Something caught The Cable Gamer’s attention on today’s Reliable Sources. However our story begins not with CNN but with The New York Times, reporting on two simultaneous town halls held by Jeb Bush and Donald Trump:
In an apt sign of the enthusiasm imbalance, Fox News at one point cut away from Mr. Bush, midsentence [sic], to focus on an empty lectern awaiting Mr. Trump.
This comment, the only mention of any cable channel in the piece, caught the attention of FNC nemesis Gabriel Sherman:
And his tweet caught the attention of The Cable Gamer; we happened to have been watching Fox News and knew why they cut away:
Then another player entered the game. Greta van Susteren posts:
Note the following: last night during the 7pm hour, we took both Donald Trump’s Town Hall and Governor Jeb Bush’s Town Hall. We had dueling Town Halls to cover.
As best as I can tell, the other two cable competitors at 7pm did not take the Gov Jeb Bush Town Hall like we did but instead covered only Trump. We thought it right to try to do both…
Giving candidates time is not a science—we have to juggle so much. Even last night, we had no idea what time Trump would take to the podium (we heard earlier in the day it would be 7pm but it turned out to be 6:40pm) and we had to likewise guess with Governor Bush.
And this brings us to Reliable Sources, where Brian Stelter devoted the first segment to the press infatuation with Donald Trump:
BRIAN STELTER: What are the effects of the media’s Trump mania? How is it warping the race for the White House? Let’s begin with a moment that illustrates Trump-mania perfectly from FOX News on Wednesday. Watch what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, I’m all in in creating strategies to deal with this. Heroin is particularly —
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: There’s so much going on in New Hampshire tonight. And right now, also New Hampshire GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump drawing a huge crowd. We’re taking you there live coming up. Do not go away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: That’s right. Jeb Bush is talking about addiction when Greta Van Susteren breaks away to show an empty podium for Donald Trump nearby. Now, to Greta’s credit, she was trying to cover Jeb. The other channels of that hour, I don’t think covered Jeb at all.
Here’s where The Cable Gamer throws a flag on the play. Let’s leave aside Brian Stelter repeating the false Times construction that the purpose of cutting away from Jeb was “to show an empty podium.” (It was, as noted in our tweet, to go to a scheduled commercial.) At the outset Stelter told his viewers he had a “perfect” example of “Trump mania.” Now might this be the CNN coverage that has been likened to their “missing plane” obsession? No. How about the MSNBC “endless loop” of Trump? Wrong again. No, his “perfect” example is one where he himself has to condede that Greta, unlike the other channels, was not maniacally focused on Trump. And that’s a “perfect” illustration of Trump mania? Why, just because it was on Fox News?
There are copious examples of media mania over Trump. When you pick one from your former employer (The New York Times) that targets (in a misleading way) Fox News, and what’s more it’s a lousy illustration of your point—well, it makes The Cable Gamer wonder.
Later Fox News came up yet again, when the topic turned to the phraseological furor over “anchor babies.” You guessed it: the only cable news clip shown was from Fox, with Tucker Carlson poo-poohing the controversy. It’s not like there’s a lack of clips from CNN discussing the same issue. Or even more fun, clips of CNN personnel using the term themselves:
- Jim Acosta: …extending that deferred deportations to the parents of children who are green card holders, who are U.S. citizens. These are sometimes referred to as anchor babies in the United States.
- Zoraida Sambolin: Neighbors claim pregnant women in China pay thousands of dollars to come to the United States with legal tourist visas then stay in the maternity center until they give birth. Their so-called anchor babies are then automatically U.S. citizens.
- Lou Dobbs: Do you believe illegal aliens who have anchor babies in the United States should be immune from deportation?
- Anderson Cooper: The truth is we did talk in the interview about illegal immigration and so-called anchor babies and tourist babies and women coming here to give birth illegally.
- Thelma Gutierrez: But immigration attorney Carl Shusterman says the notion of anchor babies is nonsense.
- Soledad O’Brien: Anchor babies, of course, are babies that are born by people who don’t live in the United States. They come and have a baby that then becomes an American citizen and then they leave, but their child has American citizenship.
But enough of that. The Cable Gamer just wanted to make a small point about the default targeting of Fox. She leaves it to the reader to decide if it “illustrates perfectly” anything about CNN.