And what baseball has to do with the death of an Iowa TV newsroom
Dave -- as the former employee of a Sinclair owned TV station, I could not agree more with these comments. One question: Doesn't the Sinclair move in Sioux City violate the terms of their license with the FCC? I believe that license states they need to cover the news in the community where they hold the license.
I cringe when I hear journalists on my favorite (your previous) TV station report on Trump like he is just a normal responsible political figure talking to citizens. You are right, he cannot be ignored. But he does not have to be featured as uplifting and honest. I think his baggage should always be mentioned and acknowledged.
Has anyone ever watched a presidential debate or a televised interview with Trump? The odds that a newsman - any newsman - can hold this congenital liar to the truth in a “town hall” are smaller than me winning the lottery. Walter Cronkite couldn’t do it. He will talk right over her.
We are giving a mob boss an hour of free propaganda. Oh, CNN will get ratings and perhaps some far-right loonies will think more kindly toward it but at what expense to the nation? Any other legitimate Republican candidate can and should have such a stage and opportunity but we’ve never had a mob boss in such a prominent position and therefore we need special rules.
Not sure on this one, Dave. Have yet to see a reporter who was up to the challenge of holding him to account. We'll see.
I agree with Dave about loss of local media and to leaning in support of CNN--up to a point. Dave notes the complications on whether to cancel. However, has CNN boxed itself into a corner that will only benefit Jan. 6 deniers, extreme MAGA types and their followers?. If history repeats, Trump will ignore, lie, put Collins on defensive, and otherwise convince or reinforce followers that he stands for freedom, that he is the victim, and that supporters should fight back. I am unsure of what unused journalist tools are at the disposition of Kaitlyn Collins and CNN to overcome Trump lies. I do not know of any journalistic tools available to prevent Trump from using this CNN event as a megaphone to proclaim Jan. 6 was patriotic, disparaging American democratic values, spouting Russian talking points, etc.; if Collins calls out assertions as untrue (e.g. convictions of Jan. 6 defendants, NATO support of Ukraine), Trump will say she is wrong and the media is controlled by certain elites. At best, it becomes a stalemate, as seen by some or even many viewers and readers of the follow up media accounts. At worse, it becomes a victory for Trump, because all media coverage for Trump is good for Trump-regardless if there are panelists and commentators who refute every lie of Trump. If for some reason, Collins achieves Murrow level skills, and Trump’s Achilles Heel is exposed, others will take his place. If nothing else, other R candidates will insist CNN provides equal coverage. CNN has yet to indicate how it will keep from being painted into a corner. Amanda Carpenter, who worked for Cruz, wrote of Trump’s playbook in 2016. I hope I am wrong in believing this CNN event may become another page in his playbook.
While I lament the degradation of local news coverage (both broadcast and print) manifest by the eruption of these consolidators, balance requires that we examine why 186 (that's a lot!) station-owners agreed to sell, owners that largely lived and worked locally. Did they not abandon their communities to the vagaries of distant ownership? Should we not blame them for the ultimate result? Of course we should, or at least could.
But consider their alternative--the major reason for selling in the vast majority of cases was surely economic--rising costs and declining local viewership and ad revenue heralding ultimate bankruptcy. To their credit they rescued some capital that could still be of use in the community, an option not available to the corner hardware store or grocery.
Sinclair at least extended the life of local news a few years, but even they are up against inflation and evolving choices made by consumers and advertisers. There are proposed solutions but they, too, are problematic.
I understand your confliction. I am a 1972 Iowa State journalism graduate and I've wondered how my old professors - Ed Blinn and Bill Kunerth for two - would handle this. I know how they'd cover anyone but Trump. I once heard said that American institutions were not built to handle Donald Trump because they were based on a basic decentness - you follow laws, respect traditions, admit wrongs, concede defeats, tell the truth and so forth. Founding Fathers tried to envision a future Trump but their infrastructure doesn't hold anymore than an Iowa electric fence designed to contain cattle won't stop a charging hippo.
He has a genius for appealing to the lowest common denominator and unfortunately a large swath of America loves his act (even if they realize he's slimy). There's a chance he'll botch the Town Hall but now he's being "handled" by very professional pols who are much wiser than his previous team. He's a danger to our nation and should be treated as such.
CNN can make any editorial decisions it wishes. But if the network devotes live coverage to Donald Trump, it should do so for all the other declared Republican presidential candidates regardless of their rankings in public opinion polls. By ignoring the lesser GOP hopefuls, CNN will continue the regrettable “horserace” tradition that too many media fall prey to. This flaw, as you write, elevates some candidates in the eyes of the public. It unfairly sets the agenda for presidential campaigns and coverage.
I am afraid continuing to give Trump a forum on CNN will embolden his followers and hurt our country more than he already has done.
I m concerned about CNN. Inthe last 2 days I saw their story about rising temperatures in the oceans, and the consequences. They repeatedly said no one really knows why those temperatures are going up! The ocean is absorbing most of the increased heat held in by greenhouse gases. CNN is abandoning science?
Hmmm. From the company that aided and abetted Steve King. Northwest Iowa for generations has viewed itself as an outcast from the rest of the state. That sense of isolation only will increase, further fueling the polarization that has turned Iowa away from its progressive roots.
Agree with you, Dave, and I've had this debate with numerous friends. He's a former president and the front-runner for the nomination. I don't see how a mainstream news organization can claim to be "fair" while ignoring a major party candidate.
No one knows what to do about the there's-no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity issue, but it's CNN's obligation to call out every false statement and hope for the best. I'm not yet ready to admit that I wasted my entire life checking facts and trying to bring the audience accurate information. The fact is, we do have an audience that cares about facts and reality, and we must continue to serve them.
Dave -- Excellent column. Even-handed observations with experienced insight. That Sioux City piece is distressing.
Dave, I sympathize with the notion that the CNN town hall can be argued both ways. I just come down on the other side. I submit that CNN (and the other cable networks) did learn their lesson in 2016. The lesson is: Trump gets ratings! That's why they're offering him a "town hall." One could ask where is the town hall with Nikki Haley? Now maybe they offered her an opportunity and she declined; I don't know. Or maybe they're negotiating about one. But there's a rea$on Trump is the first program, aside from his having the highest poll ratings.
I agree with your point that CNN as a news organization can't not cover Trump. But making up an event for him is not covering him. They SHOULD cover him like they're covering the other announced candidates, which amounts to not that much airtime. And for now, I think we're better off as a people with not having every utterance of presidential hopefuls on the news every night.
We’ve never needed local news more. Sinclair already had a combo in the market with Fox and CBS but they’re too incompetent to make money. Or too short-sighted to invest in it. Viewers can get network shows anywhere. The main reason to watch local is....LOCAL. It’s even in the name.
The FCC is worthless. Fox and CBS should require stations to produce news as part of their affiliation agreements. It’s good for the community and the networks.
Perhaps CNN should have Daniel Dale, their resident fact-checker, live in the studio, adding on-screen graphics that call out his lies (with factual substantiation) as they occur. It would be easy to be prepared in advance with dozens of clarifications for the lies we know will be coming.