Why It’s Unethical For Journalists To “Fact Check” Donald Trump—Especially CNN Journalists

Donald Trump

In Donald Trump’s meaningless statement yesterday, which was covered by the news media as if it was the revelation of the millennium, he  officially conceded that Barack Obama is a natural born U.S. citizen. He also used the silly media attention to drag out his announcement into a long campaign infomercial for which he didn’t have to pay a cent. Nice, and it serves the broadcast media right for giving any significance to a five-year-long trolling exercise.

Trump used the phony controversy over President Obama’s birth certificate to get publicity five years ago, because he is shameless. That’s all. Did he really think Obama was born in Kenya? Oh, who knows? He is an idiot, after all. Then again, he is a skilled professional troll. Whether he believed it or not, Trump used the issue to get attention then, and now has used his 180 degree reversal to get attention now. Obviously nothing has changed that would justify this flip-flop if he believed what he insisted was true for five years. A more transparently cynical and insincere retraction I cannot conceive. Who cares what Trump says he believes at any point, about anything?

But I digress. What really seemed to enrage the journalists who have embraced Rationalizations #28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times,” and #31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now” to anoint themselves as full-time volunteer members of the Hillary for President campaign, was that Trump said this:

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”

Quoth the thoroughly partisan news media,


How dare he! “Trump Drops False ‘Birther’ Theory, but Floats a New One: Clinton Started It”, shouted the New York Times. Over at the Clinton Network, CNN, Jake Tapper, once the oasis of objectivity and integrity in that desert of shriveled ethics, proclaimed, his anger palpable:

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign did make an attempt to otherize Barack Obama during the 2007-2008  campaign, talking about his foreign roots, talking about the ways in which he might not necessarily be perceived as being rooted in this country. They never mentioned his birth certificate. That never happened by Hillary Clinton. That never happened by the Hillary Clinton campaign. I covered it at the time…but she and her campaign never, ever started the birther issue.”

Wow. Never ever!

I feel badly for Jake. I do. He is a good journalist, but culture has been described as like water to a fish. The fish doesn’t know how much it is affected by it. CNN’s culture is thoroughly biased and rotted through, and I imagine that it is virtually impossible for any journalist to work there without starting to turn into Carol Costello, in other words, a left-biased hack. Get out, Jake. Get out while you can.

By the end of the day, there was plenty of evidence that while Trump, as usual, over-stated the matter, calling what he said a lie is not justified (but it would sure hurt when a moderator did it in a debate!)


Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager early in her 2008 campaign, admitted to Wolf Blitzer  that a Clinton campaign staffer had circulated the Birther conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was born outside the U.S. and therefore potentially ineligible to serve in the presidency:

Blitzer: Someone supporting Hillary Clinton was trying to promote this so-called Birther issue? What happened?

Doyle: So we — absolutely, the campaign nor Hillary did not start the Birther movement, period, end of story there. There was a volunteer coordinator, I believe, in late 2007, I believe, in December, one of our volunteer coordinators in one of the counties in Iowa — I don’t recall whether they were an actual paid staffer, but they did forward an email that promoted the conspiracy.

Blitzer: The Birther conspiracy?

Doyle: Yeah, Hillary made the decision immediately to let that person go. We let that person go. And it was so, beyond the pale, Wolf, and so not worthy of the kind of campaign that certainly Hillary wanted to run.

This is the old “rogue staffer” routine—you know, like the IRS targeting of conservative groups was originally laid off on a “rogue staffer.” Here’s the problem: a rogue staffer is still a staffer. A staffer who floats a rumor on behalf of a campaign is still part of the campaign. Sorry, Jake, but you are wrong. You were so desperate to come to Hillary’s aid that you didn’t check the facts.

Fish, meet Water.

