Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple has been dogging CNN in a 9-part series on the network’s coverage of the Steele Dossier. If you took the entire oeuvre of the left-leaning press’s coverage of President Trump and reduced it to its essence; if you produced a vial of media essential oil, it would contain this knife fight between two Trump-hating media giants.
Let’s start by dismissing the Steele Dossier as wholly invented anti-Trump fanfic. It’s a steaming pile of garbage. As Wemple quoted from Bob Woodward’s book “Fear: Trump in the White House,” “This is a garbage document.” The fact that we’re still discussing this is comparable to if Fox News and the New York Post were still having serious discussions about Barack Obama’s provenance in Kenya deep into 2012. (The irony here, of course, is that our current president was, in fact, having those discussions, but that’s a different zebra in the same zoo.)
The Steele Dossier should not ever have been used to justify FISA warrants. It should never have been used as perjury bait by then-FBI Director James Comey. It should have been dismissed as the fantasy it was and remains. But Wemple cited quote after quote, clip after clip, of CNN claiming the Steele Dossier has legs.
Furthermore, Wemple took CNN to task for interviewing its own paid contributors and calling it “exclusive.” This is almost the definition of propaganda, or a corporate press release where the PR people cook up some nice quotes that the CEO never said but signed off on over his name. Is it ethical for CNN to have Wolf Blitzer interview Andrew McCabe and pay McCabe as a contributor to parrot CNN’s pet narrative on the FISA warrants? Probably ethical, since they disclosed it; but is it fair? No.
That’s the essence of the media’s reporting on Trump. They liberally slather themselves with Vaseline, then slide through the loopholes of ethics. They report from sources they’ve cultivated from contacts in the Obama days. They solicit comments from what 30 years ago was called the Rolodex–so-called experts who can contribute whatever opinion they want to promote.
In the latest Iran crisis, the media has twisted, misreported, and contradicted itself so many times that nobody has time to untangle the Gordian knot they’ve made. Do we believe the intelligence community, or do we not believe them? If Trump believes his intelligence advisors, then the media must be skeptical, but the same advisors are rock solid when Trump ignores them.
Erik Wemple calling CNN out on promoting the corroboration of the Steele Dossier is a microcosm of the entire media’s reporting on Trump. They form a narrative and stick to it, then find bits of fact and commentary to plug in the gaps. Is it ethical? Most of the time, they eventually get around to retracting their worst errors, or reporting items that don’t fit the narrative. But they bury those retractions, and tie anchors to the tiny bits they don’t want to report.
So, yes, the media is doing its damnedest to squeak by on ethics, because, journalism, you know. But is it fair? (It’s okay, you can laugh here.)
They’ve reported unfairly on every Republican president since Nixon (who deserved it), while minimizing the sins of Democrats they agree with. Trump is really the only president who fights back just as unfairly as they report.
Just like CNN replied to Wemple: “we stand by our reporting,” the media tells all of us that they stand behind all the misreporting, smearing, and absolute propaganda they use to attack Trump.
They say essential oils heal many illnesses and conditions. The media has a chronic case of unfairness, and we’ve discovered the essential oil for it. Wemple should bottle his 9-part series and sell it.