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Tuesday, April 02 2019

When CNN began boasting about receiving the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism from the Norman Lear Center for their “townhall” exploitation of the Parkland school shooting, rational people everywhere rolled their eyes.  Media elites giving awards to media elites to celebrate how elite they are is as meaningful as when Hollywood does the same thing at their awards shows. 

But despite the dismissive yawn that most folks give to this “achievement,” I can’t help but admit it is perfectly well deserved.  For those who don’t remember, Walter Cronkite was the longtime anchor of CBS Evening News who narrated a number of important moments for millions of Americans watching on their TVs.  But Cronkite was also a far-left activist who advocated the destruction of American sovereignty from his perch at CBS.  The impact of his infamous misreporting of events in Vietnam cannot be underestimated in any fair evaluation of the disastrous consequences of American withdrawal from the conflict.

If CNN was to win any award for the emotionally manipulative political rally Jake Tapper facilitated in Parkland, Florida, it is fitting for it to be named after Cronkite.

Truthfully, I’ve always admired the journalistic integrity of Jake Tapper.  He was at ABC News when I was on the radio and remember often commenting that I thought of all the network reporters, he was one who worked hard to call balls and strikes, ask tough questions of both sides, and earn the trust and confidence of his audience.  That’s why I was so surprised when Tapper agreed to join CNN.

CNN is a network notorious for hucksters and propaganda.  It’s the network of Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy.  It’s the network of “hands up, don’t shoot” false narratives, the network of Star Wars holograms, un-retracted “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” lies, and “Malaysian Airlines has been sucked into a black hole” analysis.  It’s the network of Kathy Griffin stripping and swearing on New Years Eve, hosts appearing on-air while drunk, and leaking debate questions to favored presidential candidates.

It’s not the network of someone like Jake Tapper.  But despite that reality, he chose to associate with them and so it was only a matter of time until he would find his own reputation sullied by another CNN disgrace.  That disgrace occurred at the so-called Parkland Townhall event following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio and NRA Spokeswoman Dana Loesch were scapegoated and treated as murderers with the full and tacit approval of CNN.  They shamefully coordinated the entire event to facilitate such hatred while completely ignoring the real failures that led to the massacre.  Loesch herself chronicled them in a recent op-ed:

During the broadcast Scott Israel tried to play the hero and CNN encouraged it, even though the network’s own reporting revealed that his department had received 39 calls about the 19-year-old murderer – and did nothing to stop him.  Prior to his Feb. 14, 2018 rampage, Nikolas Cruz had beaten his adoptive mother so badly she lost several of her teeth, had taken knives and bullets to school, and had threatened to kill his fellow students (they reported him to school officials on numerous occasions). School counselors wanted him forcibly committed, and he had even called the police on himself (in addition to his own family calling them, begging for his weapons to be removed). Although Sheriff Israel knew all these things prior to the CNN event, it was made clear that the carnage at that school was my responsibility. 

If CNN was practicing journalism instead of advocacy that day, the sheriff would have been held to account. We’ve learned more since the shooting as well. In the weeks following, I spoke with one MSD teacher on NRATV who informed me that the school had no security plan in place for what had happened. I discussed on my radio program that a Secret Service agent had performed a risk assessment months before the massacre and none of his recommendations were put into effect.

If I could discover this kind of information, CNN, with its vast editorial resources, easily could have as well. There was no discussion about mental health awareness. No discussion about school security procedures. Instead, the discussion focused entirely on blaming Republican lawmakers, the Second Amendment, the NRA, and law-abiding gun owners. I watched from the stage as one camera focused on the pained face of a mother in agony, a mother mourning the loss of her child. She read a statement, pausing to compose herself as best she could, tears streaming down her face, while the camera zoomed in to capture her suffering. I don’t think some of those who attended realized that the network intended for this to be a spectacle. 

More than once I’ve wondered if Tapper, the host of this travesty, did.  I continue hoping that he did not.  Regardless, the suits at CNN knew what they were doing, they did it, and they feel no apparent remorse for their manipulation of the facts, exploitation of suffering families, or political activism they wrapped in the name of journalism. 

And that’s precisely why the Walter Cronkite Award couldn’t be more fitting.

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 11:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email