It’s been a tough couple of weeks for CNN. First, an assistant to CNN chief Jeff Zucker was overheard on an airplane literally declaring war on the Trump administration. A few weeks after that, a CNN host thought it would be fun to stage a mock beheading of the president of the United States. Then CNN utterly botched its reporting on whether former FBI director James Comey would contradict Trump’s claim that Comey told him on three separate occasions that he was not a target of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) counter-intelligence investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
CNN spent hours breathlessly reporting, based on claims from anonymous sources, that Comey would publicly slap down Trump’s claim under oath. In fact, Comey did the exact opposite, and directly confirmed Trump’s claim. So how did CNN respond to its earlier reporting? Did it make a full correction? Of course not.
Instead, CNN inserted a paragraph into a story claiming that “Comey does not directly dispute that Trump was told multiple times he was not under investigation.” Comey directly disputed CNN’s false reporting and literally confirmed the exact Trump claim that CNN said was false, and CNN’s response to that inconvenient turn of events was to assert that Comey did “not directly dispute” Trump’s claim. Okay, then. The URL on the piece still reflects its original premise.
It doesn’t stop there, though. After the attempted mass assassination of Republican lawmakers practicing for the annual Congressional baseball game–one of them is still in critical condition after undergoing his third surgery on Thursday–CNN head honcho Jeff Zucker went public and announced that he had found the real victims of overheated political rhetoric. No, not the Republicans who were actually shot by a crazed progressive Democratic activists. According to Zucker, the real victims of all this naughty talk are journalists. Zucker even claimed that criticism of the media is “unconscionable and dangerous.”
Then, on Thursday afternoon, CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy (who spent the hours following the attempted Alexandria massacre complaining about a competing media organization’s employee non-compete policies) attacked the Drudge Report for attacking the New York Times‘ disgusting and false editorial blaming Republicans for getting shot and Sarah Palin for inciting the near-murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in 2011. Rather than retracting the entire ordeal, which was premised on the demonstrably false claim that Giffords’ shooter was motivated by Republican rhetoric, the New York Times instead issued a legal CYA statement pretending to be an apology. The paper’s non-apology apology was roundly condemned.
CNN’s media reporter, however, was intent on defending the honor of the New York Times:
why let facts get in the way of things pic.twitter.com/dekLQsz4yt
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 15, 2017
“[W]hy let facts get in the way of things?” he snarked.
Why, indeed? Curiously, Darcy seemed uninterested in CNN’s inability to correct its own false reporting on the Alexandria shooting. CNN falsely reported early Thursday morning that the rifle used by the Alexandria shooter, an SKS chambered in 7.62×39, was “a Chinese-made AK variant.” This is demonstrably false, and it’s an error with significant implications given U.S. gun laws.
In the U.S., fully automatic rifles like the AK-47 are heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and require a hefty tax, a lengthy waiting period, and an extensive background check that includes photos and fingerprints. The SKS, a Soviet rifle developed and issued several years before Kalashnikov designed his AK-47, is not fully automatic. It is a semi-automatic weapon that contrasts sharply, both in form and function, with the AK-47. And even if the two firearms were functionally similar (they’re not), it would be impossible for the SKS to be a variant of the AK-47 seeing as how it was developed years before the AK-47.
If the shooter had somehow legally obtained a fully automatic assault rifle, as former New York Times reporter Jim Roberts glibly asserted based on media reports, that would be a huge story. Assault rifles, which are capable of fully automatic or burst fire, are heavily regulated and prohibitively expensive. If the ATF had authorized the shooter to obtain such a weapon, that would be a news story with significant implications. If the shooter, who had reportedly been living out of a van for months, had somehow obtained the cash necessary to obtain an AK-47 variant, that would be a significant development. That’s why it’s so important for reporters, even if they personally hate guns, to accurately report on gun types, features, and laws. It’s impossible to have an honest national debate about the topic if the debate is informed entirely by false reporting.
When confronted with CNN’s false reporting on recent matters such as the Comey testimony and the style and function of the weapon used in Alexandria on Wednesday, CNN’s Darcy responded with even more snark. Instead of moving quickly to correct the egregious errors as a way to prove that CNN is serious about publishing facts instead of fiction, Darcy did the exact opposite.
“Not playing your game man, but have fun!” Darcy replied. When asked if it was official CNN policy to treat basic editorial standards as a game or if refusing to correct demonstrable errors of fact was network policy, Darcy did not respond.
not playing your game man. but have fun!
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 15, 2017
The original CNN article was published at 12:17 a.m. on Thursday. As of 3:50 p.m., when this article was published, the CNN article remained uncorrected despite multiple requests for a correction.
Then again, this is CNN. Why let facts get in the way of things?