Democrats Face Bias At CNS
Whether it's skewed headlines or "news" articles that editorialize, CNSNews.com is not terribly interested in offering fair and balanced coverage to Democratic politicians.
By Terry Krepel
CNSNews.com's mission statement includes a statement that it endeavors to "put a higher premium on balance than spin." One only has to look at its coverage of Democratic politicians to see how untrue that is.
More often than not, CNS' coverage of Democrats introduces bias by pulling a quote out of context to put in a headline that misleads about the content, even when that content isn't egregiously biased. CNS also has no problem using ostensible "news" articles to editorialize, usually bashing the Democrat being covered and injecting pro-Trump bias.
CNS has long done this of course; it regularly attacked President Obama and Hillary Clinton, and most recently it served up highly skewed coverage of Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.)
Let's look at some of the other current victims of CNS' anti-Democratic bias.
Susan Jones wrote in a July 5 article:
Former Vice President Joe Biden, now making a third run for his party's presidential nomination, seemed to raise the possibility that he may not make it this time, either.
This is under the meaningless teaser headline "Biden: 'Whether or Not I'm Your Nominee...'"
Of course, Jones is simply apply her own right-wing bias to Biden's words. Biden is simply saying that the goal of the Democrats is to oust President Trump in 2020, and he's realistic enough to note that while he may or may not be that person, keeping eyes on the prize is the important thing.
But in Jones' biased eyes, acknowledging reality gets twisted into a suggestion he's not really serious about running for president or is expecting to lose.
The same day that article was published she wrote another one that, while labeled "news," was in truth little more than a Biden-bashing, pro-Trump editorial.
Jones began by noting a July 4 speech by Biden in which he said that Trump "is incapable of celebrating what makes America great because I don't think he gets it." Then the editorializing began with Jones writing:
Hours later, under rainy skies on the Mall, President Trump did indeed celebrate what makes America great.
After a long excerpt from Trump's speech, Jones editorialized against Biden, claiming he "recited the familiar Democrat litany of various injustices heaped on the middle class and the working class." She concluded by whining; "And so it went, as Americans in Iowa listened to what's wrong with Trump's America -- and Americans on the Mall listened to Trump tell them what's so right."
But if Trump was all about telling people "what's so right" with Trump's America, his speech wasn't exactly as "nonpartisan" as Jones claims, was it? Further, at no point did Jones refute any of the claims Biden made -- she simply mocked them as a "Democrat [sic] litany."
As a right-wing "news" outlet whose first duty is to advance conservative narratives over reporting the news, CNSNews.com has been pushing negative coverage of Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and trying to find ways to attack her. For instance, a Dec. 4 column by the Heartland Institute's Justin Haskins, coming shortly after her election, insisted that Ocasio-Cortez's claim that insurance companies effectively act as "death panels" by not covering certain conditions by insisting 1) they don't do that, and 2) a person can easily find an insurance company that does. (Haskins seems unaware that many Americans are locked into an employer's insurance and can't shop around.)
Of course, CNS is not above taking cheap shots at Ocasio-Cortez. For instance, an anonymously written Jan. 14 post highlighted Ocasio-Cortez's struggle to find an affordable place to live in Washington while she's serving in Congress, snarkily adding that she "is now being paid a salary of $174,000 as a member of Congress." CNS didn't say when her first paycheck would arrive --presumably after she started her job, not before -- or mention that housing in Washington is notoriously expensive (which CNS should know, given that it's headquartered in suburban D.C.).
(A couple days later, CNS disdainfully noted that Ocasio-Cortez had been named to the House Financial Services Committee. But as CNS itself acknowledged way back in July 2018 when it complained she was "tweeting about income equality -- obliquely," she has a degree in economics.)
On Jan. 15, Melanie Arter gave space to a right-wing comedian who complained he can't make unfunny jokes about liberals like Ocasio-Cortez:
During an appearance on Fox News’ “Greg Gutfield” show, comedian Jimmy Failla complained that society has taken political correctness too far.
Arter didn't explain why this was funny.
Craig Bannister gleefully wrote in a Feb. 20 CNS blog post:
On Wednesday, a billboard in New York’s Times Square criticizing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for having opposed Amazon’s plans, which Amazon has now cancelled, to open a headquarters in the city, began a one-week run.
But Bannister was curiously silent on a conflict of interest he should have disclosed. As Ocasio-Cortez noted in a tweet responding to the billboard (and Mediaite further detailed), the Job Creators Network is funded by the Mercer family, which has their money all over right-wing politics.
And CNS' parent, the Media Research Center, is heavily funded by the Mercers as well -- as ConWebWatch documented, the Mercers are the single largest MRC donor, providing one-fourth of its annual budget, and a member of the family, Rebekah Mercer, sits on the MRC's board of directors.
An honest writer would have disclosed that. Bannister has not proven that he is one.
Meanwhile, an anonymously written March 1 article pulled a line by AOC out of context in the headline -- "Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: ‘I’m the Boss!’" -- and in the lead: "At an event at the New York Hall of Science on Feb. 22, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described why it was important for her to have introduced her Green New Deal, saying: 'I’m the boss.'"
It's not until later that CNS gets around to putting the statement in context, revealing it to be much less braggodocius than it was portrayed in the headline and lead paragraph:
“I just introduced Green New Deal two weeks ago and it is creating all of this conversation. Why?” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Because no one else has even tried. Because no one else has even tried. So people are like: Oh, it’s unrealistic. Oh, it’s vague. Oh, it doesn’t address this little minute thing.
Another anonymously written article -- funny how no writer at CNS wants to put their names on these hit pieces, isn't it? -- carries the headline "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: ‘What We Need to Do is Have a Serious Conversation’ About Cow Flatulence." But the article makes it clear she didn't say exactly that:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D.-N.Y.) said in a March 29 appearance on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes” that Americans “need to have a serious conversation” about climate change, including the contribution being made to it by “cow flatulence.”
In other words, there's notable distance between "serious conversation" and "cow flatulence." But CNS' narrative on AOC is to make her look ridiculous, not accurately report the facts.
There was one attack on AOC to which the writer did volunteer to be identified, though. A Feb. 15 piece by managing editor Michael W. Chapman lectured her: "Although nearly all the major studies on habitual marijuana use show a strong link between its consumption and mental illness, including schizophrenia, and violence, House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said it's perfectly fine if a president of the United States smokes dope because 'you're not hurting anybody.' The 29-year-old self-declared socialist added, 'yeah, I don't care.'" Indeed, most of Chapman's piece is reciting "bulleted highlights" from author Alex Berenson's speech at the right-wing Hillsdale College about "his findings on teenage marijuana use and its link to mental illness and violence."
Chapman didn't mention that the author didn't exactly help his case by giving his book the same title as the original title of the notoriously insane and paranoid anti-marijuana propaganda film "Reefer Madness" -- or that his book has been largely dismissed as inaccurate and alarmist.
A June 14 article by Susan Jones on Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro carried the headline "Castro Tells Woman Whose Social Security Number Was Stolen: 'Crime Happens'." Judging by the headline alone, you'd think that Castro was being callous and dismissive toward the woman's concerns.
Let me begin to answer that question by saying, look, all of us know as human beings that regardless of circumstance, whether people are rich, or poor, no matter the color of their skin, what their background is, that people commit crime. Crime happens.
Despite the headline, Jones' real purpose was to attack Castro for failing to hate illegal immigrants the way she does, since the question was framed as coming from "a woman who said an illegal immigrant stole her Social Security Number" and Jones was determined to suggest that all illegal immigrants are hardened criminals.
Jones huffed at the end in defense of her hero: "President Trump continually rails against 'open-borders Democrats' in Congress who refuse to fix the nation's broken immigration laws."
Between the headline and the story itself, Castro was victimized by two different types of media bias from CNS.