A Tale of Two CNNs: Acosta and Tapper Capture the Worst and Best Moments For A Network Struggling With Objectivity

In Thursday’s briefing, McEnany repeated President Trump’s call for children to go back to school in the fall.

“The science should not stand in the way of this, but as Dr. Scott Atlas said — I thought this was a good quote, ‘Of course, we can do it. Everyone else in the Western world, our peer nations are doing it. We are the outlier here.’ The science is very clear on this. For example, you look at the JAMA pediatric study of 46 pediatric hospitals in North America that said the risk of critical illness from COVID is far less for children than the seasonal flu. The science is on our side here. We encourage localities and states to just simply follow the science. Open our schools.”

She is clearly citing the science as supporting the position of the Administration. However, Acosta clipped the statement to make it sound like McEnany was dismissing the relevance of science:  “The White House Press Secretary on Trump’s push to reopen schools: ‘The science should not stand in the way of this.'”


That was clearly and absolutely false.  However, Acosta knew that it would play well in the eco-journalistic model adopted by CNN.  He quickly racked up 30,000 retweets.  He then later added that McEnany actually meant the opposite. That received less than 700 retweets. It is the ultimate example of the demand of many viewers to only hear news that supports their own bias and adds to a type of journalistic comfort zone.

To Acosta’s credit, he sent out the second tweet, but saying “McEnany went on to say ‘the science is on our side here'” does not quite capture the scene.  The quote was McEnany referring to a scientific study and, right after the line quoted, McEnany said “The science is very clear on this.” She then two lines later added “The science is on our side here.” The entire quote was McEnany raising a scientific study that supports their position.  It is akin to a McEnany saying “National security is not relevant because the Defense Department report supports this policy” only to have Acosta tweet “The White House Press Secretary: “National Security is not relevant” in White House policy.

Over at CNN headquarters however Tapper stepped out of that comfort zone and corrected CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta after he repeated the same false narrative that McEnany was having an “alternative facts kind of moment.”

Tapper responded: “If I could just say, Sanjay,. I think she was just trying to say that the science shouldn’t stand in the way because the science is on our side. I don’t know that all of the science is on their side- and certainly, this White House, their respect for science knows bounds, let’s put it that way, but I think that’s what she was getting at.”


That is why I remain a fan of Tapper.

I have many friends still at CNN who privately lament the changes under President Jeff Zucker, who admitted that the unending focus on Trump was part of his effort to boast ratings.  It is often impossible to distinguish CNN hosts from advocates on their programs. Hosts now engage in open advocacy against the President — discarding with the pretense of having a guest take a partisan position.  I truly miss the old CNN.  Many people feel that there is simply no source of objective news in this environment and are turning off the coverage.  The loss to journalism is immense.  Indeed, if anything, it may be driving people to Trump.

It is clear that Zucker will continue the echo-journalistic model for ratings, just as the New York Times recently abandoned its own journalistic objectivity.  Yet, there remains a a lingering presence at CNN where journalistic objectivity once was the rule.  Call it a “phantom limb” sensation or muscle memory, but it is a reminder of what CNN should be.

188 thoughts on “A Tale of Two CNNs: Acosta and Tapper Capture the Worst and Best Moments For A Network Struggling With Objectivity”

  1. Despite the critics of Fox, it regularly has Juan Williams, Jessica Tarlov, Richard Fowler, Leslie Marshall, Marie Harf, Donna Brazile, Mara Liasson, Jason Nichols, and others. Can CNN and other progressive news outlets match that? Liberals almost always present their side in discussions of issues. Through it leans right, Fox is much more balanced than the critics, who likely don’t even watch it, say.

    1. Yes, and CNN has Santorum and various other right wing, Trump fans. As on those you list on Fox, they are there to take their abuse and get paid. The “news”, now that Smith is gone, is relentlessly right tilted and the night time line up a wall of right wing screamers with alt right crackpot guests with some liberals for Carlson and Hannity to talk over.

      1. You name ONE person. There are others at Fox besides those mentioned. The point is, however, that in virtually every segment, whether paid or not, the liberal perspective is presented. That does not happen at CNN. Once again, the kneejerk is to label Fox because that is the perception, but it is much more balanced in it’s presentation. Just yesterday it was reported that James Murdoch and his wife gave $1.3 million to Biden. Can you provide an equivalence at the other networks?

        1. I said “others” and you know there are. I don’t watch enough of either to give you the names and don’t care enough to look them up.

