Reliable Sources

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  • CNN's Reliable Sources Highlights The Problem Of Media Rallying Behind Trump's Missile Strikes

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    CNN media reporter Brian Stelter defied mainstream media’s unabashedly fawning coverage of President Donald Trump after he ordered a missile strike on a Syrian airbase thought to have deployed a chemical weapons attack against Syrian rebel forces that killed and injured many civilians, including children.

    During the April 9 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, Stelter highlighted major media outlets’ largely one-sided reaction to news about the strike and urged for more diversity in commentary. Stelter noted that “too often skeptical voices are marginalized” and “drowned out by the beating of war drums” when presidents launch military strikes. From the the April 9 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources:

    Stelter encouraged major media to self-reflect on Trump’s missile strike and advocated hosting more diverse perspectives about military operations, saying “there are hawks and there are doves” and that it is important to hear every opinion on the military actions. Contrary to Stelter’s call for reflection, much of the coverage of the missile strike was dominated by praise from voices like Time magazine’s Michael Duffy and sparse on moments of analysis and criticism from voices like ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, a former aide to President George W. Bush who split with the administration over the Iraq War. Rather than provide the public with a balanced discussion of actions in Syria, cable news producers featured a disproportionate amount of commentators that called for further military action.

    In spite of consistently negative news coverage of the Trump administration, major media outlets have tended to band together to defend and praise military actions Trump takes as “presidential.” Weeks before the Syrian missile strikes, media went full bore in praising Trump after he shamelessly used the widow of a fallen Navy SEAL as a prop during his speech before a joint session of Congress to diffuse public concerns about a botched raid in Yemen that left many civilians dead, including an 8-year old American girl, and “yielded no significant intelligence.” In his analysis of Trump’s speech, liberal CNN commentator Van Jones went as far to declare Trump “became president of the United States in that moment. Period.”

    Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert told MSNBC host Joy Reid that, when covering Trump, media are “desperate to present him as normal” so they “don't have to acknowledge how radical he is,” and likened this coverage to the reckless reporting during the Iraq War, which was used to win public support for military action.

    It is grossly irresponsible for media outlets to praise the president for military operations and advocate for war without offering audiences equal doses of skepticism and opposition. One-sided coverage can oversimplify complex geopolitics and dissuade the public from participating in the balanced discourse matters of national security deserve.

  • STUDY: Fox News Barely Covered Bill O'Reilly's Harassment Settlements

    CNN’s Brian Stelter Provides Exemplary Coverage Of The Accusations

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & NINA MAST

    Fox News gave minimal coverage to a New York Times report detailing $13 million in settlements host Bill O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox paid to five women who accused him of harassment. When Fox did cover the report, the coverage was merely a host reading statements from O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox denying the allegations, echoing the network’s coverage of Fox founder Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment allegations. Meanwhile, CNN’s Brian Stelter provided exemplary coverage of the report, contextualizing it and speaking to people close to the accusers.

  • On CNN, Journalists Provide Historical Context For Criticism Of Trump's Attacks On The Media

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On the February 26 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, journalists warned about the parallels between attacks on the free press from President Donald Trump and his administration and similar strategies used by President Richard Nixon and authoritarian regimes.

    Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor and conservative columnist Bret Stephens stated that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s decision to exclude certain outlets from a February 24 press gaggle is part of a strategy by the administration to “bully the press” and “manipulate coverage,” saying he “would call it Nixonian, except I think that would be unfair to the memory of President Nixon.” Stephens added, “if the administration is going try to boycott certain news outlets, then perhaps we should, as news organizations, return the favor to this administration”:

    BRIAN STELTER (HOST): When you invite a channel called One America News Network, which is so small it doesn't have Nielsen ratings, but then you exclude CNN, it's clearly a premeditated decision. So let me ask you Bret about this, does this feel like part of a strategy by the White House?

    BRET STEPHENS: Yeah, it seems, I would call it "Nixonian," except I think that would be unfair to the memory of President Nixon. This is an attempt to bully the press by using access as a weapon to manipulate coverage. And, I think The Wall Street Journal put out a statement that I thought was very clear: that if we had known what was happening we wouldn't have participated in that meeting with Mr. Spicer. And I think that's the right attitude for the rest of the press to take, that if the administration is going try to boycott certain news outlets, then perhaps we should, as news organizations, return the favor to this administration.

    In a later segment, columnist Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News compared Trump’s relations with the media to that of “right-wing authoritarians in Europe in the 1930s” and “Hugo Chavez in Venezuela on the left in the 21st century,” stating, “the first thing authoritarian governments do is go after the media”:

    STELTER: Will, you wrote for the Philly Daily News that this language, “enemy of the people,” that it has historical parallels. Tell us about that.

    WILL BUNCH: Yeah, absolutely. If you look back, Brian, the last 100 years going all the way back to the rise of right-wing authoritarians in Europe in the 1930s, but follow a straight line all the way to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela on the left in the 21st century, and you’ll see that the first thing that authoritarian governments do is go after the media. And there's been concerns about Donald Trump, going back to the campaign, that he was going to try and run the government in an authoritarian fashion. And I think when he calls the press the "enemy of the American people," I think he’s playing exactly into the worst of what people feared from a Trump administration. Not to get too Orwellian here, but I think what's going on big picture is the Trump administration and his advisers like Steve Bannon and Donald Trump himself are in a war to control what is the truth. When they tell repeated lies like about the murder rate in America or even about little stuff like the number of people at his inauguration, they’re trying to create a scenario where they, and not the media, are the ones defining the truth. And so tearing down the media is also part of the strategy. And some of it doesn’t matter now, but in the months ahead there’s going to be big crises. We’re going to see his signature programs, like mass deportation implemented over the coming months. And the truth is going to become more and more important. And you know, just like Orwell warned in "1984", he who controls the truth is in control and I think that’s the big strategy here.

    Click here to tell the White House Press Corps to stand up Trump’s media blacklist.