Accuracy in Media

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) announced Friday that he is ending his long-shot primary challenge against President Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. The announcement came after the Iowa caucuses, in which he received only 1 percent of the vote.

Walsh told CNN’s John Berman, “I am ending my candidacy for President of the United States. I got into this because I thought it was really important that there was a Republican — a Republican — out there every day calling out this president for how unfit he is.” CNN said that Walsh had a “slim to no chance of defeating Trump,” but it did not stop CNN analyst Chris Cillizza from predicting last year that Walsh would impact the 2020 race.

In August 2018, when Walsh declared his primary candidacy, Cillizza said that Walsh “could make some real trouble for Donald Trump.” Although Cillizza acknowledged that Walsh had no shot of winning the GOP primary, he said that if Walsh could “get in the president’s face every day” by going on cable news shows, it could distract Trump from other priorities.

Cillizza said Walsh “could have an influence” in 2020 by repeatedly unnerving Trump on cable news shows. Other than Walsh attempting to provoke the president on cable news, Cillizza never came to a concrete argument on how cable news appearances could alter Trump’s re-election campaign or political strategy.

Ultimately, Walsh’s campaign did not distract Trump from his re-election campaign and it failed to impact the 2020 race as Cillizza predicted. His prediction fell flat in six months after Walsh’s entrance into the 2020 race and so far, Cillizza has not admitted that he was wrong in predicting Walsh’s outsized impact in 2020. Journalists should be accountable for their predictions and what they say, and Cillizza has yet to analyze what went wrong in his prediction about Walsh’s campaign.

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