          The segments I’ve seen – and i don’t watch much, so maybe you’re the expert – news or opinion (most of it) are not balanced and in fact subject matter is skewed right just as it is left on MSNBC and CNN..

          Murdoch’s campaign contributions are of interest, but not determinative. Fox knows it’s audience and like the guy who owns Dominoes probably doesn’t eat many pizzas, Murdoch knows who he is selling to.

          1. Can’t even name one other person? You admittedly do not watch, which may explain why you don’t know, so why write as if you do know? If you took time to discover the reality, you would see a discernible difference. As for Murdoch, why must you speculate about his motivation? You don’t know that either. Too often, people make judgments based on what others say or report, but it’s easy to discover when someone lacks knowledge about the subject. So much of the talk about Trump is just parroting what guys like Acosta, supposed journalists, say. Good luck with that.

            1. edevotion, make it interesting by claiming there are no right wing shills on CNN to take a beating like the liberals on Fox and I’ll do the work to embarass you.

              Is that what you are saying?

              I’m not speculating on Murdoch’s motivation. He’s in business to make money, which he has successfully done now for decades. I’m in business. You know your market and you deliver or you don’t survive. Any questions?

              1. BTB

                why is so hard to admit that you shot your mouth off without knowing what you’re talking about. If you don’t want to do that, then just slink away for a few days and come back under a new handle.

      2. Santorum. I remember that guy. Not smart! A dolt, in fact.
        of course CNN has him as their controlled opposition.

        1. The dolt in question manages to earn enough of a living to support eight children. He also managed to get elected to Congress multiple times selling 200 proof social conservatism to a blue state electorate.

          1. No body said that being the CNN in house right wing dolt didn’t pay well.

      3. At least FOX doesn’t pretend that Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham are news anchors.

    2. Trump world stopped granting interviews to both CNN and MSNBC. It was a policy decision — not only would Trump not venture outside the Fox stratosphere, his administration and surrogates wouldn’t either. Trump personally decided to not expand his base once in office, then so did the rest of his administration.

      1. Trump is smart enough to understand there is a billionaire globalist strategy to get rid of him and it’s largely executed through the mass media and social media that the globalist combine controls. He isn’t going to kiss their backsides because they hate him and they want to get rid of him. He’s got enough backbone as a leader to not cooperate in his own downfall naively.

        That’s all it is. You can think what you like about it. But that’s reality.

        1. Nah the billionaires make money off the boy in various shapes and forms. Trump is just a one gear racist campaigning to other one gear racists and hoping there enough of them to pull another inside straight in the electoral college with Russian help again.

          What he can’t get around is that last time around was a low turn out election for a perfect storm of reasons. While at one time I thought he might be able to pull off another EC tko while losing by even more popular vote than before this time, I’m thinking it’s just a straight up rout by the Dems, top to bottom, in ’20.

          1. “a one gear racist campaigning to other one gear racists”

            Says the obvious racist.

            You’re just a guilty dog barking first, and loudest, Bugs. But you’re too unintelligent to realize that you give yourself away.

            People like you are the types that tell you unprompted how honest they are. Those are the people you know to avoid.

  2. I like Tapper as well, Professor, although he can step to the tabloid journalism side a bit these days. Case in point, I believe it was in interviewing Gretchen Witmer, where he had her on for ostensibly different circumstances but later dove into her past as a sexual abuse survivor and acted like that was not the reason he was interviewing her — and it clearly was.

    Splitting hairs with this one though, JT. Whatever trap Kayleigh caught herself in linguistically speaking, the fact is the Trump administration is ignoring the ‘science’ from around the world around the issue of opening schools to physical classes in the fall. The Trump administration is clearly taking the herd immunity tact while trying to play it both ways and align with countries that did the work of disease mitagation. Big point to leave out of your story, although it’s a valiant attempt to move Trump talking points through a subtle fallacious syllogism — one that will slip under a lot of people’s radar. So compliments on that (I guess???).

    The best comparison of the U.S. now, on a federal level, is to Sweden, because the minute Trump saw their herd immunity approach he saw a way of being able to do nothing in response to Covid, his preferred method of dealing with anything. The fact that, despite not ‘closing down’ the Swedish economy is no better off than the economies of surrounding European countries while being correspondingly worse off on the health front due to their lack of mitagation tends to put a different face on herd immunity efficacy. That whole philosophical and scientific angle is lacking from the rationale you use in criticizing CNN.

