CNS Brings Its Bias To The Debates
CNSNews.com covered the presidential debates the way you'd expect it to: a pro-Trump, anti-Biden slant with extra damage control after Trump failed to explicitly disavow white supremacists.
By Terry Krepel
CNSNews.com's coverage of the first debate between President Trump and Joe Biden tracks with its usual pro-Trump slant: Statements by Trump were presented without comment, while statements by Biden tended to be rebutted or snarked at with added editorial comment.
First, let's look at the Biden coverage (judged by Biden's prominence in the headline):
CNS published only two Biden-centric debate-related articles that were a relatively straight retelling of what happened:
By contrast, CNS published only three articles that keyed in on comments by Trump as indicated by the headline, and all three simply uncritically repeated what he said:
That's not surprising, given that both were written by chief Trump stenographer Melanie Arter.
Because Trump was not seen to have won the debate, CNS quickly issued a couple attacks on moderator and Fox News host Chris Wallace -- from its favorite right-wing radio host, Mark Levin, and in a blog post by editor Terry Jeffrey complaining that Wallace "personally engaged President Trump in a debate on 'climate change' that lasted for about 3 minutes and 45 seconds."
It was not until more than 18 hours after the end of the debate that CNS bothered to mention the big news from it: Trump's refusal to explicitly disavow white supremacists and his telling the Proud Boys hate group to "stand back and stand by." This being written by Arter, it's written blandly and plays whataboutism by also putting in the headline that Biden said Antifa is "an idea, not an organization."
Cleanup mode again
Once it reported that, though, CNS was forced into damage control, a position it's familiar with.
Craig Bannister complained that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cited an "incomplete quote" of Trump to declare Trump a white supremacist, claiming that "Trump twice answered 'Sure' to [moderator Chris] Wallace’s question about whether he was 'willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups'" constituted an actual condemnation. Jeffrey did the same thing in responding to Nancy Pelosi's claim that Trump "would not disassociate himself" from white supremacists, declaring that "In fact, during the debate when moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he was 'will tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups,' Trump said: 'Sure.'"
Arter did this as well, first noting Joe Biden's post-debate "cease and desist" response to Trump telling the far-right thugs of the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by," and then declaring that "As CNSNews.com previously reported, Trump was asked to condemn white supremacists and militia groups at the presidential debate, to which Trump said, 'Sure, I’m willing to do that. I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not the right wing. I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace.'"
CNS then brought out the big guns: former pro football player Hershel Walker asserting that "Trump is not a racist." This was followed by a reworking by Craig Bannister of a piece from CNS' parent, the Media Research Center (who similarly played damage control over this) counting the "19 times" Trump has denounced racism, huffing that "two days after the first Trump-Biden presidential debate, the media continued to badger Pres. Trump, alleging that he hadn’t yet condemned white supremacists and, in particular, a group called the Proud Boys. And, once again, the president issued a clear, unequivocal condemnation of all racists and racist organizations."
Finally, CNS resorted to Charlie Daniels Jr., who's now writing a column at CNS in place of the one his late father wrote. He sarcastically whined that "the only sensible plan I can think of to allow President Trump to put this to rest once and for all" is that Trump "shall henceforth be required to condemn white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and all forms of racism every hour on the hour for the remainder of his life, and if he fails to do so, everyone will know with absolute certainty that he’s a racist."
Daniels even defended the honor of the thuggish, rage-filled Proud Boys: "the only problem is that they are NOT a white supremacist group. They aren’t even exclusively white. Their leader is -- in fact -- Cuban."
Not a good look, CNS (and Mr. Daniels).
CNS also went surprisingly crankypants on an ideological ally, Fox News correspondent John Roberts, complaining that he "badgered Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany over whether President Trump denounces white supremacy today even though McEnany told him the president did so the day before" and that "Roberts’ wife, Kyra Phillips, was actually one of those Trump personally denounced white supremacy to on Wednesday."
Final debate: same thing
CNS covered the final presidential debate the way it covered the first one: fact-checking, rebuttals and snark for Biden, while Trump got stenography and no fact-checking, even though it put a false Trump claim in a headline.
CNS did a highly biased pro-Trump run-up to the debate. It devoted an entire Oct. 20 article by Jones to regurgitating the Trump campaign's whining about the changes the debate commission made for the final debate -- which included the ability to mute a candidate -- even reproducing the entirety of the "lengthy letter" campaign chairman Bill Stepien sent the commission. Stepien claimed that "the final debate was supposed to focus on foreign policy," but the debate commission never said it would be the sole focus -- an important fact Jones failed to tell her readers.
The same day, Arter uncritically repeated how Trump "criticized the moderator of the upcoming last presidential debate NBC White House Correspondent Kristen Welker, telling Fox News on Tuesday that she’s worse than C-SPAN’s Joe [sic: Steve] Scully, because she has ties to the Democrat [sic] Party." And Goodenough chimed in by claiming that Trump "had a small foretaste" of getting muted at the debate when his microphone went out during a rally, going on to rehash previous Trump campaign criticism of the decision.
After the debate, Goodenough enthusiastically attacked Biden in his usual way that he won't do to Trump, obsessing over how Biden said the U.S. should move to net-aero emissions by 2025, point out how that’s a quarter of a century earlier than the target date set in the Paris climate accords," then adding how "around four minutes later, Biden offered different dates 2035 for “net-zero” emissions in the energy sector, and 2050 as the goal to achieve net-zero emissions overall." Arter followed by making a big deal out of Biden denying that he opposes fracking and to "show the tape" of him saying otherwise, then touting how "Trump obliged" later by "tweet[ing] a video montage of Biden saying he would eliminate fracking."
Trump, of course, got no such scrutiny from CNS. Jones gave space to Trump to reframe Biden's statement that he would transition away from oil as a claim he would "destroy the oil industry," then topped it off with a post-debate comment from a Republican congressman that "Russia and China and India are happy because Joe Biden is going to destroy our economy in the name of saving the environment."
Jones uncritically repeated Trump's claim to Biden that he ran for president in 2016 "because of you. I ran because of Barack Obama, because you did a poor job"-- failing to note that Trump is on the record as saying he did it for himself and his business. Arter, meanwhile, did a piece with the headline claim "Trump: Only ‘Those with the Lowest I.Q.’ Might Come Back to Immigration Court":
President Donald Trump defended his decision to end the practice of catch and release in the last presidential debate in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday against claims by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that illegal immigrants who are released and given a court date show up for immigration court.
Arter didn't tell her readers that Biden was right -- Trump's claim isn't true at all. According to the Department of Justice, more than half of immigrants return for court hearings, far more than the 1% Trump claimed, and there's no evidence intelligence is a factor.
That's how CNS' bias works.