Oh, how I hate admitting this, but I feel compelled to do so.
Ari Fleischer — President George W. Bush’s first press secretary — posted a tweet overnight that makes an interesting and quite valid point about CNN’s coverage of all things political.
He said that if you’re an anti-Donald J. Trump (a Democrat) guest, you get all the time in the world to make your case; if you happen to be pro-Trump (a Republican), the CNN anchors will interrupt you constantly. Here’s what he wrote: I’ve been watching CNN’s morning show recently. It seems to have two main topics. 1) What did Trump/GOP do wrong? 2) How bad is the collusion story for Donald Trump. If you’re a Democrat guest , you’re free to speak. If you’re a Republican, you’ll always be interrupted.
I admit to watching it occur in the moment myself. And, oh yes, it annoys me, too.
Let me be clear about something else as well. Fleischer made no mention of the way Fox News on-air personalities treat their pro- and anti-Trump guests. Given that I rarely watch Fox, I am only able to presume that they flip the CNN example on its head, treating the Republicans with fairness and the Democrats with the same level of disdain that CNN shows toward the pro-Trumpers.
I want to hold up an example of how a broadcast or cable news network ought to handle these on-air confrontations: I present ABC News’ “This Week.”
That program, which airs Sunday morning, had former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr on board this past weekend explaining what might drive the investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged involvement with Russian 2016 election hackers. He appeared with ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams. Starr — who ran the investigation that led to President Clinton’s impeachment — could be construed as someone favorable to the current president. Abrams has revealed a more critical bias toward the president.
The two men made their points without interruption. The moderator, Martha Raddatz, didn’t barge in on either man’s time. She let them argue their points to the viewers — and occasionally with each other.
This is the kind of give-and-take we rarely see on CNN — the cable network that calls itself the “leader” in cable news presentation.
I am a fairly regular CNN viewer. As one who takes the presentation of news seriously, I want to echo Ari Fleischer’s assessment of the perception that CNN creates, which is that it does not present the news fairly and without bias.
And just think: This critique comes from someone who is inclined to agree with the point of view expressed by CNN’s talking heads.
My plea is simple. Check your bias at the door, CNN “news” staff, and don’t let your anxiety over the state of play in politics and public policy get the better of you.