    And then there’s your blatant lack of criticism of Fox news for, basically, *anything ever*. That’s where your bias comes out to play.

    1. In fact bug, JT has zero standing as a media critic as his is in only one direction and constant – almost daily. That’s propaganda, not criticism.

      1. Exactly. But just remember, he voted once for a democrat. Lol. Pretty lame cover, actually — but it clearly works around here.

        1. I have voted for them too. More than one, and In many more than one local election, where they were effective public servants.
          it just so happens, thank God, there are a lot of patriotic Americans who are Democrats who actually serve the public well!
          Probably the bigger the city, the worse the Democrats who get elevated, however. In small cities, there are plenty of good ones.

          Not named Pelosi, Biden, or any of the other craven pack of federal parasites who want to cram me down and take my stuff,, flood the nation with migrants, release criminals from jails, sustain the wars, give more free trade to china, blame their failures on Russia, blame covid on Trump, encourage riot and looting, etc. That’s the Democrat national leadership in a nutshell!

          Now to be fair I skipped out of voting for Republicans in federal elections too a lot of times, because they were pretty much the same. But Trump, I voted for and will vote again for with enthusiasm. I will be taking a jaundiced eye look at down-ballot Republicans as I always do, however, because they are shitfy chickenstz mostly, still, I have decided. They better prove their mettle.

      2. His standing is just the same as ours: the opinion of a citizen. .EKWALZ! lolz

  3. I used to respect Jake Tapper as a journalist who didn’t play the “infotainment” game. But clearly, purposeful deceit of the viewer is part of CNN’s business model – CNN is the modern leftist equivalent of a Hearst yellow broadsheet newspaper. The only difference between Tapper and Jim Acosta is that Jake tapper occasionally knows remorse for what he and his network do, while Jim Acosta lies to his viewers remorselessly and relentlessly.

    I am not a great fan of Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden, Mrs, Clinton or anyone else that’s been thrown up (in every sense of the word) by the two major political parties as prospects for the presidency. Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care if people who with ordinary resposibilities in life care for the job he does in the White House, or he’d be more careful about what he does and says. He spends a great deal of time on Twitter that he ought to be spending learning about the challenges of his job and the issues confronting our country.

    That said, Donald Trump’s got no worse in the way of cognitive deficits than any other man his age. You can’t say that about Joe Biden. I suspect the DNC plans for Biden to very publicly, shoiuld he win the Presidency, discover he can’t do the job, invoke the 25th Amendment, and turn his office and his power over to someone we’d never elect to the presidency. Because of that, I willl support Donald Trump for the presidency this year. He hasn’t done that awful a job this term. I sincerely fear what a DNC-groomed candidate would do in that office – the Democrats have clearly decided on a strategy of punishing the American citizen for supporting Trump with street violence by their “peaceful protesters”l until we relent and turn power over to them. We deserve what happens if we allow that.

    Jake Tapper is intelligent enough to see what I’ve described. But he lends his considerable talent to a network that packages infotainment, pushes a leftist agenda, and deliberately manipulates its viewers. In my time in Big Pharma I’ve listened to friends and colleagues complain about “chains of gold” that keep them working for firms which are ethically hollow. So I’m not unsympathetic to Jake Tapper, and I don’t know what else he can do in his current situation. But he’s got far to go before I believe his reporting again.

  4. The news media is full of dumb smokers. Why don’t they talk about the 485,000 deaths each year from smoking?
    Went in dumb, come out dumb too.

  5. Jake Tapper let Adam Schiff regularly come on his show to knowingly and intentionally spout blatant falsehoods and outright lies about Russia collusion for over two years! Tapper offered no pushback or correction and simply let the sociopathic Adam Schiff go unchallenged on his show. This is why Jake has fully earned his moniker, Fake Tapper. He’s a faker. He’s on Fake News Channel CNN. Enough said.

  6. JT falsely ends his daily attack on 24/7 cable news not named Fox by then attacking the NYTs “journalistic objectivity” but without naming how. The recent controversy at the NYTs is around it’s opinion pages, a separately run facet of the NYTs, which remains the newspaper of record with journalists and desks around the world collecting news and reporting it. It’s opinion pages are not nearly as important and like any opinion section never claim “journalistic objectivity”. Even with that, they continue to publish regularly conservatives like David Brooks, Brett Stephens – both originally with the WSJ – and Ross Douthat.

