Accuracy in Media

One of CNN’s takes from the Senate impeachment trial, aside from President Donald Trump’s acquittal ending the trial, was that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) became a de facto leader of the “new old GOP.” Romney, who has consistently criticized Trump since 2016, was the sole Republican vote to impeach Trump on abuse of power charges.

CNN headlined its article, “Mitt Romney is now the head of the new old GOP,” which article praised Romney’s vote and its implications for a post-Trump GOP. CNN correctly addressed the GOP has a party “largely, inseparable from Trump,” but it also claimed that Trump conducted a “hostile takeover of the GOP” in his 2016 presidential campaign.

The article praised Romney for “his singular act of defiance” and that his impeachment vote told the country “an alternative version to Trumpism exists.” It also referred to Romney’s principles, not based in a single politician, but principles that “transcend any individual.”

“Romney may not have meant to start a movement. And he might not start one! But if there is ever going to be a post-Trump GOP, Romney’s actions this week will stand at its core.”

There are multiple omissions in CNN’s article, such as Romney’s history as a politician. The media mocked Romney in his 2012 presidential campaign was a flip-flopper. PolitiFact published a “guide to Mitt Romney’s flip-flops” that described many of the changes Romney has made over the years. One example of his flip-flops was on abortion and PolitiFact contrasted two of his statements on the issue. He once said that he believed “abortion should be safe and legal in this country,” but in 2012, Romney said that he was “firmly pro-life.” Flip-flops like this one do not portray Romney has a politician of principle, which contradicted CNN’s assertions that Romney was a principled politician.

Another omission was Romney’s opinions on Trump, which spans back to 2016. In a speech at the University of Utah, Romney called Trump a “con man.” Romney has made similar comments since his 2016 speech, such as his comments to the news outlet Axios. He told Axios that he believed Trump appealed “to racism and misogyny” and that Trump’s move to withdraw from Syria was “[a] very dark spot in America’s history.” CNN did not mention any of Romney’s criticisms of Trump in its article.

Also, CNN lacked evidence to prove its point about Trump’s alleged hostile takeover of the GOP. A hostile takeover, according to Investopedia, is when “the acquisition of one company (called the target company) by another (called the acquirer) that is accomplished by going directly to the company’s shareholders or fighting to replace management to get the acquisition approved.” CNN’s claim did not match Investopedia’s definition and nor did CNN explain it to its readers.

CNN’s article omitted important information about Romney’s criticisms of Trump, in addition to its portrayal of Trump’s alleged “hostile takeover” of the GOP. It lacked context and failed to accurately describe Romney’s standing in the GOP to its readers, thereby failing its audience in being a trustworthy and accurate news outlet.




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