CNN is airing a bizarre new advertisement with the motto "Facts First," which insists that the network calls an apple an apple, even if critics of its "news" reporting argue it's a banana. You see, CNN is interested in objective truth, not opinions. This would be like McDonald's advertising with an apple and saying the company is all about health food.
Our "news" networks don't deal with facts first. They sell us narratives, and the favorite is the wild speculation about what might happen next to President Trump. For months, they have speculated about how meetings with powerful Russians would be the end of Trump. From Jan. 20 to Oct. 20, the Media Research Center reports, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening-news shows alone gave that story just over 1,000 minutes.
But Obamacare? Budget and taxes? Immigration? A possible nuclear war with North Korea? All are second bananas. It's Trump-Russia, Russia-Trump day in and day out.
The Russia narrative they prefer is this: Donald Trump won the presidency due to the help of an autocratic foreign power. But in the last week, a series of investigative reports by The Hill have brought something altogether new to the discussion: facts. And the facts are implicating former President Obama's administration, specifically Hillary Clinton, in some astonishingly unethical, if not illegal, behavior with the Russians. The publication reported:
--Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery and extortion before the Obama administration approved the sale of Uranium One to Russia, a company that controls 20 percent of America's uranium supply. They routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit The Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state and helped provide a favorable uranium decision to Moscow.
--In preparation for collecting a $500,000 speech payment in Moscow in 2010, former President Bill Clinton sought State Department clearance to meet with a key official of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom, which still needed the Obama team's approval for on the uranium deal. Instead, Clinton met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the autocrat's private homestead.
--Obama's Justice Department prevented an American businessman who worked undercover for years as an FBI confidential witness from telling Congress about transactions and conversations he witnessed regarding the Russian nuclear industry's efforts to win the favor of Team Obama and the Clintons.
--The FBI identified a Russian spy ring's attempt in 2009 and 2010 to infiltrate Hillary Clinton's inner circle through a donor friend in order to spy on the State Department. Agents arrested and deported the female spy before anything could happen.
Countless other publications assert that nine investors in Uranium One jointly donated a cool $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.
This reads like a fascinating spy novel, but ABC and NBC have offered nothing. Let that sink in. CBS aired one question (and one answer) on "Face the Nation" that lasted 69 seconds. CNN, which has spent hour after hour obsessing over Russian collusion with Trump, can hardly be bothered with this narrative.
That's "Facts First" -- media style.
Naturally, the usual dishonest Clinton defense emerged: This was "old news." When author Peter Schweitzer wrote about this issue in 2015 (without the new developments), he was virtually ignored. And if he was interviewed, hostile treatment is an understatement. Here's how NBC's Savannah Guthrie dealt with "facts" back then. She asked Schweitzer: "Before we get into some of the details, let's put it bluntly: Are you hoping that this book and the issues you raise in it torpedo her candidacy?" He said no, but she shot back: "a lot of your critics say, 'Look, you are a conservative and that this is a right-wing hit job.' Are you really claiming to be neutral here?"
No one is neutral in the pro-Clinton press corps. Facts never come first.