Accuracy in Media

CNN framed the ongoing Seattle protests and activists’ takeover of a city neighborhood as “peaceful,” despite that some of the protesters appeared to be armed and conducted security checkpoints without government oversight.

The protesters called their zone the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or “Chaz.”

The cable news network headlined its roundup on Seattle’s autonomous zone, “Seattle police want to return to vacated precinct in what protesters call an ‘autonomous zone.’” The article framed the autonomous zone as a place comprised of peaceful protesters, quoting Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

CNN reported that Seattle police want to go back and reclaim the neighborhood, which contains the police department’s East Precinct building, but that Seattle officials rebuffed the police’s plans. CNN also noted the ongoing rhetorical back-and-forth between Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and President Donald Trump, when Trump criticized Durkan for letting “ugly Anarchists” rule the streets.

Seattle police confirmed that protesters set up barricades and that there were reports of “some armed individuals running them as checkpoints into the neighborhood.”

Though Washington is an open-carry state, Seattle Assistant Police Chief Deanna Nollette said, “There is no legal right for those arms to be used to intimidate community members.” “No one at these checkpoints has the legal authority to demand identification from anyone,’ she added.

CNN’s characterization of the Seattle’s autonomous zone was different from the reality on the ground. The cable news network said that the protesters were peaceful and solely cited the state’s governor’s opinion. Although CNN acknowledged the presence of armed checkpoints, it did not stray from its view that the protesters were peaceful even though the protesters were conducting illegal armed checkpoint activity.

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