Steve Krakauer has done what many in the conservative news media have not: work for CNN. While not his first job in the media world, it certainly provides him much-needed insight when he crafts his newsletter, "Fourth Watch" for TheFirst on the network's fervent anti-Trump bias.
In an interview with Townhall, Krakauer explained how he sees the direction where CNN has gone since he left in the early 2010s to where it is today in the aftermath of Donald Trump becoming president in 2017.
"It seems like a very clear delineation from when the time I was there," Krakauer said, explaining his position at the network meant he was responsible for all of CNN's digital production, including "all of what T.V. looked and felt like on social media and on the website."
His time at CNN coincided with the 2012 presidential election and "I did not feel an ounce of bias one way or the other" in terms of how they covered the debates, conventions, and town halls, though Krakauer acknowledges how most people at the network were left-leaning, but "it didn't feel that way in the room."
All that changed in 2016, "where there became this feeling of this existential fight with the person in the White House... I think Trump, in a lot of ways, embraced this fight and it became a mission of CNN, I believe, to counter the presidency. And that was not there necessarily before in the feeling of wanting to counter on the other side and I think that has completely changed the output you see both on CNN, but also behind the scenes."
Indeed, Trump's criticisms of CNN, and the media at large, had been a staple throughout the campaign, but the dynamic had changed once he became the president-elect and he said the famous "You are fake news" remark to CNN reporter Jim Acosta at a press conference shortly after his victory.
One of the ways Krakauer sees how CNN has changed its programming for the worst is how almost every show host now has monologues for the anchors to give their thoughts at the beginning of their program.
"Anderson Cooper, who I think is an excellent journalist, who would travel the world to every natural disaster and warzone, he's now basically confined to a studio, and this was before coronavirus. He's in the studio every night, talking to pundits, and included in that is a monologue, is his opinion on some anti-Trump thing," he said. "That's just a very clear difference from the way things before."
Krakauer said while he likes anchor Chris Cuomo and how the network initially handled his bout with COVID-19, now that we know a lot more about his brother's, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), disastrous handling of nursing homes and how the virus spread easily on the subway trains, which did not start to get daily cleanings until May, "it's a bit rich start with the comedy routine right now."
With Brian Stelter hosting "Reliable Sources," Krakauer said Stelter has gone from holding everyone within the media world accountable while he was running TVNewser and worked at The New York Times to barely reporting on mishaps when it does not involve conservative media.
These days, Krakauer works to hold CNN's feet to the fire, with most recently focusing on their coverage of the reopening of states during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
This has been wall-to-wall on CNN today - non-stop, fear-mongering, COVID-shaming of people in outdoor public spaces... and not even backed up by most of the actual footage being aired. Absolutely ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/oLlF0xEft6— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) May 25, 2020
Though Krakauer is critical of the mainstream media, he also has some criticisms for Twitter, which he views as being an incentive for reporters to rush through the normal journalistic practices in order to be the first ones on a story. He pointed to how the media handled the alleged Jussie Smollett hoax hate crime in 2019.
"The media so over-indexes on Twitter. Everything moves so fast there. If you don't weigh in immediately, you're going to miss the big story. Twitter is not built to calmly think about the story before you kind of dive right in," he said.