CNS Bias In Action: A Tale Of Two Presidents
CNSNews.com's coverage of President Biden is much more harsh than it was for Donald Trump on the exact same issues.
By Terry Krepel
The Media Research Center's "news" division, CNSNews.com, has a highly biased pattern of nitpicking President Biden on things that it has given Donald Trump a pass on. That hasn't stopped as Biden's presidency continued -- indeed, it has exacerbated to the point of showing how much harshly CNS has treated Biden on the same issues that it gave Donald Trump fawning coverage on, when it was covered at all.
On Sept. 24, CNSNews.com published part of a rant by Chris Jacobs headlined "Politico Published 20 Stories About Trump’s Taxes And Only 1 About Joe Biden’s." CNS only published the first few paragraphs, but the rest is at right-wing site The Federalist, where Jacobs' thinking goes awry:
I examined Politico, a publication many “inside-the-Beltway” types read. It showed a yawning gap between coverage of Joe Biden’s tax affairs compared to coverage of his predecessor.
As Jacobs seems to concede but won't explicitly admit, the lesson here is that Trump's refusal to release his taxes made news outlets want to report on them, whereas Biden made his taxes public like every other presidential candidate of the past 40-plus years, thus making it a non-issue for him. Yet Jacobs made an attempt to justify his double standard:
I won’t argue the legal controversies about Trump’s taxes aren’t newsworthythey clearly are. I have also previously stated that Trump should have released his taxes as president, and should get held to the same legal standard as everyone else if he did in fact violate any tax laws.
Jacobs went on to complain that Biden was a hypocrite for taking advantage of tax deductions and loopholes he has proposed eliminating. But that's just a lame gotcha -- rich right-wingers will tell you that nobody is legally obligated to pay more taxes than mandated. Indeed, other rich people have used the same loophole that Biden did, and Jacobs isn't lashing out at them. That's the real hypocrisy -- Jacobs can't prove Biden broke the law (because he didn't), so he has to attack Biden on something, anything.
We're willing to bet that Jacobs has never complained about Trump's absolute refusal to release his taxes the way he has nitpicked Biden's actual release.
"You built the country," President Joe Biden told union workers in Howell, Michigan on Tuesday. "No, not a joke. You have built the country," he said.
Jones did not explain why she considered this revelation to be deserving of a "news" article. We don't recall Jones or anyone else at CNS devoting an article to Donald Trump's numerous verbal tics and malapropisms in the same way she's going after Biden here, with the apparent intent to make CNS' right-wing audience swallow its long-running narrative that the president is sinking further into "cognitive decline."
Jones also slipped a partisan political attack in her supposedly objective "news" article: "Biden, who was greeted by hundreds of protesters on the ride from the airport, insisted that his physical infrastructure bill and his much larger social agenda bill are not divisive." Actually, Biden's infrastructure bill had broad support among Americans.
Megan Williams tried to work up some outrage over security-related work at a beach house owned by Biden in an Oct. 25 CNS article -- while also parroting a right-wing newspaper's doxxing the president in the process:
Despite the ongoing crisis at the southern border, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allocated $456,548 to a Delaware construction company to build a fence around President Joe Biden’s beach house in Rehoboth, Delaware, the New York Post reported.
In fact, experts have stated that a border wall does little to enhance U.S. security or to stop immigrants from entering the country -- something that Williams didn't see fit to report to her readers.
Note that Williams is irrelevantly comparing work at the Biden house to "the ongoing crisis at the southern border" -- a cheap and easy political shot -- when a more direct apples-to-apples comparison would be to security work done at Donald Trump's properties during his presidency. And as it so happens, a contract was recently awarded to spend $580,600 -- bigger than on Biden's security measures -- on security upgrades at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. (And Trump isn't even president anymore!) Williams didn't see fit to report that either.
Instead, Williams went on to further blame issues at the border on Biden:
CPB seized 10,586 pounds of fentanyl in the 2021 fiscal year, over four times the amount found during the last year of the Trump Administration.
