Trump candidacy as legitimate and something that is likely to succeed in November. The CNN personalities who “trumpeted” the Trump candidacy, and there are many, I suspect were fully aware that he was a cartoon character, buffoon who had a whole boat load of “baggage” just waiting to be put on spectacular display in due time to make Hillary look almost like Margret Thatcher by November.

          Trump was a useful “strawman” to be later easily knocked down to elect an otherwise horrible candidate, that being Hillary Clinton.

  3. It’s hard to comment on this one since I think in this age of internet that the presidential debates should have real-time fact-checking at the bottom of the screen.

    • I must agree. The problem isn’t that this was done to Trump. We all know that once a lie takes hold in the mind, it is very hard for the truth to gain a foothold there. Trump’s lies deserve to be demolished as soon and as often as possible. But then, so do everyone else’s. So the problem is that this won’t be done to every other candidate.

      • I also find the Joe Wilson analogy less than apt. This was not an interruption. It did not interfere with Trump being able to continue his speech, nor did it interfere with the ability of anyone else to hear it. It didn’t break any rules of decorum, like shouting an accusation in the middle of Congress; it simply pointed out a fact.

        There’s also the point that “You lie!” was, in and of itself, a lie.

        • No, the point is exactly that is IS an interruption, and I made that clear: what do you think was the point of “Boy, can you believe this douche bag?”. A speaker doesn’t get a fair hearing when counter-messages are being superimposed over the message as its being heard for the first time. Mark Levin and Comedy Central clowns have used that device to show disrespect for Presidential speeches in the past, making wise cracks and insults over the speech. You really think that isn’t interfering with the speech itself for the listeners who hear, “No it isn’t,” “Bullshit” and “You already said that” while he’s speaking? What’s the difference if the negative commentary is graphic rather than verbal? There is none. Unlike Wilson: it wasn’t live at the actual speech. That’s not the point. Like Wilson: It interferes with the communication from speaker to audience; it’s unfair; it’s disrespectful; it distorts the speech.

          That’s more than enough for a valid comparison.

    • You mean like Candy Crowley inaccurately contradicting Mitt Romney regarding Obama’s misrepresentations regarding whether the Libyan attack on the outpost was terrorism (NOT “an act of terror) or a spontaneous reaction to a stupid video? Like that? Because that’s what it will be: the biased call of a low-level, self-assured partisan unqualified for the job, undermining the arguments of one candidate more than another, often incorrectly and unfairly,and becoming the focus of the audience rather than the candidates themselves.

      Gee, what a useful feature!

      Fact-checks that occur on-line and in print after research and alleged thought are unfit and biased, as well as flat out wrong, a substantial percentage of the time, and you want a real time version by some anonymous individual you know nothing about and have no reason to trust? Seriously? That makes sense to you?

      Neither you nor Chris have thought this through.

      • While I agree Crowley’s behavior as a moderator was wrong and biased, I’ve never understood the distinction between “terrorism” and “act of terror.”

        • Terrorism is a term of art, referring to organized, planned use of terrorism as a political strategy, usually by a group. An Act of terror is a terrifying act, intended to terrify through violence, and can be spontaneous. So Obama’s “act of terror” line was deceit–an act can be one of terror and still be a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video. Terrorism, however, meaning, in this case an Al Qida affiliated group, means a piece of a larger tactic.

          Obama was misleading by ambiguous language, and Crowley—I believe innocently—assisted him.

  4. There should be more of it, not less. When a politician says something so obviously false and easy to check, give them the same treatment.

    What is unethical is when there’s no level playing field, when obvious porkies are told by one candidate with impunity, and minor mistakes of fact from another are pounced on and magnified.

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