Washington Post Cable Gamer Erik Wemple asks: Dear CNN, are you biased? That title has already been updated to reflect the two-week suspension handed out to reporter Elise Labott, who tweeted criticism of a House bill on refugees:
Mr. Wemple explained why even a single tweet can be damaging to CNN’s brand:
Evenhandedness, mind you, isn’t just a matter of journalistic principle for CNN. It’s a business imperative. Competitors Fox News and MSNBC are “two partisan networks, that are looking out for their viewers,” CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker has said. That split, he has argued, makes CNN ever more “essential” to viewers.
Sure, fine, whatever. But CNN viewers know that the network’s dedication to impartial news gathering and spin-free reporting is not always consistent. Sometimes it depends on who you are:
Sometimes if you’re a big name anchor the powers that be will look the other way. When Chris Cuomo was on his high horse about refugees he chewed out his Republican guest, telling him “There’s a lot of vetting, you know that!” and wagging a rhetorical finger about “compassion.” He famously disputed the notion that sanctuary cities are cities that provide sanctuary (to illegal immigrants). On twitter his history is even more colorful but you can just look at today’s haul for some really loaded terminology:
Compared to Elise Labott’s pictorial rhetoric, Chris Cuomo’s language is far more pointed and partisan. “Your ideas are the problem…Reason over fear and hate…” Cuomo’s viewpoint is not implied via sentimental imagery but stated unambiguously, complete with personal comments about those who disagree with him.
In record time Elise Labott gets suspended for two weeks, but somehow that never happens to Chris Cuomo. Zero-tolerance enforcement is applied sparingly when it comes to the marquee names, the people favored by the higher-ups. Sorry Elise. It’s not fair. It’s Zuckertown.