In the latest episode of “Let’s Blame Everything on Trump,” The Washington Post published a piece discussing incidents involving several left-leaning journalists. Oddly enough, each of these events occurred in the same week, and all three involved reporters working for CNN. April Ryan, Don Lemon, and Chris Cuomo recently came under scrutiny after allegations of questionable behavior surfaced.
Looks like it has not been a very good week for the most distrusted name in fake news. But the writers of WaPo’s article were not providing insightful commentary on the stories in question. There was no diving into the alleged misconduct of the journalists involved. Instead, the Post authors engaged in a breathtaking mental gymnastics routine worthy of Simone Biles and tried desperately to blame the plight of these CNN reporters on their favorite target: President Donald Trump. But will it work?
Scandal, After Scandal, After Scandal
Over the past week, three CNN journalists found themselves embroiled in various scandals. For starters, Chris Cuomo invented a new racial slur when a heckler accosted him in public and filmed the encounter. The critic called Cuomo “Fredo,” a reference to the inept Corleone brother from The Godfather. Cuomo berated the man, threatening to throw him down a flight of stairs, and claiming that “Fredo” was somehow an anti-Italian slur. The journalist’s reaction was both criticized and defended by people from various ends of the political spectrum.
April Ryan came under fire when her security detail ejected a journalist from the fourth annual New Jersey Parent Summit, an event at which she was the keynote speaker. After filming the conference for three hours, Charlie Kratovil, an editor for New Brunswick Today, claimed that Ryan’s security guards forcibly removed him from the room. “I don’t know what the misunderstanding was, but I was definitely, you know, felt violated,” Kratovil said during an appearance on Fox News. Ryan later told the audience at the meeting, “When I speak, I don’t have news covering my speech.” According to Kratovil, another reporter attended the presentation.
Finally, we have anchor Don Lemon, who became the subject of a #Metoo – or perhaps #HeToo – scandal. Earlier in the week, news broke that the journalist is being sued for allegations of sexual assault. The plaintiff, a former bartender named Dustin Hice, is alleging that he met Lemon at a bar he worked at in Long Island. Hice offered to buy the anchor a drink, but Lemon refused. The lawsuit claims that Lemon later approached Hice and “put his hand down the front of his own shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his hand and shoved his index and middle fingers in Plaintiff’s moustache and under Plaintiff’s nose.” According to Hice, Lemon asked, “Do you like p**sy or d**k?”
Lemon denies the accusations. His spokesman claimed the former bartender has “tried to shake down” the anchor in the past. He also pointed out that, “The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts. This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon.”
Everything is Trump’s Fault
By way of response, Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison penned a piece for The Post titled “CNN increasingly sees itself as subject to threats after incidents involving Cuomo, Lemon, Ryan.” In the article, they paint a sympathetic picture of the horrific plight facing American journalists who are hapless victims of President Trump saying mean stuff about them on Twitter. Yes, the pen is mightier than the sword, but it appears Trump’s Twitter fingers are more devastating than any barrel of ink. They wrote, “CNN has repeatedly suggested the Cuomo encounter was ‘orchestrated’ to provoke the anchor-host. The network sees itself as subject to threats in the wake of relentless criticism and provocations from President Trump.”
The authors also noted that some journalists working with CNN “travel with security when reporting at Trump’s rallies.” So far, the most egregious assault on a reporter at a Trump event involved a participant shoving one member of the press covering the event. The assailant was promptly removed by security as other rallygoers castigated the man for his behavior.
In the case of Don Lemon, the authors spoke with a CNN executive who referred to the lawsuit as a “shakedown,” and blamed the fiasco on Trump. “We are living in a time where journalists are being confronted with orchestrated provocations on Sunday afternoons while out with their families, and shakedowns from people looking to make a quick buck,” he said. “All because of where they work and their commitment to holding those in power accountable. License to do so is being given from the highest levels of office in the country. It is dangerous, and it is wrong.”
Public sentiment towards the press has indeed soured since the 2016 election. President Trump routinely lambasts news outlets who skew their reportage against him. This apparent bias in the press has elicited criticism from the president and conservatives. But the notion that the situations in which these three journalists find themselves is the product of Trump’s presidency is easily shown to be absurd. The president didn’t force Cuomo to threaten a heckler with violence. He did not compel Ryan to have a journalist aggressively removed from her speech, and if the allegations against Lemon are true, it is highly unlikely that Trump made the reporter sexually harass a former bartender.
Perhaps The Washington Post would be better served by engaging in a bit of self-reflection. Is it possible that the conduct of the press over the past decade might be the reason why Americans no longer trust it? When media outlets publish deceptive reports, threaten everyday citizens, and promote baseless conspiracy theories to attack a president they don’t like, they should not be surprised to see a backlash.
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