With very rare exceptions, CNSNews.com reporter Melanie Arter is content to serve as an uncritical stenographer for White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other Trump White House media representatives. That means Arter is on occasion reporting false or misleading information -- and, thus, misleading her readers.
For instance, a March 1 article features a prime bit of regurgitation from Arter:
In an effort to illustrate the “historic obstruction of Senate Democrats,” the White House pointed to acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who is awaiting confirmation by the Senate, as an example of how it affects the safety and security of the American people.
“Earlier this week, I mentioned that we were going to begin regularly highlighting the historic obstruction of Senate Democrats, an issue that threatens the safety and security of the American people,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
“As a reminder, compared to the four previous administrations, this Senate has confirmed the fewest nominees. Half of the president's highly qualified nominees are still waiting on confirmation,” she said.
“Today, we have another example. Two-hundred and seventy-six days ago, Kevin McAleenan was nominated to be commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Kevin's primary responsibility would be to help safeguard American borders, keeping both terrorists and their weapons out of our nation, all while facilitating lawful international trade,” Sanders said.
“Kevin should be preventing terrorists and contraband from entering the nation, yet he is still awaiting Senate confirmation. Senator Schumer should stop putting the safety and security of the American people at risk and immediately confirm him,” she said.
But Sanders -- and, thus, Arter -- omits a critical piece of information. A real news outlet reported that McAleenan had been scheduled for a confirmation hearing last July, but it was "mysteriously postponed" the night before. Why? McAleenan had been accused of having an affair with a subordinate and misappropriating funding. McAleenan was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing, and his confirmation process resumed in October. That's at least three months of the total Sanders (and Arter) cited that cannot possibly be blamed on alleged Democratic obstruction.
Arter served up more dutiful (and redundant) stenography in a March 16 article:
White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short complained Friday of Senate Democrats’ obstruction of President Donald Trump’s nominees, saying at this rate, it will take 11 and a half years for his nominees to be given an up-or-down vote.
In the last four administrations combined, the Senate held 17 cloture votes of presidential nominees compared to the 79 cloture vote in the first 14 months of the Trump administration, Short noted.
“At this point, in the past four administrations combined -- the last four administrations -- the Senate had conducted 17 cloture votes combined - cloture vote, in essence, being a filibuster on a nominee. Seventeen cloture votes in the last four administrations combined, at this point,” Short said.
“Today, the Senate has had 79 cloture votes in the first 14 months of our administration. Seventeen, over the last four administrations, versus 79 in the first 14 months of our administration. That is roughly five times the number of the last four administrations combined,” Short said.
But Arter wasn't moved to research Short's claims beyond repeating them, so she ignored what another real news outlet reported -- that a 2013 change in the confirmation process, in which a simple majority is now needed to confirm a nominee instead of 60 votes before, is likely responsible for the growing number of cloture votes:
Cloture motions on nominations aren’t what they used to be, however. Before the use of the “nuclear option” that changed the filibuster thresholds, the moves to limit debate required bipartisan support except during the brief periods where at least 60 senators were members of the majority caucus.
Legislative issues like infrastructure and immigration would require bipartisan deals to be struck before those bills could reach the floor for consideration (especially since the Senate has no appetite for going nuclear on legislative filibusters).
Arter did it again in a March 29 article:
President Donald Trump on Thursday lashed out at online retail giant Amazon, complaining that they are putting thousands of retailers out of business and pay “little or no” state and local taxes.“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” Trump tweeted.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked Wednesday whether the president was looking for ways to go after Amazon.
“Look, we have no announcements and no specific policies or actions that we're currently pushing forward or considering taking,” she said.
Arter didn't tell her readers that Trump's tweet is factually wrong. the U.S. Postal Service does lose money, but not because of Amazon, since the USPS is required by law to at least break even on its parcel delivery operations. Amazon also collects sales taxes in all 46 states that have one, even though it's not legally required to do so.
If Arter can't be bothered to fact-check anything the Trump White House says and merely acts as a servile stenographer, what good is she as a reporter?