CNN is a respectable and professional news organization. Let’s get that out of the way. The network has taken a bashing since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, who has decried it as “fake news.” I don’t wish to contribute to that narrative at all. CNN employs great journalists who are honest and ethical in their reporting, notwithstanding the occasional slip-up.
Yes, it is excessively commercialized and hocks every pharmaceutical product under the sun during ad breaks. But that doesn’t detract from the work of its journalistic staff.
I have watched CNN for as long as I can remember. Even as a young boy, I recall sitting with my father on the couch watching Dan Rather and Connie Chung on TV. The channel is a go-to for me whenever there is breaking news. Many of their analysts, like Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters and Jeffrey Toobin, are deeply qualified. I appreciate its employees’ journalism. I appreciate many of its staff’s opinions.
In fact, networks like CNN are more important than ever. The current president is a liar in the most extreme sense of the word. The press is one of the only parts of American democracy that holds him to account.
But CNN is losing my attention — and presumably that of many others.
The CNN Model
CNN’s television model for each program is similar:
1. Introduce the news
2. Interview somebody about it
3. Discuss it with the panel of experts
The third segment — discussing the news with a panel of experts — is ostensibly to flesh out the subject. Usually, there will be at least one conservative voice at the table.
In reality, this segment exists to occupy airtime. After all, it’s a 24/7 network. Something has to be on TV at all times. But it often does provide valuable insight, despite the fact that it’s meant to be filler material.
However, I often turn off the channel as soon as that third segment comes on. I become frustrated, annoyed and cannot watch any longer.
CNN Hires Professional Liars
Instead of solely inviting conservative intellectuals to the panel, CNN invariably brings on professional liars who are there to propagandize. For the past three years, I’ve watched people like Paris Dennard, Rick Santorum, Jeffrey Lord and Jason Miller twist themselves into pretzels to defend Donald Trump.
Each episode, they yell their wild opinions into the camera in spite of objective facts. They serve as mouthpieces for their respective employers, rather than being on CNN to deliver thoughtful commentary. In many cases, they seek the attention of the president, himself — an avid television consumer. These kinds of people are circus animals, not analysts.
One Can Legitimately Defend Trump
To be clear, this is not about disliking Trump. I applaud CNN’s attempt to invite conservative commentators. People like Bill Kristol and Max Boot, who are longtime conservative analysts, are welcome voices of reason. It is quite possible to defend Donald Trump and the Republican party on many policy issues.
But CNN loses me when they bring on professional liars. These women and men will vomit anything — the facts be damned — so long as they can publicly support Trump. One of them, Matt Whitaker, later became the acting Attorney General thanks in large part to his incessant presidential praise.
In my view, there is no difference between these people and the bots used by the Russian government to promote fake news about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. They each serve a singular purpose: to peddle propaganda.
What About CNN’s Liberal Commentators?
Indeed, CNN’s liberal commentators are also often biased. Symone Sanders, for instance, used to work for democratic socialist Bernie Sanders (no relation, obviously). They hate Trump and make their opinions known. They frequently engage in shouting matches with their conservative counterparts.
However, CNN’s liberal commentators are not spitting out bald-faced lies. They have clear political persuasions and motivations, they get things wrong, but their jobs are not to promote falsehoods.
Why Does CNN Do This?
In short: it makes for good TV. Viewers love the freak show of angry liberals against angry conservatives. It’s the same idea as those channels that film obese people, midgets, hoarders and families with 15 children.
I would love to watch more conservative thinkers on CNN. I wish the network would get rid of those morally devoid conmen who only seek fame, fortune and presidential attention. Until then, I’ll keep switching channels each time their discussion segments come on.