I was browsing Twitter instead of working today, as is my custom, when this CNN piece caught my eye.
A brief history of how Parkland survivor David Hogg keeps schooling lawmakers on social media https://t.co/XrgoxjISdo pic.twitter.com/WShbJADDIy
— CNN (@CNN) March 29, 2018
I clicked on what I thought might be an interesting op-ed, only to learn that it was written by two straight news reporters, is filed as a news story, and is missing any opinion tag, even though the entire piece is a love letter to a Parkland survivor-turned-gun control activist. The lede gushes that "in under 280 characters, David Hogg has mastered the art of the clapback" and that "as some politicians go online to discredit him and his peers, Hogg proves that no one is more social media savvy than a teenager on a mission."
Here is one exchange highlighted by CNN as a "schooling":
Americans with opposing views can achieve meaningful change together when we reach out to each other & work to find common ground. Linda Schulman & the 16 other #Parkland families are leading by example & making a real difference: https://t.co/8yU9zBPNW6 via @youtube
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 25, 2018
You can too Rubio, by denouncing the NRA or resigning. I'll gladly pay the $1.05 for you to do so. Denounce them and join the revolution, for you know how these people at the NRA scare and manipulate politicians far more than anyone. https://t.co/FLclbOgtDm
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 25, 2018
To my (admittedly biased) eyes, there's nothing particularly objectionable about Rubio's tweet calling for people to reach across the aisle. Hogg responds with bile and demagoguery. That's only a "schooling" in the eyes of someone already inclined to hate the NRA and Rubio.
In isolation, I probably wouldn't have highlighted this instance of media bias. But I bring it up because I've noticed a consistent trend of CNN and CNN personalities eschewing neutrality following the Parkland shooting when the issue of gun control arises.
Take this tweet from February after a bill to ban AR-15s failed to pass the Florida legislature (which again, links to a news article).
Here are the 71 Florida lawmakers — all of them Republicans — who refused to vote for an assault weapons ban, along with their NRA rating https://t.co/5RFJWpMqqf pic.twitter.com/Gf47cRDLf8
— CNN (@CNN) February 21, 2018
This is overt politicking. When you tweet that lawmakers "refused" to vote for X bill, the obviously intended message is that they should have voted for X bill. When you post their NRA ratings, you obviously mean to imply that it was pressure from the NRA that led them to vote that way. Both of which are perfectly fine opinions I suppose, but if that's the stance of CNN's news division, that's a problem.
The attached gif obviously took some effort to make, and it went out from CNN's official Twitter account. This didn't slip through the cracks. Some suit at CNN had no problem signing off on and devoting company resources towards a tweet that wouldn't be out of place coming from the DNC.
It's much the same on air. We had host Chris Cuomo yesterday asking indignantly "Who is calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment?" the day after a retired Supreme Court justice wrote a widely-shared New York Times op-ed arguing just that. When his guest Rick Santorum pointed out this discrepancy, Cuomo insisted the op-ed titled "Repeal the Second Amendment" wasn't actually about repealing the Second Amendment.
Cuomo is something of an opinion host, and is granted some leeway to spout nonsensical takes. But then there was CNN anchor Erin Burnett complaining that politicians "lack courage to stand up to NRA." My understanding is that Burnett is supposed to be a dispassionate journalist, not an activist.
Likewise, anchor Alisyn Camerota took a shot at Rubio for supposedly ignoring the Parkland shooting. "Marco Rubio, who represents Florida and was there at our CNN town hall, he introduced a bill yesterday. It was about Daylight Savings Time. He wants to make it year round. Do you think that helps gun violence?" she scoffed.
Rubio has actually sponsored several bills to address gun violence, including the Senate version of the bill for which Camerota had just praised Democrat Ted Deutsch. Camerota eventually apologized for the jab.
Even CNN's Brian Stelter admitted Monday that when Hogg appeared on Reliable Sources, he made several factual errors that Stelter chose not to correct.
"When I was interviewing David Hogg only 10 days after the massacre, there were a few times I wanted to jump in and say, ‘Let’s correct that fact,'" Stelter told conservative HLN host S.E. Cupp. "And at one of the times I did and other times I did not. There's always that balance, how many times you’re going to interrupt."
I'm sure there are more instances of overt pro-gun control bias in the past month that I've missed. But the fact that I could rattle off five or six off the top of my head without breaking a sweat ought to be a wake-up call for CNN.
Published under: CNN