A terrible month of controversy, coupled with criticisms from the Trump administration, appears to be taking a toll on the rationality of CNN correspondents and pundits. CNN’s senior international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, suggested Wednesday evening that protests from the White House over fake news stories and unfair media treatment could result in violence against journalists.
“At what point does this become dangerous?” Ward asked CNN reporter Chris Cillizza. “I’m not just talking about dangerous in terms of tearing at the social fabric. I’m talking about dangerous as in a journalist gets hurt, because I can tell you [from] working overseas in war zones, people are emboldened by the actions of this administration, emboldened by the all-out declaration of war on the media.”
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One media watchdog said over-the-top absurdity, like these comments from Ward, has become the norm for CNN.
“Ward is blaming President Trump for terrorists attacking people,” Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture for the Media Research Center, told LifeZette. “That’s so over-the-top nuts that it’s hard to do anything other than just say, this is CNN. That’s their motto, and crazy comments like that have become what we have to expect.”
Some observers suggested CNN reporters are looking to establish themselves as victims to distract from the real issue of the network’s crisis of credibility.
“This seems to be an attempt to claim victim status without actually being victimized,” said Eddie Zipperer, a political science professor at Georgia Military College.
“CNN is working overtime to frame themselves as victims of President Trump’s pushback on fake news,” he told LifeZette.
Cillizza wasn’t prepared to go so far. “I don’t want to say we’re past that point,” he said.
But Playboy journalist Brian Karem, who was part of the discussion, was eager to go that far and more.
“Our newspapers after Donald Trump’s election, we’ve gotten threats from both the far left and the far right,” said Karem. “They are emboldened, it is dangerous, and the fact of the matter is, it is insulting to the memory of the people who have given their lives for the cause for providing information to the public to then be told you are fake media, you do not matter, and what you’re doing is false.”
“It is dangerous, making it dangerous for reporters,” he continued. “You’re absolutely right, there is going to come a time, and it’s not going to be too far off, I surmise, when we’re going to see a reporter is going to face physical harm because of this.”
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CNN’s Wolf Blitzer echoed Karem’s feelings. “Have you raised the concern all of us in the news media have about the president calling us enemies of the American people? Because that is a very, very harsh statement and potentially very dangerous,” he asked Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, on Wednesday.
“They’ve lost several public opinion battles of late — retracting the story that Comey would say he never told Mr. Trump he was under investigation, retracting the Scaramucci story, having to fire three people, the producer calling the Trump-Russia narrative “bulls**t,” Van Jones calling it a nothing-burger,” observed Zipperer.
“The only way to make themselves the victim is to look into a crystal ball and predict terrible crimes against them in the future,” he said. “This is tea-leaf, Magic 8-Ball journalism designed to push a the idea that criticizing the media is basically a form of manslaughter. It’s designed to chill the president’s free speech. [But] I just shook my Magic 8-Ball, and it said that probably isn’t going to work.”
Gainor, of the Media Research Center, noted the absurdity of journalists claiming the hypothetical of violence while refusing to cover very real and escalating incidents of left-wing violence and extremism.
“America has endured years of left-wing protests, riots and attacks. But no major media outlet wants to admit this,” Gainor said. “What about the 7,700 Occupy Wall Street nuts who were arrested? What about riots in Ferguson, Baltimore and more? And, of course, who emboldened the Bernie Sanders volunteer to shoot Republican members of Congress? Journalists always want to blame conservatives for everything one person on the Right says and ignore the tidal wave of hate coming from the Left.”