The bitterness over this election still runs deep. The Clinton campaign is engaged in patently illegal activity in participating in the Wisconsin recount requested by the Green Party, and, as Dan Spencer reported, they are engaged creating their own Dolchstoßlegende whereby Trump was swept into the White House by white supremacists. On the GOP side, the still-present divisions became very obvious at the same conference when CNN’s Jeff Zucker tried to defend his network’s atrocious and very Trump-centric programming:
But the room grew more and more animated as Zucker went on to say that many campaign managers thought it was “unfair” how much coverage and attention Trump was getting.
“I have to respectfully push back on the campaign managers who spoke here today, because frankly, respectfully, I think that’s bullshit. Donald Trump was on CNN a lot,” Zucker said, refusing to back down. “That’s because we asked him to do interviews and he agreed to do them. We continuously asked the other candidates to come on and do interviews.”
Zucker, who described an interview Sen. Marco Rubio did on CNN, where he later objected to a question about abortion and religion and subsequently refused to appear on air for 10 weeks, said they invited all candidates to come on and talk, even by phone.
The room grew increasingly restless and the strategists started piping up, interrupting Zucker and Issenberg.
“I don’t remember getting invited to call in, though,” Sarah Isgur Flores, Carly Fiorina’s deputy campaign manager said, kicking off a parade of comments.
More irritated voices across the room quickly chimed in: “We didn’t get that call.” “We’d be invited for eight seconds.” “At 2 o’clock in the afternoon we’d be invited on,” another said sarcastically.
“All of the Republican candidates were invited to come on,” Zucker said. “Cable news in general, CNN in particular, should not be held responsible for the fact that Donald Trump said yes to those interviews.”
“It’s not the interviews,” Rubio senior advisor Todd Harris said as another audience member shouted, “You showed empty podiums!”
“You showed hours upon hours of unfiltered unscripted coverage of Trump, this was not about interviews,” he added.
What Zucker has done here is engage in a degree of historical revisionism that would make Josef Stalin blush.
What he’s doing is comparing apples and oranges. Inviting Rubio on to be flogged on abortion and religious freedom is not the same as covering a couple of hours of a Trump rally without commentary. CNN simply whored itself — because in terms of quality whoring is all it has going for it — to the Trump campaign in return for a sugar rush for its ratings.
Though CNN might have been the worst offender because it was also in the most desperate financial straits of any news organization, it was by no means the only offender. Collectively the broadcast/cable news outlets coughed up the equivalent of over $2 billion in free media exposure for Trump and the lion’s share of that was, as the Rubio’s Todd Harris said, unfiltered campaign commercials.
Hopefully the media learned something from this experience but I’m beyond the point in believing that guys like Zucker can learn anything or even care about journalism beyond what they can charge their advertisers. We’ll see how howling about white supremacists serves them over the next four years.