But doesn't the fact that the fentanyl was seized indicate that the "crisis" is being "addressed"? Also, Williams' numbers are misleading. An actual fact-checker looked into them:
“The stuff that’s seized at the southwest border is highly impure,” Bryce Pardo, a drug policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, told FactCheck.org in an interview. If they are seizing 10,000 pounds, the amount of pure fentanyl is a small fraction of that, he said.
It should also be noted that Williams was CNS' fall 2021 intern. It appears that CNS was teaching her how to spin right-wing narratives instead of fairly and accurately reporting the news.
CNS did something similar the following month.
Back in 2018, ConWebWatch documented how CNS served as a servile stenographer for right-wing legal group Judicial Watch -- at least 46 articles that year alone. After a couple years of relative inactivity because Judicial Watch was giving Trump's corruption a pass -- indeed, Judicial Watch was such a Trump stan that CNS published an article after the 2020 election featuring Judicial Watch leader Tom Fitton embracing Trump's Big Lie by ranting that "'Joe Biden is not 'president-elect'' despite what the liberal media claim, and they do not have the constitutional authority to declare the winner of a presidential election."
But it appears CNS is firing up that Judicial Watch stenography machine again. An anonymous "CNSNews.com Staff Writer" wrote in a Nov. 18 article:
A new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) report from Judicial Watch shows that the Secret Service's travel costs for President Joe Biden to go to his home in Delaware, and several other domestic stops, total at least $2,252,600.50.
The anonymously written article was conveniently lacking context -- specifically, any mention of a certain former president who liked to spend his weekends away from the White House. After all, doing so would make Biden look good by comparison. If was reported that Trump's weekend trips to Florida's Mar-a-Lago -- of which Trump made four during the first three months of his presidency alone -- cost about $3 million each, or the total of Biden's trips to Delaware over the first seven months of his presidency.
The funny thing is, Judicial Watch tracked Trump's travel expenses too, which is also omitted from the CNS article -- and, curiously, from the Judicial Watch press release that was rewritten for this CNS article. Perhaps that's because Judicial Watch found that Trump's travel expenses in the first year of his presidency surpassed $13 million, a pace that far outstripped Biden's expenses. CNS dedicated no article exclusively to Trump's huge travel expenses; instead, a November 2017 article by managing editor Michael W. Chapman hyped that "travel expenses for President Barack Obama and his family totals $114.6 million, including trips in 2017," adding as an aside that "travel costs for President Donald Trump and his family, so far, total $10.3 million."
The Biden nitpicking continued in a Nov. 22 article by Craig Bannister:
President Joe Biden has added one more exaggeration to his growing list of embellishments.
Bannister went on to quote from a Fox News article noting "Biden’s past dubious claims."
Meanwhile, the very next day, an article Susan Jones started by bashing Biden's decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, scoffing that it "may lower fuel prices just a little for a short time." Then she served as a stenographer for Donald Trump:
But former President Donald Trump, who returned the Petroleum Reserve to full capacity, issued a statement condemning the move:
Trump is lying -- the SPR was not "low or virtually empty"; in fact, it was more than 80 percent full at the the time Trump authorized filling it further. The SPR holds a maximum of 727 million barrels of oil, and Trump's authorization was for 77 million barrels. At the time, oil prices had cratered due to the pandemic, so it didn't exactly require an act of political courage on Trump's part to do that, despite his suggestion otherwise. Even then, it took months to obtain the oil for the SPR, in part because oil producers opted to cut production rather than feed a market in which oil prices had actually gone negative due to plummeting demand.
Jones went on to uncritically quote Trump some more:
Those reserves are meant to be used for serious emergencies, like war, and nothing else. Now I understand that Joe Biden will be announcing an “attack” on the newly brimming Strategic Oil Reserves so that he could get the close to record-setting high oil prices artificially lowered.