But wait, there’s more:

Item: In a 20o7 strategy memo, Hillary’s pollster Mark Penn suggested that Obama’s “lack of American roots” was a core vulnerability to be exploited by the Clinton campaign:

mark-pennThis sure sounds like hinting at birther problems to me. Trump, if this is what he is alluding to, has overstated his case, but so has Tapper, the Times, and many others. Reasonable people may disagree regarding how much Penn’s advice influenced staff, and whether the fact that setting up a contrast between Clinton and Obama by emphasizing where she was born and the fact that Hillary is “American” and Obama, well, was kinda, sorta not, laid the groundwork and plowed the way for the Birthers. It is still unfair and inaccurate to call Trump’s conclusion a lie. There is plenty to support his position. Like this:


Former McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief James Asher tweeted Friday that [ former and current Clinton advisor and bag man Sid] Blumenthal had “told me in person” that Obama was born in Kenya.

“During the 2008 Democratic primary, Sid Blumenthal visited the Washington Bureau of McClatchy Co.,” Asher said in an email Friday to McClatchy, noting that he was at the time the investigative editor and in charge of Africa coverage.

“During that meeting, Mr. Blumenthal and I met together in my office and he strongly urged me to investigate the exact place of President Obama’s birth, which he suggested was in Kenya. We assigned a reporter to go to Kenya, and that reporter determined that the allegation was false.

“At the time of Mr. Blumenthal’s conversation with me, there had been a few news articles published in various outlets reporting on rumors about Obama’s birthplace. While Mr. Blumenthal offered no concrete proof of Obama’s Kenyan birth, I felt that, as journalists, we had a responsibility to determine whether or not those rumors were true. They were not.”

Contacted by McClatchy, Blumenthal denied the episode, which he would have done whether it was true or not. Blumenthal has as checkered a relationship with the truth as Hillary.The point isn’t that Trump was definitely fair or correct to state that “Hillary started” the Birther rumors. (I think it’s unfair, though she is, again, accountable for what her staff does, with or without her direct approval.)  The point is that this issue, like many issues, is more complicated than the mainstream news media, being completely unable to apply objectivity due to its toxic Trump hate and open determination to place Democrats in power—even lying and corrupt ones—cannot be trusted to “fact check” statements by candidates they are determined to destroy.

But let me return to that “water” that Jake Tapper is swimming in, CNN.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week spectacularly outed herself as a full-fledged, rationalizating, spinning, member of the Clinton Corrupted, and a none-too-bright one at that.  The catalyst was the media coverage of Hillary‘s collapse during the 9/11 ceremony and the criticism of her campaign’s attempted cover-up. Here’s the video:

“Can’t a girl have a sick day or two?” she asks. Oh, Hillary’s a girl now! And “…When it comes to overqualified women having to try 100 times harder than under-qualified men to get a break or even a level playing field, well, we know that story.”

The fact that Amanpour is a sexist, anti-male bigot has been discussed on Ethics Alarms before, but this is so unprofessional that it would demand harsh redress in an ethical news organization. If Hillary is “over-qualified” to be President (nobody is over-qualified to be President), I’m Marie of Rumania, and if Amanpour thinks that, then she is incapable of competent news analysis.

Christiane Amanpour is incapable of competent news analysis.

An individual of rudimentary reasoning abilities with an understanding that rationalizations aren’t ethical arguments would never stoop to “What about Donald Trump’s tax returns?” as a rebuttal to the accusation that Clinton’s staff was misrepresenting the state of Hillary’s health. Amanpour also plays the gender card, as if any candidate for President who has to be carried away from an appearance wouldn’t spark equal media attention. Get used to this, especially on CNN, if Hillary becomes President. This method of demonizing critics and suppressing dissent has worked for Obama (race, gender…its all the same), and Clinton’s defenders in her party and her party’s mouthpiece, the mainstream media, can be counted upon to rely upon it too. They are already.

This was the best part of Amanpour’s rant, however:

Considering the media outrage over Hillary failing to tell them she had pneumonia on Friday, consider the media activity shielding some great American presidents, agreeing for instance not to show these photographs of Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose polio kept him confined to a wheelchair. But did that stop his New Deal for America or winning World War II?

And then there is everyone’s favorite president, John F Kennedy. Now, he saved the world from possible nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban missile crisis, called for a new frontier in space, and generally inspired whole generations around the globe, while the press kept secret his painful struggle with Addison’s disease. Leading the world in sickness and in health—if the boys can do it, why not the women?

