The hot takes are flying after incendiary tweets President Trump posted over the weekend about the Queenie Quartet of Democratic Reps. AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, which many on the left, some on the right, and some in the mainstream media have characterized as “xenophobic” and “racist.”
It’s the day after now, and CNN‘s Brian Stelter has done an “analysis” of sorts on the media’s coverage of Trump’s tweets. In his newsletter this morning, he bragged about how CNN definitively labeled the tweets in question “racist” and chided other news outlets for the unpardonable sin of allowing readers to draw their own conclusions:
Trump’s racist tweetstorm
President Trump launched a bigoted attack against four minority congresswomen on Sunday morning. His tweets were straight up racist. Did the news media accurately describe it that way?
By and large, no, most major news outlets did not do that. Reporters and anchors took the story seriously but largely leaned on “critics,” primarily Democrats, and cited their accusations of racism. The significance of Trump’s words risked being lost in a partisan fog.
He said/she said is a tried and true journalistic technique, of course, but it is insufficient at a time like this. If telling Democratic congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” isn’t racist, what is?
There were some exceptions — CNN chief among the news outlets — that called out this example of racism emanating from the highest office in the land in an authoritative, institutional voice. CNN’s banners and headlines said “racist rant” and “racist attacks.”
The headline for CNN‘s primary piece on the tweets was: Trump tweets racist attacks at progressive Democratic congresswomen.
The piece published at CNN this morning by Stelter analyzing the story is basically a reposting of all the “points” he made in his newsletter.
Stelter’s nauseating backpatting of himself and his network would be far more impressive if he and the CNN team applied the same standards to Rep. Ilhan Omar‘s and Rep. Rashida Tlaib‘s unquestionably anti-Semitic remarks that they do to offensive comments made by President Trump.
But they don’t.
Take, for example, this piece from early February, where CNN took great pains to carefully explain why Omar and Tlaib say and do the anti-Semitic things they do:
Omar along with Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress, are indeed changing the conversation on Capitol Hill over the United States’ long-standing relationship with Israel by speaking out critically against the Israeli government over its treatment of Palestinians.
As they challenge the political status quo over Israel in Washington, Omar and Tlaib are facing intense scrutiny and criticism, in particular from Republicans eager to exploit divisions in the Democratic Party.
Got that? Omar’s and Tlaib’s anti-Semitic remarks are “indeed changing the conversation” and “challenging the political status quo” on our country’s relationship with Israel, but not in the way that CNN portrays it (the whole piece was like that, by the way).
Here’s another piece from around the same time:
Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota publicly apologized Monday after she faced backlash for tweets condemned by both sides of the aisle as anti-Semitic.
Omar’s statement came on the heels of one from House Democratic leadership calling on Omar to apologize for comments they said included “anti-Semitic tropes.”
Note the qualifiers there. “Condemned by both sides of the aisle as anti-Semitic” – but not definitively declared as “anti-Semitic” by CNN. “They said included ‘anti-Semitic tropes'” – but CNN did not characterize them as “anti-Semitic tropes.”
Stelter noted in his Monday newsletter that “he said/she said is a tried and true journalistic technique, of course, but it is insufficient at a time like this” – yet he found the technique sufficient at a time when Omar and Tlaib were spouting off anti-Semitic tropes with regularity, endorsing anti-Semitic movements, and associating with anti-Semitic figures without apology.
If Stelter were an authentic man of his craft, he’d call out his own network’s duplicitous nature when it comes to using qualifiers to describe controversial comments and demand consistent standards across the board. But he’s not.
Stelter’s media firefighter “standards” are designed only to motivate his fellow journalists to move even further to the left in terms of their coverage and commentary of Trump and Republicans. He does not do this out of any sincere altruistic desire to see the national media earn back any of the credibility and respect they’ve lost over the last several years.
Nice try, Mr. Stelter. But some of us see right through you.
— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –