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Adventures in Watching CNN

by Donald A. Tevault


"Media bias in editorials and columns is one thing. Media fraud in reporting 'facts' in news stories is something else. ...The issue is not what various journalists or news organizations' editorial views are. The issue is the transformation of news reporting into ideological spin, along with self-serving taboos and outright fraud."
--Thomas Sowell

I'll say it up front--

I never watch CNN because I choose to. The only time I ever watch CNN is when I just happen to be some place where someone else is watching it. Such was the case on Thanksgiving day of year 2000, when I visited my aunt up in Alpharetta, Georgia. In a very short period of time, I pointed out to her several instances of blatantly biased reporting.

The anchors were a reporter--whose name I didn't catch--and a reporter-ette named Carol Lin. The topic of the day, of course, was the chad-counting in Florida.

  • First up, they showed a video of the Republican demonstrators in Miami. This was supposed to be a news segment, not a commentary segment. But, these two didn't properly report about this event. Nobody tried to interview any of the demonstrators to find out what they were really upset about. Instead, they offered up their own commentary--without any proof--that the demonstrators were simply trying to pressure the Miami canvassing board into not continuing with their hand-counts. They gave no reason why the demonstrators would want to stop the count. So, they left the impression that the demonstrators just didn't want all votes to count. In reality, these demonstrators were upset that the Florida Supreme Court--known for its judicial activism--had overturned a law that had been properly passed by the Florida legislature, and replaced it with its own arbitrary law. Nobody would ever know that by watching CNN. And, nobody who watches CNN would even know that the Florida legislature created this particular law for a reason--to prevent the opportunity for vote-tampering.

  • The scene switched to the counting room in Broward County. There, we were treated to witnessing the Three Wise Folk who were trying to divine who voters really intended to vote for. The room appeared to be fairly crowded, with both politicians and members of the news media. When the cameras switched back to our two intrepid news anchors, the male of the species said, 1"Did you see the crowd in that room. I don't see any possible way that any cheating could be going on in there." There was nary a mention of the three eyewitnesses to alleged cheating, let alone any effort to get their side of the story. And, had they continued watching, they just might have seen some efforts to cheat.

  • After this, the octogenarian inventor of the "Votamatic" machine was shown testifying before one of the Florida canvassing boards. He contended that since the spots used for the presidential candidates are used more than any of the other spots, perhaps the machines were worn in those spots and were making it hard for people to push their styluses all the way through. According to him, that would cause the "dimpled" chads that the voting officials are now trying to count. That sounds a bit fishy to me, since I don't understand what there could possibly be to wear out on this type of machine. On my way back to the teeming metropolis of St. Marys on Friday, I picked up Chuck Harder's "For the People" program on the car radio. He's convinced--though until I see further proof, I only consider it a theory--that the dimpled chads are a product of vote tampering. Mr. Harder insists that the dimples are created when a crooked poll worker--one who's pressed for time--inserts more than one card at a time into a Votamatic and tries to punch all of them at once. But, the point is that the CNN folk didn't try to dig into this, either. They simply reported the side that was favorable to their point of view.

    (Of course, there is a way to test both of these theories, but nobody has suggested it. Drag out some of these Votamatics, stick some ballot cards into them, and test them out to see if they really are working properly. And, just for fun, try out Chuck Harder's theory. Stick two, three or more cards in at a time, try to punch them all at once and see what happens.)

  • Just before my aunt and I got too disgusted to watch any more, Gore campaign spokesman Doug Hattaway called in to be interviewed. He was allowed to present his side of the case, without any challenge from the CNN anchors. In fact, the reporter-ette was so sweet to him, it was almost sickening. And, nobody was allowed on to present the other side of the story.

CNN presents itself as a news channel. But, it isn't. There's a difference between news and news commentary. News is supposed to be fact, and commentary is supposed to be opinion. There's a place for presenting opinion in the news business, but not when presenting hard news. CNN, for the most part, either unquestioningly presents Democratic party positions as the gospel truth, or they present their own opinions as news.

It was an easy sell to convince my aunt of CNN's deficiencies. Indeed, she had already begun seeing them herself. I convinced her to give Fox News Channel a try, but we couldn't find it as we flipped through the channels. Later that night, some friends came over, and we explained our dilemma to them. "Oh", they said, "you need to do an auto-reprogam of your cable box to find any channels that have been added lately." We did, and finally found the Fox.2

My aunt is now very grateful for helping her find a decent source of news.

1I'm going from memory here, so these quotes may not be in their exact wording. But, the gist is there.

2No, I have not received any fiancial compensation from Fox News Channel for writing this article.

    See also:

  • CNN refuses to settle 'Tailwind' case
    $100 million lawsuit claims network defamed U.S. soldiers.
    By Jon Dougherty
  • See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil
    Barbara Simpson explains why she will never trust CNN again.
  • Silence of the CNN Lambs
    We try hard to not write about themes already commented upon by many others. But CNN's kowtowing to the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein over the last dozen years was so deplorable, despicable and disgusting that we find it necessary to chime in.
    by Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., and Robert J. Cihak, M.D.
  • CNN Publishes Obits of Reagan, Cheney
    CNN can't seem to do anything right these days. Faces there are redder than usual today after the company's Web site published obituaries of Vice President Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (that must have been a maudlin one) and other VIPs.
  • CNN Most Untrusted Name in News
    Wolf Blitzer, who usually does a fine job, for most of a week failed to report that Jessica Lynch was rescued because Mohammed, an Iraqi, told the Marines where to locate her.
    by Wilson C. Lucom
  • Corrupted News Network
    There was a time when CNN was a reliable 24/7 news channel for the most up-to-date information on fast-moving world events.
    by Gary Aldrich
  • Cross-Examining Jordan
    Eason Jordan's admission of complicity with Saddam's regime raises a host of questions that must be answered by CNN.
    by Hugh Hewitt
  • CNN's Access of Evil
    The network of record covered Saddam's repression with propaganda.
  • Jordan and the real CNN story
    Tom Marzullo reveals network's sordid history of covering up the truth.

cover Setting the World Ablaze : Washington, Adams, Jefferson and the American Revolution
Setting the World Ablaze is the story of the three men who, perhaps more than any others, helped bring the United States into being: George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Weaving their three life stories into one narrative, John E. Ferling delivers a genuine and intimate illustration of them and, in doing so, gives us a new understanding of the passion and uncertainty of the struggle to form a new nation.
cover Scandalmonger : A Novel
Scandalmonger is the 25th book from William Safire, the prolific, feisty New York Times columnist and word wrangler. It's a historic novel set in 1790s New England, when the Founding Fathers were enduring various crises and humiliations as they scurried to become part of the history books. Always a stickler for the truth--as long as it's uttered in the finest of phrases--the author lets us know right from the start that we're "entitled to know what is history and what is twistery." Based on documents and diaries, and complete with an exhaustive section of footnotes separating fact from fiction, Scandalmonger turns out to be a bona fide page-turner. Safire knows what he's doing; he knows he has a lesson to teach. It's a lesson about how early America wasn't much different from Clinton's America--the temptations of mistresses, the power struggles, the ridiculous debates about purity between corrupt men being just as present. If he has one message, it is this: within every powerful politician, there is a dirty-minded second grader trying to get out. Witness this scene between two outraged congressmen who seem intent on "turning the House into a 'gladiators' arena'"

2000 Truth In News Press