This is, I hope obviously to all, a deranged rationalization potpourri of breathtaking scope and depressing idiocy. The press lying to the nation about FDR’s health was acceptable because it didn’t stop the U.S. from “winning World War II”?  This isn’t just “the ends justify the means,’ it’s “any ends justify any means,” a.k.a. “I’m a babbling moron.” It is only by purest accident that the news media’s covering up FDR’s rapidly deteriorating health when he irresponsibly ran for a fourth term knowing he was likely to die in office didn’t result in world catastrophe. The career political hack Roosevelt had chosen as Vice President turned out to be a strong leader with excellent common sense and great courage, but that was just moral luck. Harry Truman just as easily could have turned out to be Donald Trump. Amanpour’s fact-resistant assertions about Kennedy are only less outrageous because of their proximity to her rationalizations about FDR. Nobody who has studied the Kennedy administration thinks of him as their “favorite President.” JFK got the U.S. into the Cuban Missile Crisis with his botched Cuban invasion and inept diplomacy; the fable that he “saved the world from possible nuclear Armageddon” has been exposed as Kennedy propaganda machine spin. (Nikita Khrushchev was the hero of that confrontation.) But never mind that: how does any of this justify the press conspiring with leaders to hide information that the public has a right to know?

Amanpour is a disgrace to journalism, as is the network that tolerates such proud and brainless bias. We cannot and should not trust these people, who are neither wise, nor fair, responsible or well-informed. They can’t even fact check themselves. How dare they presume to fact check candidates?


Sources: McClatchy, NYT, Mediaite, Gateway Pundit, The Atlantic

11 thoughts on “Why It’s Unethical For Journalists To “Fact Check” Donald Trump—Especially CNN Journalists

  1. Christiane Amanpour seems to have turned out to be the Putze Hanfstaengl of the “mainstream” media. Hanfstaengl for those unfamiliar with his background was a German-American who was an acquaintance of FDR, attended Harvard graduating in 1909, and would play Harvard fight songs on the piano at football games. He moved back to Germany after WW1 and became enchanted with Hitler helping him publish Mein Kämpf and as a reward became head of the Foreign Press Corp. Known as Hitler’s piano player, he would play Harvard fight songs for Hitler who enjoyed them. Later on he became disenchanted with Der Fuerher after he was ordered to go on a secret mission to be dropped by parachute over Spanish Republican Lines! It seems that Amanpour has became “Hillary’s piano player”.

    • Didn’t Hanfstaengl write some of the Nazi themes and base them on the Harvard fight songs?

      And, iirc, Speer maintained that the whole Spanish incident was just one of Hitler’s well-known, but unfunny, practical jokes. Although, considering Hitler, it’s certainly possible that it was an attempt to get rid of Putzi, who was thought of as kind of a joke in Nazi circles anyway. I don’t blame him either way for getting out.

      Hanfstaengl went to his Harvard reunion in the ’70s, enthralling students with his knowledge of the originators of the fight songs, etc, somehow failing to bring up those awkward days in Germany’s ’20s and ’30s

    • Sure it’s an opinion piece…it’s an opinion piece by a reporter, not a pundit, that reveals bias and an inability to reason. That’s disgraceful for a journalist. If Eric Severeid, in his famous end of the CBS Evening News commentary, announced that a Presidential candidate could do no wrong in his eyes, that would have been considered shocking and a breach of his duty of neutrality. A reporter registering an opinion isn’t excused from bias or stupidity because it’s commentary—this was both.

  2. I just heard the best defense for voting for Trump as opposed to Clinton to date; it goes something like this…

    The Clinton’s are corrupt politically knowledgeable people that know how to manipulate the system to get their way and they won’t put anyone into advisory positions, cabinet positions, or the supreme court that can’t be manipulated by them, the Clinton’s will dominate the administration, the government, and the country because no one will be willing to stand up to them; Trump is an idiot and doesn’t know a damn thing about getting something done in DC, so everyone he puts in advisory positions, cabinet positions, and the supreme court will be vastly more knowledgeable and likely a a whole lot smarter than he is, therefore the country will actually be run by intelligent people with a puppet at the top not run by a puppet master that’s manipulating a bunch of sheep.

    Based on that opinion (which is NOT mine); who would you pick for the White House?

    Personally I still can’t stomach voting for either.

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