Following CNN’s exclusion from last Friday’s White House press gaggle, CNN’s Jake Tapper stared into the camera, jaw set in righteous indignation. “This White House does not seem to respect the idea of accountability,” he lectured. “This White House does not seem to value an independent press.”
“There is a word for that line of thinking,” Tapper continued. I sat unmoving, anxiously awaiting the word.
“The word is ‘un-American,’” said Tapper.
Dang. I had so hoped it would be “karma.”
A week ago, 99 percent of Americans thought a gaggle was a flock of geese—a coincidence far too ironic to be unintentional. It appears that a White House press gaggle is to a White House press briefing what a high school slumber party is to high school graduation; more informal, no cameras, smaller room.
Calling the exclusion of CNN (and The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed) “un-American” is a stretch. While Ari Fleischer, press secretary for George W. Bush, called the move “unwise” in that it could hinder relationships with the press, as he pointed out to CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, “There’s a crucial distinction to be made here … This is not a threat to the First Amendment.”
However, watching CNN, you would think Godzilla just stepped on the National Archives, crushing the Constitution.
CNN’s habit of substituting activism for journalism has earned the network little sympathy. The truth is that a growing swath of America views CNN as “fake news.” Gun owners particularly chafe at CNN’s dishonesty on Second Amendment issues, wherein CNN staffers behave like crusaders, not reporters.
The most famous example happened on May 16, 2003, when NRA’s Wayne LaPierre called out CNN’s John Zarrella for blatantly faking a story on “assault weapons.” CNN showed cinder blocks being destroyed by a fully automatic machine gun (a firearm not even relevant to Clinton’s ban); they then showed unmolested cinder blocks while a law enforcement officer fired a legal gun into the ground.
The next day, CNN’s Kyra Phillips couldn’t bring herself to even call their report a mistake. Even if one accepts the preposterous notion that airing this report was an honest mistake, a retraction and an apology were warranted, but none ever appeared.
When CNN selected Brit Piers Morgan to replace Larry King in 2011, gun owners were subjected to years of anti-gun hysteria. Morgan himself cited the unpopularity of his anti-gun crusade as the chief reason for his dismissal in 2014.
Gun owners often recall their own turning point in their relationship with CNN. For me, it was when Christiane Amanpour promised an indignant CNN panel that, in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, they wouldn’t let the passion for gun control subside. “It’s on us now,” she summed up. Just when did she add political advocacy to a journalist’s job description? A White House press gaggle is to a White House press briefing what a high school slumber party is to high school graduation; more informal, no cameras, smaller room.
CNN anchor Carol Costello’s grasp of gun facts is more suited for a high school sophomore’s Facebook Live post. In June 2016, she was completely unaware of a Barack Obama-ordered CDC study showing extensive use of guns for lawful self-defense: “Wait, wait a minute. Wait, wait ... I just want to point out facts. I don't know what study you're citing, but the CDC has been barred from doing any research on guns.”
Complaining that mass shootings rarely result in gun control laws, she said “Nothing is ever done, and nothing ever changes because people hide behind their old, tired arguments. And you know what, I'll just say it, Chris, it makes me angry. It just makes me angry."
She was speaking with anchor Chris Cuomo, who replied, “Of course there's a better way to deal with guns in this society than we are. Any fool would know that … Of course the gun policy doesn't make sense right now. Of course it doesn't. And that's why you're angry. Because there is a necessary frustration when you're faced with situations that are so obvious that don't change over time.”
Cuomo wears his bias proudly; once, he told Obama’s secretary of education, “Secretary, my only advice for you is that you should go on a shame campaign with congress to get them to act. ‘New Day’ will help. CNN will help. We wish you good luck, Secretary Duncan.” With talk like that, Cuomo should be required to register as a lobbyist.
Anderson Cooper allowed tough questions of Obama in his “Guns In America” town hall. However, CNN reported that NRA “refused to participate” without stating that NRA was only offered one question from the floor, whereas Obama was allowed almost unlimited time to justify his gun control agenda. In current parlance, this debate would accurately be described as “rigged.”
Since the election, CNN’s content can best be summed up as “Resist—On Steroids.” Every Trump tweet becomes a lower third, driving the network’s on-air outrage to new heights. I jokingly told Mark Chesnut, our editor, that I was on my third TV this month because I kept throwing things at CNN. He laughed and suggested I put up a chicken-wire screen in front of it, like a stage in Patrick Swayze’s “Roadhouse” bar.Could it be that CNN is angry because, before Trump, they had the playing field to themselves? Now, an opposing team has them deep inside their own territory, and they don’t like it.
Could it be that CNN is angry because, before Trump, they had the playing field to themselves? Now, an opposing team has them deep inside their own territory, and they don’t like it. Most hypocritical is their never-ending criticism of Trump’s use of Twitter, which CNN celebs are used to flooding with their own version of the day’s events. But, for a politician to talk to the people directly is nothing new; the mainstream media used to complain that Ronald Reagan went around the press to go straight to the people before Twitter was even a thing.
Tapper says Trump doesn’t like to be held accountable, but CNN is liking it even less. In Trump, CNN faces less a politician than a pugilist. In a fight, he never retreats; when punched, he punches back. In the slugfest with CNN, he’s far more right than wrong. He isn’t the first politician to pick fights with “those who buy ink by the barrel,” but he is the first to win (see 2016 Elections). Ironically, it’s CNN’s progressive crusading that has made it possible for him to do so; Trump didn’t create distrust in media, he tapped into it.
As I write this, CNN just went to commercial break with James Earl Jones’ famous line: “CNN: The Most Trusted Name In News.” Sorry, CNN, those days are over … no matter how many times Darth Vader repeats it.
Clay Turner is the creative director for America’s 1st Freedom magazine, an official journal of the NRA, as well as the daily news website, Americas1stFreedom.org. He shoots just enough to maintain an A rating with the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA).