Putting aside the massive scandals that have engulfed CNN over false claims that had to be corrected, and fake news stories that had to be deleted, retracted and apologized for as well as the forced resignations from the fake news story, CNN's Chris Cillizza decided to participate in an "Ask Me Anything" at Reddit on Tuesday.
1) What was he thinking? 2) What possibly could go wrong?
In regards to the first question, only Cillizza could tell us what on earth he was thinking and why he thought it would be a good idea to have an open interview at a site that had declared war on the organization that Cillizza works at, namely CNN.
As to the second question, things started going "Hilariously, Tragically, Horribly Wrong," in the words of the Daily Caller, even before the event started.
A quick note on Cillizza which will explain the references in some of the questions he was asked before and during the AMA. He evidently has a weird fixation on his colleagues feet as he posts pictures of them on his Twitter account, even though he is supposedly the "editor at large for CNN politics," and he seems to have another fixation on President Trump's "handshakes," to which he creepily wasted time on a whole article detailing a "second-by-second analysis of the Trump-Macron handshake." (Archive.is link here to that "news")
A look through the actual Reddit AMA thread, despite many of the questions having been deleted by moderators and/or Cillizza (not sure how they handle those interviews), gives us a glimpse into the mindset of journalists today as Cillizza drops a few truth bombs that further destroys the medias credibility.
For example, the back and forth over Cillizza's decision to waste time on an article detailing the "second-by-second analysis of the Trump-Macron handshake," where a Reddit users asks "Chris, have you considered the fact that your reporting style of repeated and absurd focus on completely inane subjects, like 'an analysis of the Trump-Macron handshake' not only makes us all collectively stupider, but fundamentally devalues the role politics has in shaping our lives in favor of absurd horserace coverage that focuses on inside baseball to the exclusion of real working families?"
Cillizza's answer includes three points, one he is not the only reporter, then he attempts to justify focusing on a handshake and how it is part of "theater," and "vital" part of how they cover elections.
1. This would be a problem if I was the only reporter at CNN -- or the only political news reporter. Lucky for all of us, I'm not! There are hundreds -- thousands? -- of us. That means you can pick and choose what you read and what you don't -- and get the news even without (gasp!) reading me.
2. I think to dismiss the Macron-Trump handshake as "completely inane" misses an important element to politics: Theater. There is NO question that Trump views handshakes as a power move -- a chance to assert dominance. And, there is also NO question that world leaders -- Macron, Trudeau etc -- are now briefed and ready for the Trump handshake. So, to say it is meaningless misses the mark.
3. I don't believe "horserace coverage" is absurd. I think it's a vital part of how we cover elections. Notice I said "vital" not "only." If all we had was horserace coverage, then, sure, it wouldn't be enough. But we have MUCH MUCH more and we report on MUCH MUCH more.
Note- CNN published not only Cillizza's second by second coverage of said handshake, but on the same day, a different reporter, Daniella Diaz, also wasted time and space on the same handshake, in a piece titled "Watch never-ending handshake between Trump and Macron."
Another user responds to Cillizza's assertions with a three-point rebuttal that pretty much sums up the state of journalism today:
1. Excusing your lack of taking the tremendous platform you've been given with a "Hey, you can read someone else if you want analysis and stuff" is pretty dubious. The fact is, you're making a conscious decision to elevate the inane and frivolous during one of the most turbulent eras of American History. That's your choice, but you have to live with it, not shirk it off.
1. The Macron-Trump handshake is only "Theater" or a "Dominance Display" because of people like you. If you didn't cover it, no one would give a damn how the two of them shake their hands. You're literally the reason for it.
3. Again, you're shirking your responsibilities and the ramifications of your actions.
Game. Set. Match.
Others also pointed out Cillizza's flawed justification for reporting "theater," instead of news. One states "Yeah, but you only focus on the theater and try to make theater the most important thing. Which is obnoxious and helps dumb down America. Politics shouldn't be pro wrestling," with yet another telling him "You are literally saying that what you do is a problem, but because there are others doing real journalism at CNN it's ok that you get paid to write dribble that undermines all other political reporting."
Perhaps the most important point seen in this AMA interview is not the jokes, or the trolling of Cillizza by conservatives (most of which were deleted), but the criticisms by obvious liberals and Clinton supporters, showing that it is not just Republicans and Trump supporters, who most likely wouldn't watch CNN if you paid them, but how their own "base" is turning on them as the majority of questions left after moderators deleted many conservative-leaning questions and comments, were anti-Trump, anti-conservative in nature.
For example, one user lists over 30 headlines critical of Hillary Clinton of articles written by Cillizza himself during the election, and asks "I'm wondering if you think that your relentless hammering of Hillary Clinton over a bunch of supposed "scandals" that went nowhere (along with your obvious Bernie-bias) helped turn people against Clinton, and put Trump in the White House?"
There was no response to that and a slew of other questions by liberals which were critical of Cillizza's reporting about Clinton and blaming that type of reporting for her loss.
MSM ALTERS 'PERCEPTION' IN ORDER TO TRUMP REALITY
One of the most telling questions was "can in any way be damaging to the public dialogue?, which deals with Cillizza's own assertion in a 2014 article, where he stated "My job is to assess not the rightness of each argument but to deal in the real world of campaign politics in which perception often (if not always) trumps reality. I deal in the world as voters believe it is, not as I (or anyone else) thinks it should be."
The questioner then points out the following: "Seems to entertain the idea that truth is ultimately unimportant in the face of perception. Could it be that this placating of misinformed voters has contributed to the current post-fact predicament? By gliding over the "rightness" of an argument aren't you abdicating the basic tenet of journalism?"
Despite the fact that the moderators butchered the thread itself with constant deletions, leaving it almost solely with complaints from liberals, that right there gets to the heart of what is wrong with the MSM today..... perception trumps reality.
It explains the "fake news" stories where corrections and editors notes come days, weeks and in some cases months after the original stories went viral, as was the case with the constant drumbeat in the MSM of "17 intelligence agencies concluded Russia" meddled in the election in favor of Trump, where both the AP and NYT finally issued the truth that only three intelligence agencies contributed to that report and it was collated by the ODNI.
The original false assertions altered reality, went viral, liberals are still repeating the claim, with CNN reporters like Jim Acosta still refusing to acknowledge the truth even after the AP and NYT issued their corrections.
In stories published April 6, June 2, June 26 and June 29, The Associated Press reported that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump. That assessment was based on information collected by three agencies – the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency – and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all U.S. intelligence agencies. Not all 17 intelligence agencies were involved in reaching the assessment.
After those corrections were issued, President Trump referred to the false assertions by multiple MSM outlets of 17 intel agencies, accurately citing "three or four" agencies, as both the NYT and AP admitted, and CNN's Jim Acosta went live on air and claimed it was "fake news," stating "The other thing that was fake news coming from President Trump is he said, 'Well, I keep hearing it is 17 intelligence agencies who said Russia interfered in the election. I think it is only three or four.' Where does that number come from? Where does this three or four number come from. My suspicion, Chris and Poppy, is that if we go to the administration, and ask them for this question, I'm not sure we're going to get an answer, and if we do, it will be off camera."
In the minds of the MSM nowadays "perception is reality," and they believe it is their job to influence that perception by sacrificing truth, issue a correction or "clarification" much later after misinforming their audience because they believe it is their "job to control what people think," as stated outright by MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski.
One last example from the Reddit AMA interview with Cillizza of a question to which I haven't found a response by Cillizza, but shows that even those that live in other countries recognize the basic dishonest practices being used by the MSM to attempt to alter perceptions in order to influence the general populace and to control the masses, using polling as an example.
Hey Chris, I'm not an American but I do have a question regarding polling in USA and telling the news about it. Its quite different in Australia.
During the 2016 election and up until today with the recent '36% approval rating' polls, almost every single poll published on CNN cites polls with a +10 to +12 sampling bias towards those identifying as Democrats. I dont mean 12 democrats than republicans per hundred. I mean straight up 39% of respondents being democrat when nationally it is 27%. It is statistically impossible to poll thousands of people, multiple times and to consistently get an average 11 point margin of error. Countless anecdotes were published of people being rung up by polling companies, only to be hanged up on when they said they planned to vote for Trump and you would have known this. You can't claim ignorance as to why the polls you cited were always beyond a 10 point margin of error.
Do you feel like you have a responsibility to ensure that you only report on polls which you know are accurate? I don't understand how you or anyone in a high-up position of power at a news company can claim to have integrity when you tell the public polls which you absolutely know are extremely biased and deliberately do not inform the reader/viewer of the massive sampling bias. 3.5% margins of error are a bold faced lie and you know it.
To me, it's no different to a police officer going on the news and telling people that some escaped murderers have been caught when they're actually still on the run, simply to make people trust the police more. No, they have a responsibility to tell the truth and so do you.
In a July 2017 article at Breitbart News, titled "REVEALED: How Approval Polls and ‘Junk’ Journalism are Fake Views Pushed by Fake News," they highlight assertions made by author Christopher Hitchens, who in 1992 revealed the "racket" that is opinion polling, stating "Opinion polling was born out of a struggle not to discover the public mind but to master it."
That ladies and gentlemen explains the anger of Clinton supporters and liberals across the board when Donald Trump won the presidential election 2016. The MSM continuously touted polls they knew were skewed with over-sampling of Democrats, declaring that Hillary Clinton would win, doing so for no other reason than to alter perception, so when Clinton lost, their audience was blind-sided. They wrote article after article, did segment after segment of live news, informing their readers there was nothing to worry about, Clinton would win.
Worse yet, they were so sure their "altered reality" and deliberate attempt to influence the masses with their fake polls, would work, that they themselves were blind-sided when it didn't and completely melted down after Trump won.
In my opinion one of the most disturbing patterns I noted in going through the Reddit thread of the AMA with Cillizza, is that the liberals didn't call them out on their altering perception before the election just to deliver the exact opposite result they practically guaranteed their audience. They didn't call them out on the skewed polling data that led to such anger and disappointment for liberals. They didn't call them out for their "fake news" (unless those were the questions that were deleted), which they are still reporting.
They are not angry at the MSM lies, or that they continue to do so.... they are angry that it didn't work.