CNN makes me ashamed to call myself a journalist. Most major media outlets make me feel that way, but lately CNN has pushed me over the edge. Tremendously biased reporting, hypocrisy, misleading the public and bullying individuals is not the role of mass media.
One of my duties as chief copy editor is to ensure that all news and features stories are reported from a neutral point of view, with no opinion being inserted by the writer. It’s the role of the news to present the facts and only the facts to the public so that they can make an informed decision about a given situation, to make their own value judgements.
When a reporter inserts their opinion in a news piece, however subtly, it in essence tells the public what to think.
News goes from a source of information to a source of propaganda. Of course, editorial or commentary pieces are just a writer sharing their thoughts, but those articles are presented as an opinion piece, often with a disclaimer saying that the views expressed do not reflect anything other than the views of the writer and the writer alone.
All I see from news media is telling people what to think, blatantly making value judgements. I’ve accepted it as reality, different media outlets need to compete for viewers to sell advertisements and going sensationalist gets more clicks and views. I do what I can to teach reporters about the tradition of journalistic integrity and hope that I instill a desire to be unbiased.
However, when CNN goes after private citizens in a petty search of revenge, they have even transcended the sleazy, slimy role as propaganda outlet and have become something worse, something I’ve never seen before.
After President Trump tweeted a gif of him tackling a body with a CNN logo for a face, CNN completely lost it. Calling it advocating violence to the media, they went on a witch hunt to find the creator of the gif and to extract an apology out of them.
CNN states that they are not going to reveal the identity of the creator because he has issued an apology, showed remorse, and removed posts, yet “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”
This is blackmail, pure and simple. CNN is restricting an individual’s right to free speech on the threat of public shaming. It’s difficult to state how wrong this is on every level. It was a joke, a meme, one of trillions bouncing around the internet. Journalistic integrity is the last thing on CNN’s mind, they are only seeking petty revenge.
If CNN is going to blatantly express their own views all over their articles and in their coverage, the absolute least they can do is allow others to express their views in their own way.
The proper response to internet trolling is to ignore it, not to feed it, not to dox it and certainly not to blackmail it. To ignore it is to rise above it, to say “this matters so little to us we will not even acknowledge its existence.” Going the blackmail route is lowering yourself, compromising values in a quest for vindictive revenge. Something that Trump would do. CNN should be striving to better themselves, to be the bigger person as it were, but instead they sink to the level of their enemy for no other reason than pettiness.
Thankfully others seem to share my views, and CNN’s ratings are dropping, they have been criticized by other news outlets, and even CNN’s sponsors are seeing negative feedback. One can only hope that CNN and news media up their game and resume their role as an independent, neutral check on government.