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CNN came under fire for essentially ignoring a story on presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden that was dominating headlines and social media all day.
The network downplayed Biden’s controversial “you ain’t black” remarks for most of Friday, avoiding a story that would have dominated its airtime if the center of the controversy was President Trump. Critics slammed CNN’s lack of coverage as it became the last major news network to report on the incident on the air when it finally provided an interview at the end of the 7 p.m. ET hour.
“Biden remains constructively bunkered by the media from fallout for outrageous comments,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley tweeted Friday, noting the “crickets” coming from CNN.
The former vice president raised eyebrows and set off a firestorm of backlash when he defended his record in an interview on the radio show “The Breakfast Club.”
“I tell you if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” Biden told host Charlamagne tha God.
Biden to black Americans: If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, you ain’t black https://t.co/vNzcNvgKkS
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 22, 2020
After hours of media coverage as Biden’s campaign and surrogates attempted to play down the comments, and as social media hashtags like #YouAintBlack and #JoeBidenIsARacist began trending on Twitter, Biden finally addressed the controversy.
“I’ve never ever taken the African-American community for granted, had their support … I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy. I shouldn’t have been so cavalier,” he said. “I don’t take it for granted at all, and no one, no one should have to vote for any party, based on their race or religion or background.”
ABC, CBS, and NBC all gave the story about one minute of coverage, according to the Media Research Center, which noted that “NBC anchor Lester Holt dismissed the whole thing in 21 seconds.” CNN, however, was still “MIA.”
Since Biden made his “you ain’t black” comments, it’s been mentioned in five articles in WaPo, three NYT articles, two MSNBC segments, and five Fox News segments.
CNN segments? Zero.
They did, however, have time to interview Yo-Yo Ma pic.twitter.com/ZzracmXhGn
— Watchdog (@LibWatchdog) May 22, 2020
“Fascinating to watch how the left-leaning cable networks have covered Biden’s ‘you ain’t black’ comment. MSNBC has discussed it nearly every hour… CNN hasn’t mentioned it once,” former CNN digital producer Steve Krakauer tweeted.
Fascinating to watch how the left-leaning cable networks have covered Biden’s “you ain’t black” comment.
CNN hasn’t mentioned it once. pic.twitter.com/InRhcMkTUD
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) May 22, 2020
Hours after the storm erupted, CNN finally brought itself to cover the story when host Erin Burnett interviewed Charlamagne, who discussed Biden’s track record with America’s black community. He appeared to avoid leveling the scathing condemnation others were heaping on Biden for his “you ain’t black” remarks.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 23, 2020
But the CNN interview was too little too late for many who slammed the biased network for avoiding the issue all day.
“It’s been over 5 HOURS since Biden told Black people they ‘ain’t black’ if they support @realDonaldTrump. How many times has CNN mentioned his bigoted comment on air? ZERO. Unreal,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted Friday afternoon.
Donald Trump Jr. responded by calling CNN out as “total hacks in the tank” for Biden.
I see that @CNN is not even trying to pretend anymore that they’re anything but total hacks in the tank for @JoeBiden and the Democrat Party. They’re not fooling anyone, they should just go ahead and register as an official Biden Super PAC at this point! https://t.co/3SUrRcQocZ
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 22, 2020
“The bias is unbelievable,” McDaniel tweeted later, slamming the network for taking “12 HOURS to mention Joe Biden’s bigoted remark on air.”
It took CNN 12 HOURS to mention Joe Biden’s bigoted remark on air.
We all know that if a Republican made a similar comment, CNN would have reworked their entire day of programming to feature 9-person panels condemning it.
The bias is unbelievable.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) May 23, 2020
CNN’s lack of coverage is because it “has been in the tank for Biden for over a year,” the co-founder of the progressive media outlet Status Coup, Jordan Chariton, told Fox News.
“They dragged their feet on many stories related to him including him lying on being arrested in apartheid South Africa on his way to meeting Nelson Mandela,” Chariton said. “Outlets like CNN are protectors of the status quo and as such, they will always try and cover up bad stories for candidates like Biden rather than cover and challenge him.”
NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck argued that the network’s avoidance of the controversy was no accident.
“When you take into account how both MSNBC covered this repeatedly and Biden decided to issue a mea culpa, you’re left with no conceivable excuse for CNN other than they did so on purpose,” Houck told Fox News.
“Instead, they decided that trashing the administration for allowing houses of worship to reopen and gleefully touting negative hydroxychloroquine headlines were jobs one and two,” he added.
“CNN has their insane way of going about their newsgathering, presentation and selection,” Houck said. “But ignoring a story like this for hours and hours reminds us that their demands that other news organizations act like they do should not only be dismissed but laughed out of the room.”
The criticism continued to pour out on Twitter as others slammed the network as well.
“CNN’s job is to cover important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving,” Team Trump tweeted.
“Are you surprised?” actor James Woods asked.
CNN doesn’t even seem to be pretending any more. https://t.co/Ab1li2VV3y
— Brit Hume (@brithume) May 23, 2020
“All you can do is shake your head. The news business is so badly damaged,” former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted.
“For three years I’ve listened to the Democrats call President @realDonaldTrump racist, and yet @CNN downplays @JoeBiden’s racist comments,” former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerick wrote.
CNN is not news.
They are a 24/7 Joe Biden comms shop.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) May 22, 2020
Why did CNN avoid covering the Biden controversy all day yesterday?
— Blanco La Flare (@GrapplingMantis) May 23, 2020
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