"Riffed from the Headlines" is Townhall's daily VIP feature with coverage on the deeply flawed aspects of journalism in the nation. We'll look to bring accountability to the mishaps, malaprops, misdeeds, manipulations, malpractice, and manufactured narratives in mainstream media. (For a VIP discount, drop SLAGER in the signup form.)
Both Kinds Of Standards – CNN
One of the hilarious things to watch this year has been Brian Stelter continuously condemning Fox News over ethical breeches by that network, all while he continues to share airtime with the likes of Jeffrey Toobin and Chris Cuomo. The latter has become an especially problematic figure for CNN as he has been repeatedly shown to be far more deeply involved with his brother's scandals as governor of New York.
New details were released yesterday showing Chris was an integral part of the defensive spin coming from his brother's office. He was even willing to go to the extent of targeting some of Andrew's victims in a pro-active PR push. The network is clearly at a loss as to what to do, signified by CNN's media guru Brian Stelter wrestling with the story. To his credit, Stelter did cover things about the new release, but to his detriment, he also did his best to massage the details and exonerate CNN as much as possible.
Amazingly, once again, the network took no action in having their star pundit step aside as they looked into the matter. Cuomo was on the air again last night, and he made no move whatsoever that even came close to addressing the issue.
For what it's worth, when Chris Cuomo addressed his actions on the air back in August, he said "this will be my final word on it," and he hasn't addressed the matter on TV since. https://t.co/rbaxBMNOhn— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 30, 2021
You get the sense that Stelter may have strained something as he continued to cover this emerging story and not actually address the particulars of the story. Note here how he describes CNN's involvement in the issue of Cuomo's activities.
Today's documents indicated that the scope of how Chris Cuomo aimed to help his brother was more considerable – and that he was more intimately involved – than previously known. Here's what I wrote for @CNN with @soniamoghe and @oliverdarcy >>> https://t.co/sqwhaoW7a7— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 30, 2021
More involved than known. The issue here, Brian, is why was it not known? Chris failed to reveal all of this, and the network failed to investigate this properly. Now, CNN is on the hook for keeping this damaged figure at the forefront of the network.
(I will have some deeper coverage of this story later this afternoon.)
Glossary Over Things – THE NEW YORK TIMES
Ben Smith has a rather amazing revelation in The Times about how some of the power brokers in journalism have been gathering on Zoom meetings the past few weeks to take on the issue of misinformation and implied media manipulation. Orchestrated by Harvard University's media center, these meetings drew top brass from many major news outlets, looking to take on the spread of so-called false stories and misinformation campaigns.
At the center of the discussions had been the Hunter Biden laptop story, specifically, how it was pushed by the Trump campaign and how social media was leveraged to generate news coverage of the story. Glossed over lightly in Smith's rundown is that the story was ultimately proven to be true, but that was well after the election. Also not addressed anywhere in his column is the blatantly fake story of the Steele dossier, which the press did, in fact, run with, as they were fed that story from the Hillary Clinton camp.
The revealing portion is that Smith says after some of the meetings, the participants were still dismayed over the clarification of things. Then there is this pull quote that just sums everything up in bizarre form; they are attempting to redefine what truth is.
- "Journalists and academics are developing a new language for truth. The results are not always clearer."
Inside the ‘Misinformation’ Wars https://t.co/ONpvsnPV6I— Ben Smith (@benyt) November 29, 2021
DNC PR Firm – WHITE HOUSE PRESS OFFICE
- The only thing he did not say was, "Release the hounds."
President Biden finds himself in yet another bind, this time in his calling for a travel ban on Africa, in a rushed response to news of the omicron Covid variant. The problem involves his past criticisms of Donald Trump instituting travel bans when the Covid outbreak was fresh news in early 2020. Attempting to repair some of his image while also rallying the media troops, Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates sent out a clip of Jen Psaki deflecting that Biden was critical of Trump's tweets, not the travel bans.
Fact check from the time: "Trump’s portrayal of his China order isn’t accurate, and there’s no record of Biden specifically criticizing the decision." https://t.co/1Fo1LD8ELi https://t.co/EYye9VdxGa— Andrew Bates (@AndrewJBates46) November 29, 2021
Bates also included a link to a Bloomberg report on the war of words between Biden and Trump last March, where the outlet defended Biden in an oblivious fashion.
