Knee Jerk Reactions
Why does Brian Stelter, who presents himself as an unbiased reporter, push out Media Matters propaganda to his twitter followers? Why does Jim Acosta, another “unbiased” CNN journalist, do the same? Both were quick to retweet this Media Matters gem to a million followers:
Why shouldn’t CNN journalists promote Media Matters tweets, you might ask. In fact Mr. Stelter himself seemed to suggest that Media Matters was being quite neutral:
There are good reasons why journalists shouldn’t treat Media Matters as a “reliable source:”
Hardly anyone who follows the Cable Game is unaware of the antipathy of Media Matters, a partisan hit-site, toward Fox News. They did, in fact, famously wage “war” on Fox:
The [Obama] White House may be in a cold war with Fox News. But Media Matters is on the front lines. Benjamin Sarlin on the latest ways David Brock’s group has hit the right’s house network—and aided the White House counterattacks.
And yet people at CNN still treat their propaganda like dispatches from the Shorenstein Center. In fact CNN is recycling DNC agit-prop, without identifying it as such.
The combined punch of Media Matters, and CNN’s willing accomplices, inflated this tale of running the wrong B-roll into a huge story that got picked up all over the mainstream media. An apology was issued (despite nobody ever claiming that any of the pics were of anthem protests) and doubtless CNN and Media Matters went out for drinks afterward to celebrate another good day’s work. And yet…
And yet…there was something else, spotted by a sharp-eyed twitter user, that never made it into all those mainstream media outlets:
Just like the Fox clip, this was not a protest, but a prayer. But no politically motivated player called it propaganda. Your Cable Gamer asked Stelter and Acosta about it. Neither responded. When CNN’s Oliver Darcy tweeted us we asked him about it too. He also went silent and ignored our question. Despite the undeniable equivalence to the scandalous Fox News pic they had all been outraged about. We scoured the Media Matters site for any criticism of the CNN tweet, without success. But that’s to be expected. They declared war on Fox News, not CNN.
So Fox News had a day of bad publicity over a mistake, a mistake that CNN also made but nobody raised a peep about. We know CNN doesn’t like to report on its own faults, but to team with Media Matters only raises their bias level to 11. MMFA goes after Fox, takes it easy on CNN, and pretty much gives MSNBC a perpetual pass. Such selective outrage is a lousy thing for journalists to take their cues from and it cheapens those who embrace it.
Mr. Henry tried to get others aligned with the Media Matters echo chamber to fess up, but they don’t respond well (or at all) when confronted with inconvenient data:
Your Cable Gamer finishes this story where it began, with CNN’s Brian Stelter. In his Tuesday night newsletter he duly reported the journalistic crime perpetrated by Fox News—while making no mention whatsoever of how CNN had done the exact same thing. That’s pretty much how things work in Zuckertown.