In an epic clash of incompetents, CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield challenged Michael Cohen, one of Donald Trump‘s advisers over his retweeting an internet meme that said that Hillary Clinton “murdered” the victims of the Benghazi mission assault.
After the House Benghazi Select Committee released its final report on the 2012 terror attacks, Cohen delivered his tweet featuring this…
It is about as stupid, lazy and inflammatory as most political memes, and the fact that Cohen would think it worth circulating tells us all we need to know about both him and the man who pays him, who would have probably tweeted this junk himself if Cohen hadn’t. Remember Cohen? He’s the Trump lawyer who crudely threatened the Daily Beast and went on to proclaim that spousal rape was legal, when it isn’t. Cohen is, by definition, a thug, a creep, and a crummy lawyer. Naturally, he’s also a Trump advisor. (Tell me again how Trump, that keen judge of legal talent, can be trusted to appoint better Supreme Court justices than Clinton would. Or that Honey Boo-Boo would.)
Sparring with Cohen on her show “Legal Views,” Ashleigh Banfield lectured the lawyer and told him, “This is libel.” thus making exactly as accurate a statement of law as Cohen’s earlier one about spousal rape. It was not libel. It was inflammatory political speech in a satirical context (would anyone think Clinton actually said this, as the meme suggests?) about a public figure, clearly an opinion rather than a statement intended to be taken literally, and no more libel than “Bush lied and people died.” Banfield’s diagnosis was 100% wrong, and the fervor with which it was delivered is the calling card of a Clinton defender.
Ashleigh Banfield, however, hosts a show called “Legal Views.” I am certain most viewers assume she is a lawyer; I know I did. She’s not. She’s not even close. She may not understand American law as well as her average viewer, since she grew up and was educated in Canada. What are her “legal” qualifications? She hosted some reality TV legal shows for the now-defunct Court TV, which means she has approximately the same qualifications to host a show about legal issues as Donald Trump has to be in the White House. There are quite a few TV reporters with law degrees, like Megyn Kelly, Nancy Grace, Greta Van Susterin and, yes, Geraldo. Why CNN wouldn’t have the integrity to insist on employing one of them to host a show about law-related news is a mystery. Well, no it isn’t. Ashleigh’s cute and perky, and gets decent ratings. The fact that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about and doesn’t have the sense to shut up when she’s faking it? They don’t care.
Now, a responsible non-lawyer could ethically host such a show, if…
1. She routinely alerted viewers that she isn’t a lawyer
2. She avoided making flawed assumptions and statements about the law, and
3. Didn’t flaunt her ignorance shamelessly and without restraint.
Banfield, however, appears to really think she is an authority, and she isn’t. She just makes her viewers more ignorant every time she states what she thinks the law is. She is also a shameless Democratic partisan, but this doesn’t distinguish her from most of her CNN colleagues.
Which is more unethical, do you think: The Trump lawyer who shoots off his mouth about the law and is horribly wrong, or the journalist who poses as one and misinforms viewers with her lazy and incorrect pronouncements?
Or is it the news network that continues to employ an arrogant legal ignoramus as its host for a show called “Legal Views”?