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CNN vs. Daily Caller on “the memo”

by Greg Krehbiel on 31 January 2018

There’s a lot of talk recently about which news sources are reliable and which are “fake news.” A friend posted a chart recently that took a typically liberal approach to the question. It gave CNN good marks and called The Daily Caller partisn junk.

I haven’t done any surveys, or fact checking, or any of that. I can’t say in any sort of comprehensive or global way which news sources are more reliable. I’m just an ordinary guy watching the world spin past me. But here’s a little data point for you as you think about that question.

This is what I posted on Facebook this morning based on my memory of a Paul Ryan press conference, which I heard in the car last night.

Last night I heard Paul Ryan reply to a question about this memo business. The reporter was wondering why Republicans are releasing their own memo, but not releasing the Democrat’s memo. And that sounds like a reasonable question, right? I’m sure most of us have heard the issue presented that way. On a party line vote they released the Republican memo, and on another party line vote they refused to release the Democratic memo. Not cool.

But according to Ryan, that’s a flagrant misrepresentation of what’s going on. He said there’s a process (11G?) that a memo has to go through. It’s something like (1) make it available to the entire committee, then (2) make it available to the entire House, then (3) have it reviewed by the intelligence community and scrubbed as necessary, then (4) consider releasing it (giving the president five days to say no).

Democrats had (according to Ryan) voted against even taking step one for their own memo, which only appeared yesterday, and now they want to rush to step 4. Republicans did vote to get the Democratic memo along in the process. I.e., starting at step 1. Which seems plenty fair to me.

Is that the way this story has been presented in the news? Not at all. So in case you wonder why conservatives view reporters as Democratic operatives with bylines, ….

Then when I had a little more time I looked up a couple stories on the subject.

The Daily Caller, which is usually pilloried as fake news, got it right, I think.

On the other hand, CNN chose to misrepresent the story.

The committee’s vote to release the memo spearheaded by Chairman Devin Nunes means that the four-page classified document could be made public this week. But in another party-line vote, the committee voted against making a competing Democratic memo from Rep. Adam Schiff of California available as well.

It’s not exactly false, but it’s entirely misleading. It puts the two memos on the same footing, which is not right. The Republican memo has been around for weeks, has been vetted, etc. Comparing the two as if they are equal …. There’s a word for that. I think it’s “lie.”

The CNN article does offer some useful clarification about process and such later in the story, and you can see that my summary is essentially correct. But in my opinion, making a false statement in paragraph 2 and then clearing things up a few inches down doesn’t rescue the article from being fake news.

2018-01-31  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 2

  1. Craig
    31 January 2018 @ 7:49 pm

    I’ve gotten to the point that I discount any story from any source that is based only or primarily on anonymous sources. Also, before I believe anything from CNN, NYT, or FOX (or more partisan publications), I need to see it corroborated by multiple other sources. (The only sources i take at face value now – that is, the ones I still trust – are WSJ and NPR.) Third, I give all stories 24 hours to bake. If they are not repudiated after 24 hours, I’ll take it more seriously.

    These guidelines save me a lot of time and heartache.

  2. Greg Krehbiel GregK
    31 January 2018 @ 8:01 pm

    Waiting 24 hours is a good idea. But sometimes it seems you need to wait months!

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