CNN political analyst April D. Ryan was widely mocked over the weekend for touting an "exclusive" "scoop" about President Joe Biden's forthcoming Supreme Court nomination.
Ryan reported the "breaking" news on Sunday, writing that Biden's announcement "could come as early as tomorrow or as late as the end of the month." There was no announcement on Monday, probably due to the fact that Russia decided to invade Ukraine on a Democratic president's watch for the second time in eight years.
As many observers pointed out, Biden's intention to announce a nominee by the end of this month was already a widely known fact. "Biden plans to name Breyer's successor by the end of February," the New York Times reported on Jan. 28. Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel, among others, mocked the CNN analyst for "packing a month-old fact as a scoop."
Social media users piled on in the replies to Ryan's initial post on Twitter. Many echoed Weigel's assessment that the news was neither "breaking" nor a "scoop." One remarked: "Pretty shoddy journalism when Biden himself said his deadline was by the end of February." Another responded: "That's a scoop? Dear God!! Are we lacking in news? What's wrong with these reporters?"
CNN hired Ryan in 2017 several days after she got into a verbal altercation with then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer during a briefing. She also reports for theGrio, a digital media outlet formerly owned by NBC News. In recent years, Ryan has been repeatedly criticized for using her media platform as a so-called journalist to engage in partisan activism.
In October 2019, then-candidate Pete Buttigieg announced that Ryan would be moderating a "grassroots fundraising event" for his presidential campaign. Weeks earlier, Ryan attended the Congressional Black Caucus dinner as Buttigieg's invited guest and posted a selfie with the candidate on Instagram. After a barrage of criticism regarding the dubious ethics of a journalist actively helping a politician raise money, Ryan was forced to withdraw from the event. Buttigieg's support among black voters never rose above "statistically insignificant" levels throughout the primary campaign.
In December 2020, Ryan was ridiculed for suggesting that journalists should not report on leaked information involving Biden. Ryan's controversial remarks came in response to leaked audio from Biden's meeting with civil rights leaders, in which the then-president-elect appeared to criticize the "defund the police" movement. "The question is who leaked this and why?" Ryan wrote on Twitter, referring to reports on the leaked audio.
Edward Ongweso Jr., a reporter for Motherboard, appeared to sarcastically mock Ryan's concern, writing, "It is irresponsible and sets a dangerous precedent for journalists covering the incoming administration to be able to use secretly recorded conversations in their stories. To parse out Biden's thoughts and anticipate his policy commitments, you must go through proper channels."
The sarcasm was lost on Ryan, who replied to Ongweso's tweet in earnest, writing, "You hit the nail in the head! This is not good at all!" The Motherboard journalist continued the gag, and Ryan "liked" his subsequent tweet that mockingly suggested that "revealing a contradiction between Biden's private thoughts and public statements is dangerous because it erodes public trust in the President, the Office, and the media itself." Journalist Glenn Greenwald said Ryan's comments were "one of the most shocking things I've seen on this website."
In addition to her opposition to reporting on Democratic presidents, Ryan is best known for the time one of her bodyguards harassed and assaulted an actual journalist in New Brunswick, N.J., where Ryan was giving a speech. The journalist, New Brunswick Today editor Charlie Kratovil, said he was a fan of Ryan and had simply wanted to record the speech, but was prevented from doing so by the aggressive bodyguard, who was subsequently charged with assault after forcibly removing Kratovil from the venue. "When I speak, I don't have news covering my speech," Ryan told the audience in an effort to explain the commotion.