    JT has no standing to criticize any media outlets for not being objective since he does not practice objectivity himself, and especially regarding media outlets.

  7. For those who are bringing up FOX, just be patient because I am sure Prof. Turley will find a case to take on FOX. Perhaps he has already done so in the past.

    I watch FOX and CNN, which allows e to get essentially both sides of an ideological issue. Lately though, my effort has been hampered because every time, I go to CNN to get its view on a particular subject, CNN is on Covid-19.

    1. No Steve. I have been regularly visiting JT’s site for probably a year now and have never seen one column critical of Fox news. Not a week goes by without multiple criticisms of either or both CNN and MSNBC.

      By the way, Covid-19 is producing more health and economic damage to America – and the world – than any event since at least the 2008 crash and will almost certainly surpass that. Of course it should be thoroughly covered.

      1. bythebook: Thanks. But how many angles are there to the number of infections, number of deaths, masks v masks and so on? FOX covers Covid-19, but with an eye on many other items of news.

      2. Yet CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, the NYTimes, WaPo, etc, never cover this:


        In fact, they purposefully avoid covering the fact that Covid deaths have plummeted since late April.

        So your “health” argument is BS.

        As to the economic damage.

        Why didn’t the exact same things (lockdowns, social distancing, destruction of countless businesses) immediately happen in 2009 when the WHO declared H1N1 a Level 6 Pandemic, same as Covid?

        The answer is obvious. Can you provide an answer, BTB?

        1. You are dumb and naïve if you believe that a lower death rate should be credited to the fat slob, that mainstream media haven’t been reporting it, or that it means we should just pretend there isn’t any pandemic crisis and go back to life as usual, so here we go again: Coronavirus deaths are down because of DOCTORS who discovered that Remdesivir, an antiviral developed to combat Ebola, works. Scientists tried various other anti-virals, on a whim, including those for HIV/AIDs, just to see if there could be some cross-benefit. Doctors also, on a whim, decided to violate medical protocols and tried using 100% oxygen, coupled with Dexamethosone, a corticosteroid, to see if this would reduce the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation, which would improve the chances of survival. 100% oxygen is generally contraindicated because it can cause oxygen toxicity, which includes knocking out the respiratory drive, but the lungs of coronavirus patients are so roached that an excessive amount of oxygen doesn’t get through and result in toxic effects. That treatment works, too and improves the chances of survival. Trump has nothing whatsoever to do with these discoveries.

          A lower death rate does not mean no risk. People still die of coronavirus, and those who don’t die still suffer a lot of pain, incur a lot of medical expense, lose time from work and have after-effects. They have permanent scarring in their lungs. Even after recovering, patients still have episodic fevers, pain, “brain fog”, inertia and extreme tiredness. What is the long-term effect of having this virus? No one knows. It is better not to get it in the first place.

          I know this is some slop you heard on Fox. You should stop listening to them, because they mislead you, and if you believe that a lower death rate means you’ll be OK to skip wearing a mask, fail to social-distance or otherwise ignore CDC guidelines, then you are really gullible

      3. A year? Steve may not know this, but you have been on this site far longer than a year. Tell him what other user names you’ve posted under and why those names are no longer allowable on this site.

        and have never seen one column critical of Fox news. Not a week goes by without multiple criticisms of either or both CNN and MSNBC.

        What you’ve actually seen (facts/evidence) could fit in a thimble compared to your Grand Canyon-sized imagination of what you’ve imagined you’ve seen since you and your other names have been on this blog. If JT is critical of CNN and MSNBC and not FoxNews, there is ample evidence to prove why; your myopia just won’t allow you to see it.

        1. Olly, I note you don’t argue with my true statement that JT NEVER criticizes Fox.

          One other name Olly, because we don’t all have the protection of our alt-right moderator that you and others enjoy.. Thanks for bringing it up.

          1. I note you don’t argue with my true statement that JT NEVER criticizes Fox.

            Why should I? It’s a statement I would expect from one of my children when I’m punishing them for bad behavior. You NEVER punish Tommy when he does something wrong! Boo Hoo. Turley is objectively critical when it comes to the media. If he lacks criticism of FoxNews, that may be a clue for you that once again, you’re on the wrong side of the facts and evidence.

              1. I’ll agree that JT doesn’t criticize FoxNews if you agree his criticism of the other news outlets is objectively warranted.

