Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump gave his fourth State of the Union address, but this year, he introduced uncommon measures to play to the media, his supporters, and the American people. CNN criticized his alleged theatrics at the speech and called it “defiant showmanship.”

In an analysis headlined, “Trump makes dazzling, divisive reelection pitch in State of the Union,” CNN called Trump a “grand political illusionist” who attempted to sway Americans “at a fraught moment in the nation’s history.” The cable news network added that Trump is “an effective, relentless political communicator who will stop at nothing to win.”

Already, the reader could read the mix of hyperbole and political opinion in the analysis. To begin, most politicians are effective and relentless political communicators, or else, how were they able to convince voters to vote for them? Also, the claim that American is “at a fraught moment” is biased because it inferred that Trump’s presidency spelled trouble for America’s democracy.

CNN criticized Trump for snubbing a handshake with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before he began his speech and said the snub “encapsulated their boiling bad blood.” But CNN refrained from criticizing Pelosi’s own theatrics when she tore up Trump’s speech on-camera. Instead, the cable news network said it was “a sure-to-go viral moment.”

Trump also awarded a Medal of Freedom to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh during his speech, as well as reunited a soldier home from the Afghanistan war with his wife and children. Trump awarded a scholarship to a young minority student during the speech before the cameras. CNN called the military family’s reunion “his most brazen political base play yet.”

When Limbaugh was awarded the Medal of Freedom, Democratic lawmakers allegedly shouted, “No!” But CNN failed to criticize the Democratic lawmakers who voiced their opposition to Limbaugh — vocal opposition that could be interpreted as disrespectful. It was rare for lawmakers to shout their disagreement, when the custom usually dictated that lawmakers remain silent if they disagreed with the speech’s content.

CNN’s analysis outlined reasons to criticize Trump, but ignored reasons to criticize the Democratic Party lawmakers in attendance. It also blasted Trump for playing up theatrics on national television by awarding a Medal of Freedom on live television, reunited a military family, and awarding a scholarship to a minority student. The article’s bias was a disservice to all its readers.




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