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CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter convened a panel of journalists on Sunday to discuss the alleged outsized negative influence right-leaning media has on the nation’s political conversation and the campaign of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
But during the discussion, no one on the panel — including Stelter, who routinely criticizes President Donald Trump and Republicans — acknowledged CNN’s own palpable bias.
“Negative partisanship — it kind of explains everything about what’s broken in our media environment because there’s all of these media outlets, all of these talk radio stars and TV shows, that are just constantly attacking, fueling hatred of the other side,” Stelter said.
“Am I right to say this happens on the left and the right, but that it’s more severe on the right?” Stelter said, tossing the question to Nicole Hemmer, author of the book, “Messengers of the Right.”
“Yes, I would say it’s more severe on the right currently, in part because the right just has a longer tradition of these overtly ideological media outlets,” she began, predictably. “There is this sort of habit of attacking Democrats that goes back pretty far back, if you look at, like, the 1990s, in the way that Rush Limbaugh and others sharpened their teeth on [then-President] Bill Clinton.
“This has been the way they built audiences for three decades now,” she added.
“Yeah, I don’t wanna claim it’s new, I just am arguing that it’s getting worse,” Stelter responded.
Moving on to Errin Haines, editor-at-large of the new start-up media site The 19th, Stelter’s tone-deafness continued.
“When you see entire media companies exist essentially to tear down Joe Biden, is there an equivalent on the left tearing down Trump?” he asked.
“There really isn’t, and what I would say is, it’s really a diet of this type of information that a lot of these voters are getting,” she said.
“A lot of the voters that I talk to when I interview them, I do hear them saying a lot of the talking points that sound very familiar from some of these shows that I try to listen to when I’m out on the campaign trail,” Haines continued.
“You can hear these comments being echoed by voters and you know that this is the diet that they’re on, you know, AM radio, you know, conservative talk, also social media,” she noted further — apparently unaware that the major social media platforms have been ‘fact-checking’ President Trump and removing or banning conservative users and content.
“I mean, the Trump campaign is running a full-blown campaign that is completely off the radar for a lot of regular media,” said Haines, though harnessing the power and influence of social media to bolster a campaign was first done in 2008 by the Obama team.
“If that’s all they’re getting to the exclusion of the, kind of the more traditional legacy media, it’s really kind of no surprise of what [Trump voters’] understanding is of this country and our politics,” Haines added.
David Zurawik, a media critic for the Baltimore Sun, was even more tone-deaf, offering effusive praise for Twitter and Facebook fact-checking and censoring Trump’s comments and those of his campaign — but not those of Biden.
Zurawik complained about the Federal Communication Commission’s lack of regulatory action against conservative talk radio, while suggesting that “right-wing” hosts are somehow violating broadcast rules and should be reprimanded for their views.
He also labeled Trump supporters on the air as “sycophants” and that conservatives pre-Trump used to be “honorable.”
“Well, the Biden-bashing’s going to go on for three more months,” Stelter said.
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