  8. It might have been Tapper who called the town of Ferguson “a ghetto”.

  9. CNN panders to the left by appealing to TDS.

    Fair enough, lacks integrity but may be a viable business model

    My contempt is for the Pinkos who like being lied to.

    The irony is that their votes count as much as a thinking person’s vote.

  10. CNN struggling with objectivity is still way better then FOX, which was founded on the idea of being partisan. It rings hollow JT when you critizine CNN, but say nothing about FOX.

    1. You must live on another planet. CNN is a piece of garbage and makes no pretense to be a News outlet.

    2. “CNN struggling with objectivity”

      The Clinton News Network has never struggled with objectivity, Molly.

      How well I remember Ted Turner and Bubba Clinton holed up together in Ted’s penthouse at the CNN Center for over a week during the 1996 Olympics on a major bender, with high priced call girls coming and going on a daily basis.

  11. JT apparently has never heard of Fox , or judges it perfect. Given that he is so fair and balanced, we can only deduce that MSNBC and CNN are alone in possessing an editorial view and not hiring perfect journalists.

  12. CNN’s business model (and that of other MSM outlets) has been revenue maintenance by moving into the territory once occupied by Daily Kos and other elements of what we called ‘the nutroots’ 15 years ago. Don’t think it’s working out for any of them, but they haven’t any better ideas at this time.

    It’s just another manifestation of how awful is our ruling class and how unworthy they are of previous generations.

  13. Tapper has finally found his pair, however it is a late find. Acosta is a petulant child who should have his credentials revoked by the WH. CNN in NOT a new organization, it is a propaganda organization.

      1. Independent Bob – things change over time. Dinosaurs used to roam the Earth. Now, you hardly ever see one.

  14. Tapper did not say that his colleagues were not telling the truth about an incredibly important topic. All he said was “but I think that’s what she was getting at.” There’s nothing at all unclear about what she said. Tapper is just trying to make himself look “objective” while keeping alive the completely false contention that the Trump White House is ignoring science. CNN long ago willingly traded any semblance of journalism or objectivity for a shot at better ratings. Now they have neither.

    1. “Tapper is just trying to make himself look “objective” while keeping alive the completely false contention that the Trump White House is ignoring science.”

      Beginning, middle, and end of story.

      I have no idea why Jonathan doesn’t also see that the same way?

      Tapper is not a reporter/journalist. He’s just a shill for the DNC, and he doesn’t even attempt to hide that fact.

      1. Rhodes, I suggest that if want the news and not opinions, read any number of reputable sources and maybe watch the PBS Newshour. Those sources would include the AP, Reuters, NYTs, WSJ, Bloomberg, and the WaPo for beltway coverage. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox know their market – bias confrimation – and aim accordingly. This should all be obvious to you.

        1. PS The most intelligent and informative of the 24/7 cable news shows by far is Fareed Zachari’s on CNN Sunday at 10 AM EST.. It is opinion and analysis on national and international issues – not usually the typical warring partisan BS – but with intelligent experts, not politicians with talking points. He has conservatives like NIall Ferguson and the discussion is without emotion or partisanship.

          1. BTB- It’s Fareed Zakaria, not “Zachari”.

            It’s obvious that you’ve never really spent a lot of time reading his articles or watching his show on CNN, if you don’t even know how to spell his name.

            I used to watch Fareed’s show, and have met him. But he has morphed into just another CNN-DNC shill.

            That came back to bite him in the ass in a large way when he made the mistake of misquoting Putin, to Putin.


            Fareed looks like he doesn’t know whether to sh*t, or go blind. He’s a poseur.

            1. Thanks for the spelling check Rhodes, but I probably watch Fareed every other week and am never disappointed in the intelligence of the discussions he moderates. His guests are always experts in whatever the topic is, and never the typical Sunday morning party mouthpieces with the talking points. I encourage anyone who is interested in the issues to watch.

          1. The utility of British services is that they employ actual reporters, they employ reporters and editors whose skills were honed by working within British libel laws, and they’re not incorporated into the American political spectrum (where ‘journalists’ act to squelch stories which reflect badly on Democrats). So, I look at the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph to tell me what’s up in Atlanta. They do have other biases. They called it “Al-Reuters 15 years ago for a reason.

  15. I am certain Zucker and Acosta will be nowhere to be seen by 10 pm ET November 3 when Biden concedes and Pelosi realizes her new office will be located next to the dumpster in the Rayburn Building basement…

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