CNN Complains That Mocking the Media Undermines American Democracy, Compares to Saddam Hussein Era in Iraq

CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield and Dylan Byers bemoaned the mocking and distrust of the American media by Republicans and Donald Trump on Friday, with Byers saying it undermined the American political system and Banfield likening it to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

After playing a clip of Trump gleefully telling his audience in New Hampshire on Thursday that his press pool was going to be late, Banfield wondered why the crowd would cheer such news.

"Do people not realize or are they forgetting that other critical element of it?" she asked. "Either you have a media, or you have what I witnessed in Saddam’s era … where you never got to actually call yourself press or you’d go to jail for it."

Byers, CNN’s media reporter, discussed the recent Gallup poll showing only 32 percent of Americans trust the media to report the news accurately. Byers wrote a story saying the drop in trust was "fueled by Republicans," of whom only 14 percent trust the press. His report did not mention recent controversies involving the mainstream press assisting Democrats or left-wing causes through editing techniques, such as Katie Couric’s deceptive documentary edit of gun rights advocates or CBS taking a critical remark out of Bill Clinton’s recent interview about his wife’s health.

Byers said it is a "serious problem" that Trump, who often rips the press, is taking credit for increasing distrust in the media.

"When you start celebrating restriction of the media, when you start mocking the media, that becomes a serious problem for the very foundation of the democratic project and the American political system," he said.

Banfield then suddenly relayed an anecdote of once being ordered by her cab driver to not look directly at Saddam Hussein’s palace in Baghdad.

"I was gobsmacked by the size of it, and my driver yelled at me, ‘Put your eyes forward on the road! Stop looking! We’re going to get in trouble,’" she said. "We were on a freeway, and my driver was terrified that I was staring at Saddam’s palace. So there’s the other side of this."

Banfield will slide over to CNN’s low-rated sister network HLN in October, albeit for a primetime spot.