FNC = Trump News Network?
For decades CNN was derisively referred to as the Clinton News Network. The moniker stuck not so much because the charge packed much validity but because the acronym for Clinton News Network matched the acronym for Cable News Network.
I have resisted getting too immersed in the goings on with cable news and campaign 2016. I have a long held beef with all of cable news for overdoing it on the politics side and the horse race nature of its coverage of elections. I hate the campaigns and I hate the coverage of the campaigns. I cannot wait for the next two months to pass by as quickly as possible. Cue up a CNN countdown clock, if you please…
That said, there are some things I just can’t ignore.
I’ve watched for a while now and groaned about Corey Lewandowski’s dubious conflict of interest ridden hiring by Jeff Zucker and CNN, who continue to maintain a straight face while defending said hiring while more and more evidence drips out strongly pointing to the notion that the network just plain fucked up in hiring the guy. Hearing Jake Tapper go to bat for Zucker last week at a Town Hall meeting made my stomach churn…
CNN host Jake Tapper, who moderated Tuesday’s employee town hall, also emphasized that many of the network’s stable of conservative pundits were Trump critics and that it’s important to have people on air representing the views of the tens of millions of Americans expected to vote for the Republican nominee.
Tapper pointed out that CNN is in a unique position when it comes to providing balance, as opposed to Fox News and MSNBC, cable channels with partisan leanings, and broadcast networks that aren’t covering news round-the-clock on television.
Yeah…ok Jake. But so what? None of that goes to the suitability of Lewandowski nor CNN’s weaselly defense of retaining someone on two payrolls which are in direct conflict with one another. Everything Tapper said may be true but it’s also a total non-sequitur to the reason people are sill talking about this.
So I just can’t ignore it. It’s a blight on CNN.
Likewise, what FNC is doing recently with Donald Trump is a blight on its news operation. For starters there was last night’s post debate interview with Sean Hannity. In the middle of FNC’s news division’s post debate analysis…the news division had to stand down so that the opinion side can take over and give Hannity air time he should have absolutely no business being anywhere near.
You expect serious questions from Hannity to Trump? Hell no. You’ll get Hannity lobbing whatever softball will work to prop up the guy he is completely (and admittedly) 100% in the tank for.
You don’t think this spectacle grated on the news wing? It sure as hell grated on Megyn Kelly…
Kelly said, “”We’ve got Trump speaking to our own Sean Hannity. We’ll see whether he speaks to the journalists in this room after that interview.”
And now today comes this article on FoxNews.com…
When Trump pushed back on Holt, saying “I was against the war in Iraq,” Holt countered: “The record does not show that.”
Then Trump laid out his case.
“The record shows that I’m right,” he said. “When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone’s asked me that, I said, very lightly, ‘I don’t know, maybe, who knows?’ essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy is more important [than going to war].”
Holt repeated that his reference was to 2002 and then tried to move the discussion along.
But Cavuto himself picked up the thread post-debate on Fox Business Network, unearthing the clip Trump referenced, from January 28, 2003 – Nearly two months before the Iraq War began on March 20. In the video, Cavuto asks Trump how much time President Bush should spend on the economy vs. on Iraq.
“Well, I’m starting to think that people are much more focused now on the economy,” Trump said. “They’re getting a little bit tired of hearing ‘We’re going in, we’re not going in.’ Whatever happened to the days of Douglas MacArthur? Either do it or don’t do it.”
Trump continued: “Perhaps he shouldn’t be doing it yet. And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations.”
Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczsynski went on a Tweet rampage over that article…
This is, for lack of a better word, complete bullshit from Fox News.
1.) Trump does NOT say he opposes Iraq in the clip. Says maybe wait for U.N. approval and either attack or don’t. Doesn’t “back up” anything
2.) Neil Cavuto did not “uncover” this last night. All fact checkers, @PolitiFact, @GlennKesslerWP, me, had this interview for months.
3.) It’s embarrassing Fox News would categorize this way when Cavuto has clip on his show of Trump calling it success he’s yet to air on TV.
4.) I personally asked multiple Fox people for the clip of Trump Iraq invasion success in 2003 before I had to get if from college archive.
5.) Congrats to Fox News on finding a clip fact checkers had in February and framing exactly how Trump wanted you to.
I won’t go so far as to use Kaczynski’s “complete bullshit” characterization but this article is definitely fundamentally flawed…
I don’t need to rehash the article hyping Neil Cavuto’s “miraculous” finding of this clip months after everyone else already noted it except to say if Cavuto wasn’t involved in any way with this article he should sue for defamation because it really makes him look bad.
No, instead I’m going to attack the article directly for using supplementary evidence which is actually 180 degrees opposite of what the article states is the case…
Yet despite the Cavuto clip, and the ambivalence of Trump’s own on-the-fence answer during the 2002 Stern interview, post-debate fact-checkers nearly universally wrote that Trump had lied during the exchange with Holt.
Politifact rated the claim “False.” The website even noted the Cavuto exchange, while remarking “At most he suggested waiting for the United Nations to do something.”
Politico blared: “Trump [again] says he opposed the Iraq War. That’s still false.”
The article makes it look like the Cavuto clip refutes the fact-checkers, and by extension Lester Holt, when the reality is the Cavuto clip refutes Trump. Here’s Politifact’s own words in context…context which the FNC article did not include…
Trump said, “I did not support the war in Iraq … The record shows that I’m right.”
The record does not support Trump’s repeated assertions that he opposed the war prior to the 2003 invasion. Around the time of the invasion, Trump’s comments were few and far between, not to mention vague.
In 2002, asked if America should go to war, he said, “I guess so.” Less than three months before the invasion, Trump said the president should be more focused on the economy, but he didn’t specifically speak against launching an attack. He didn’t voice full-throated opposition until almost a year and a half after the invasion.
We rate this claim False.
I bolded the part that’s central to this. There has been no…zero…none…nada…zippo public evidence that Trump was publicly against the war from the get go. Unverifiable private conversations with vocal supporters who are in the tank for you don’t count.
Politifact doesn’t have to show that Trump was 100% for the war. It only has to show that Trump wasn’t 100% against it to give validity to the claim that Trump is lying about his record. And the evidence, which the Foxnews.com article itself notes, is ambiguous at best in showing what Trump was thinking or feeling publicly before the invasion.
This doesn’t work to Trump’s benefit. It only makes his claim that he was always against the war more tenuous.
Yet to read the Foxnews.com article you’d think the Cavuto clip totally settles the matter when the reality is it just throws more confusion when what is needed is clarity.
So the question needs to be asked, what was the purpose of this article? It clearly doesn’t settle the matter in Trump’s favor and it clearly doesn’t refute Holt or the fact checkers and it clearly doesn’t break any new ground given that the overhyped Cavuto clip had already been noted by everyone else and wasn’t the brass ring the article made it out to be.
So what’s the point? Is it just to help Trump? It doesn’t read like a news article. It reads like an opinion piece designed to score points while ignoring inconvenient contrary evidence…the kind of article you’d find on NewsBusters or Media Matters.
Is it propaganda? That’s a strong word. It does share more commonality with propaganda pieces than journalism pieces but there’s no direct evidence this article was ordered from on high and I have yet to hear about this story’s subject getting much play on FNC TV’s dayside news operation.
That said, the Foxnews.com websites do seem to operate to a different more muddled standard than the TV news dayside operation does.
But add this article to last night’s Hannity post debate interview, which happened almost immediately after the debate ended, and you have to ask yourself the question: Is FNC turning into the Trump News Network? And how does FNC’s journalism wing feel about that?