Jones didn't mention that Trump signed a bill in 2018 that mandated the sale of 100 million barrels of oil from the SPR by 2027 to fund the government -- which runs counterfactually to his claim that the SPR should be reserved only for "serious emergencies, like war, and nothing else."
And about Trump's reference to gas "selling for $7 in parts of California": That appears to be referring only to a single station in one California town that can get away with gouging consumers because it's the only station in the immediate area. The average price of gas in the state is around $4 a gallon.
Jones fact-checked none of that -- she simply served as Trump's stenographer. That's how CNS' right-wing bias works.
Veterans Day: Loving Trump, snubbing Biden
A Nov. 11 article by Craig Bannister was a very gushy piece to a certain former president:
On Thursday, former President Donald Trump released a Veterans Day video, in which he expresses his extreme gratitude to all of those who have served in the U.S. military.
Does CNS hate Biden so much that it thinks a Veterans Day message from a man whose aggressive avoidance of military service is well known though he once attended a military school is more important than a message from the sitting president? Apparently so.
Oh, and Bannister didn't mention that the Western Journal -- his source for Trump's alleged accomplishments -- isn't exactly a fair and balanced media outlet; Media Bias/Fact Check labels it as far right with questionable accuracy.
A tale of two prayer breakfasts
When President Biden spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in February, CNSNews.com rushed to frame it as negatively as possible. Its lead article, by Melanie Arter, hyped that Biden used an outdated racial term:
President Joe Biden referred to blacks as “colored” during a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday during Black History Month.
Biden using the word "colored" was the only takeaway Arter got from him telling that story -- even though he explained that the word was in common use when he was growing up. That's the sign of a highly biased news outlet desperate to find negativity and hype it.
That was followed two and a half hours later not by another article on what else Biden might have said but, rather, by a column from CNS' favorite dishonest Catholic, Bill Donohue, bashing Biden's speech, which he turned into a partisan rant having nothing to do with religion:
It's a good thing that Vice President Kamala Harris didn't speak first at the National Prayer Breakfast. She would have made President Joe Biden look bad.
The headline of Donohue's column originally read, "Biden's Prayer Breakfast: Flashbacks and Silly Comments but No Discussion of Cop-Killing," but was later changed to the slightly more benign "Biden Fails At Prayer Breakfast Event."
It was not until an hour and a half after Donohue's negativity was posted that CNS got around to doing an article -- anonymously written, of course -- that reported on religion-related things Biden said at the prayer breakfast:
President Joe Biden addressed the National Prayer Breakfast today, which was held in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center and attended by many members of Congress from both parties, and said the he prayed that “we follow what Jesus taught us.”
By contrast, CNS' coverage of President Trump's speech at the 2020 prayer breakfast -- which came shortly after he was acquitted by Republicans in his first impeachment trial -- was much different. First up was an article by Arter uncritically repeating Trump's whining about being impeached:
One day after the Senate acquitted him on two articles of impeachment, President Donald Trump opened his speech at the 68th Annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday by lashing out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats for trying to impeach and remove him from office.
That was followed by more uncritical stenography from Arter of Trump using the prayer breakfast to brag about himself:
The U.S. economy is doing so well that employers are running out of people to hire and are employing ex-cons like never before, President Donald Trump said in a speech at the 68th Annual National Prayer Breakfast.
But CNS censored the fact that many faith leaders objected to Trump using the prayer breakfast to unleash political attacks on his critics. Nevertheless, Craig Bannister felt the need to play gotcha with Nancy Pelosi over her criticism of Trump's performance:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she doesn’t know exactly what President Donald Trump said about her or Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) earlier at the National Prayer Breakfast but, she’s sure it was inappropriate.
Bannister then huffed that "In fact, Trump did not actually mention either Pelosi or Romney by name in his prayer breakfast remarks, CNSNews.com reports" -- then quoted from the part of Arter's article in which she explained that Trump didn't use their names, it was clear who he was referring to. Which, of course, completely undermines his argument.
It seems that if CNS didn't have double standards, it would have no standards at all.