It’s hard to get more misleading than this.
Mediaite and my old CNN colleague and fellow Red Sox fanatic John Berman stepped up and said something so wildly misleading that it needs to be politely called out.
Yesterday, Fox’s Laura Ingraham interviewed President Trump in France.
Here was the disgraceful Mediaite headline:
CNN’s John Berman Calls Out Trump For Laura Ingraham Interview: She Just ‘Defended an Anti-Semite’
The story, by Mediaite’s Caleb Ecarma, said, in part, this:
CNN’s John Berman called out President Donald Trump for sitting down with Fox News host Laura Ingraham this morning, as she recently used her show to champion white supremacist Paul Nehlen after he was banned from social media for sharing violent, racist content.
Berman made the remarks while discussing Trump postponing ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day Thursday today by 15 minutes so he could appear on Ingraham’s show.
“A lot of that politics led right up until the moment the president gave his speech because not minutes before he walked on that stage he sat down for an interview with Laura Ingraham, who in the last few weeks on her show has defended an anti-Semite, Paul Nehlen, who spouts anti-Semitic views and white supremacist views all the time,” Berman observed.
Catch that line? This one: “… before he walked on that stage he sat down for an interview with Laura Ingraham, who in the last few weeks on her show has defended an anti-Semite, Paul Nehlen, who spouts anti-Semitic views and white supremacist views all the time.”
Over at the Washington Post was this headline:
Laura Ingraham promoted a white supremacist on her show. At least one advertiser is pulling out.
Stop. Full stop. And yes, full disclosure I have occasionally appeared on Laura Ingraham’s show, have known her off and on over the years. We are also both Reagan White House alumni.
So let’s set the record straight. What Laura Ingraham did on her show was support free speech — not the content of the speech in question. She never, ever defended the views of white supremacist Paul Nehlen. Not once. That is just flatly untrue and all one had to do was watch the segment to see just how grossly untrue this charge was.
In fact (but who cares about fact?), the Ingraham Angle graphic was based on a report from the Associated Press that headlined:
Facebook bans ‘dangerous individuals’ cited for hate speech
The AP report quite specifically said this:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After years of pressure to crack down on hate and bigotry, Facebook has banned Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and other extremists, saying they violated its ban on “dangerous individuals.”
The company also removed right-wing personalities Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, along with Jones’ site, Infowars, which often posts conspiracy theories. The latest bans apply to both Facebook’s main service and to Instagram and extend to fan pages and other related accounts.”
So the Ingraham Angle posting was based on this AP report. Question for Mediaite, John Berman, and the Washington Post: Was the AP anti-Semitic for posting Paul Nehlen’s name? After all, the AP put the words “dangerous individuals” in quotes. Suggesting what? Support? Suggesting they aren’t “dangerous individuals”? The AP story — and the Ingraham Angle posting based on that AP story — is what is called dealing with fact. Not support for content — fact.
Here is the Ingraham Angle segment — as posted on YouTube by, yes indeed, none other than Laura’s own Ingraham Angle show. If she actually did what she was falsely accused of she would hardly have the entire segment posted for all of Internet eternity to view.
The segment, with Candace Owens of Turning Point, was about the increasingly rampant censorship of social media directed towards conservatives, Trump supporters and anyone else who is seen as out of step with the left-wingers who run Silicon Valley. If one is a regular viewer of the Ingraham Angle, as I am, this is a subject Laura has discussed many, many times. As, for that matter, have I. She is a staunch believer in what John Berman’s CNN insists that they support — free speech and a free press.
In the course of the segment, an 8-picture graphic of people who have been censored by one or another left-wing social media behemoth was flashed onscreen. The eight people were: Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, Candace Owens, Michelle Malkin, Dan Scavino, actor James Woods, and Paul Nehlen.
Laura’s exact words were these:
Ingraham: “These are some of the people they have shunned. Are you in there?
Owens: There I am! (Laughter)
Ingraham: But its people who believe in border enforcement, people who believe in national sovereignty…
Owens: People who believe in black America.
Ingraham: Oh yeah, heaven forbid! Black conservatives. Keep them out of it. Back of the bus for you! But Candace, I think this is going to be a moment, though, for us to stand up to these censors. They are the new censors.
Owens: That’s correct. And it will backfire as I said. We’re going to it in 2020.
So the obvious question? Where in there did Laura defend anti-Semitism? Obvious answer — she never said a word about it.
To be crystal clear, she never defended Paul Nehlen’s obviously racist and anti-Semitic views. Not once.
Again. To defend everyone’s right to free speech in this country is hardly the same as defending the content of what a person says with that free speech.
A while back, CNN president Jeff Zucker accepted a “First Amendment Award.” In his acceptance speech he had these lines:
We are here tonight to celebrate the First Amendment and oh how do we love that First Amendment. If we could we’d kiss it like Donald Trump kissed that flag.
By the standards of Mediaite, John Berman, and the Washington Post, Jeff Zucker just endorsed every publication out there that uses the First Amendment to push whatever racist, sexist, anti-Semitic garbage they wish to spout. Here are a few examples of publications that exist because of the First Amendment that Jeff Zucker celebrated: The Crusader, published by the Ku Klux Klan. The Daily Stormer, described in Wikipedia as a publication of American neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Over here is the website of the Communist Party USA.
One could go on with a very long list of publications and websites that print or spout utter garbage. To suggest that because the President of CNN supports their free speech — and his support of the First Amendment by definition does just that — most assuredly does not mean that he endorses what they say. That is ridiculous on its face.
Yet there is Mediaite and my friend John Berman and the Washington Post blithely asserting that to defend Paul Nehlen’s free speech is to endorse what Paul Nehlen says. Which is flatly untrue, and was, in fact, never said at all by Laura Ingraham.
In sum? This Mediaite story, John Berman’s remarks, and that Washington Post story are exactly examples of why this story made news the other day. Over at Axios the headline was:
Poll: Americans view fake news as a bigger problem than terrorism
The story says in part:
Americans view made-up news and information as a bigger problem than other critical issues, including terrorism, immigration, climate change and racism, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.
Why it matters: The survey finds that Americans feel more worried today about fake news because it’s undermining their trust in key institutions, like government and the media.”
Which is to say, what was said by Mediaite, John Berman, and the Washington Post about Laura Ingraham was 110% fake news. Utterly and completely false. And it is a sterling example of just why so many Americans have long since lost their trust in the media.
Retractions and apologies coming to Laura? Don’t wait up.