- "Trump's portrayal of his China order isn't accurate, and there's no record of Biden specifically criticizing the decision."
Only thing, Andrew – there was a record of this. Biden not only criticized Trump specifically over the travel ban weeks earlier, but he later also criticized him over an African travel ban, which Biden alluded to being racist...as he himself is entertaining enforcing one at the moment.
It was NOT about tweets— Brad Slager - Incontinent On Another Continent (@MartiniShark) November 30, 2021
3-12-2020: ''Banning all travel from Europe, or any other part of the world, will not stop it.''
How about when Biden chirped about an African travel ban, Andrew? Which fact-check sycophant on speed dial will bail you out of that one? https://t.co/d9vNfh9LMe pic.twitter.com/dJoKwHg8Ku
Body Checking the Fact Checkers – THE INDEPENDENT
One day we might see a time when journalists do not rush out a hit piece on Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis. Earlier this month, Andrew Feinberg had a blistering assessment of a DeSantis presser, where he was addressing the controversy over mandated vaccines. The governor made a passing mention that government overreach could extend things and make the boosters mandated as well, suggesting that those who received the shot but had not gotten the booster could be classified as "Unvaccinated."
Feinberg – dare we say it – pounced on DeSantis over this issue.
Fact Check: DeSantis falsely claims vaccinated citizens without boosters could be declared unvaccinated and lose their jobs https://t.co/myl32k3Xxl— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) November 4, 2021
Now, we are not even out of the month of November, and word comes that the omicron variant has people so nervous that the boosters may, in fact, become that very mandated issue DeSantis suggested.
Wondering if @AndrewFeinberg will run a follow-up after saying Ron DeSantis was making false claims about this very issue with boosters.@ChristinaPushaw pic.twitter.com/2regNOTQj0— Brad Slager - Incontinent On Another Continent (@MartiniShark) November 30, 2021
Presentation Paradox – MSNBC
- Only Trump cultists make these false claims! Uh...and our expert guests…
As she is priming to become the anointed replacement of Rachel Maddow, MSNBC's resident GOP turncoat Nicolle Wallace continues to utter the anti-party line on her afternoon show. The latest is her making the emotional claim that Republicans are dismissing or downplaying the emergence of the omicron variant – an odd thing to say in the face of other claims that the GOPers are overhyping it to score points against Biden, but whatever.
Then Wallace had on a doctor to explain the emergence and what this new variant could mean, and he promptly goes on to downplay the impact of omicron.
MSNBC Chyron: REPUBLICANS DOWNPLAY NEW COVID VARIANT— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) November 29, 2021
Minutes later, the guest on the segment says "there is no reason to panic." pic.twitter.com/kZ5xG0atsI
Body Checking the Fact Checkers – CNN
- Daniel Dale nickels and dimes Trump over gas prices, downplays Biden's dollars.
This is the game played by the viscounts of vérité. This time Danel Dale, the resident fact-checker at CNN, gets to the bottom of the facts, but in so doing, deflects away from a larger truth.
He takes on recent claims Trump made about the price of gas when he left office and shows how high those prices are today, but Dale tries correcting Trump on the accuracy of his pricing. In a couple of interviews, he has claimed the price was around $1.87 a gallon. Then he cites a station in California selling it into the seven-dollar range. Dale rides in to defend Biden's honor and fractures the math in the process.
After saying that highlighting a lone station in California is not an accurate measure, Dale corrects Trump on his exit pricing, then gets his own proof wrong.
- "Still, the starting prices Trump used for Biden's term – $1.83, $1.86 and $1.87 – were all at least 52 cents per gallon too low."
Except, Dale himself noted gas prices in November, when Trump said a year ago, were on average $2.11. That is about 25 cents off Daniel, not 50 cents. But in waving his arms over Trump's fluid pricing, it is done to overlook his larger point, which is that today the national gas price average is well over a dollar higher, sitting at $3.40. The last time we saw per-gallon prices that high, Mr. Dale – it was years prior to the Trump administration.
Fact check: Gas prices when Donald Trump left office were much higher than he now claims https://t.co/3ZX3N0mS29— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 30, 2021