Over the last few days, CNN has been in the news of other media outlets, because of what some are calling a disastrous or garbage town hall, that may have been pre-scripted to play gotcha against gun rights.
Reality Dispatch has touched on the apparent CNN’s bias, in the context of Fake News before. In a nutshell, while there are more biased outlets than CNN, the key differences are:
- Those other outlets don’t claim to be unbiased news.
- CNN has “broken” more news that turned out false than those other outlets.
- As a major outlet that seldom issues corrections, CNN’s errors have a larger impact than, say, the Nome Nugget.
Reality Dispatch doesn’t support President Trump, or anyone else, and we have reported on some of President Trump’s non-facts also, but he’s not in the news business.
Read on, or jump to our conclusion.
What’s The Issue?
CNN’s “Town Hall”, entitled “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action”, was billed as a discussion and debate. Some are seeing it as more of an extended hit piece, due to a few issues…
- Some accusations that CNN pre-scripted and pre-screened the questions.
- The audience was frenzied and not controlled.
- The crowd even booed mention of a pro-gun rape survivor, Kimberly Corban.
- The questions were all anti-gun; none came from the other side. (See the scripted issue.)
- Sheriff Israel denied Loesch’s claim that the police were called to Cruz’ residence 39 times… which CNN has reported… moderator Tapper did not correct him.
These are not all cases of Fake News or of malfeasance. Let’s take a look at them though:
Was (the NRA’s) Dana Leosch Set Up?
Dana says that, as she entered the arena, the audience was chanting “murderer”, “child killer” and even “burn her.” And there is the question that was prematurely directed at Leosch… see Question Denied below… which she sees as evidence of a set-up and scripting.
She also states that she was essentially trapped by the mob and needed a security detail (which CNN provided) to get out safely.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Colton Haab says he was given the question to ask, and that CNN refused to let him ask the question he wanted to:
This does sound more likely. “Facts matter”, and we don’t have all of them yet, but in this case Reality Dispatch suspects CNN is telling the truth.
Was It Scripted? Question Redirected.
The transcript is here. In it, student Michelle Lapido is asking a question, about halfway through:
LAPIDO : So, I had a question for Ms. Loesch but she’s not here yet. So for her and the NRA — she’s probably watching — and all of you puppet politicians that they are backing. Was the blood of my classmates and my teachers worth your blood money?
TAPPER: Senator Nelson, you don’t have to answer that question. Let’s move on to the – – to the next question.
LAPIDO: Excuse me? I’m a student. I should have the – –
TAPPER: I understand that but your question – – I thought you were going to ask Senator Nelson a question. You’re question sounds like you wanted to ask Dana Loesch a question in the next segment and I’m happy to do that if you want.
This could be a case of getting back on the script, on giving this question to Loesch. It also could be simply that Tapper was trying to be a good, and active, moderator. Different sides of the political spectrum are seeing this differently.
Reality Dispatch likes good muck-raking, but there’s just not much muck here.
- CNN seems to have selected the participants and questions to be anti-gun specifically.
- doesn’t find the accusation that CNN doctored Haab’s email credible, which suggests less scripting than he claimed. And while the Lapido exchange also suggests question screening, Tapper is correct that Senator Nelson shouldn’t have to answer a question meant for someone else.
- Had CNN scripted it (or done so more carefully), Sheriff Israel probably would have been fact-checked better.
- Moderator Tapper was clearly either biased or incompetent, not correcting Sheriff Israel or controlling the audience.
The biggest accusations were that the questions were “scripted”, rather than merely screened. The Town Hall was biased and poorly run, but probably not scripted.