Every time Donald Trump accuses CNN of promoting “fake news,” the network whines that the president is “attacking the press.”
But what happens when the network really does create fake news?
A Department of Homeland Security spokesman lashed out at CNN on Friday, labeling as “fake news” the network’s report that hundreds of Transportation Security Administration screeners at the nation’s airports have been staging a “sick out” this week amid the partial government shutdown.
In a tweet, DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton accused the network of failing to validate its data and not reaching out to agency officials for verification.
More #FakeNews from @CNN. Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out. CNN has the cell numbers of multiple @TSA public affairs professionals, but rather than validate statistics, they grossly misrepresented them. https://t.co/PzVeoIBt5R
— Heather Swift, DHS spokesperson (@SpoxDHS) January 4, 2019
I’m shocked, shocked, I say, that CNN failed to “validate its data” and didn’t try to verify their story.
If you’ve seen the film All the President’s Men, you know that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein never went with a Watergate story unless they had it confirmed by three sources and then allowed the White House to respond.
But these days, what passes for “journalism” only requires that you “feel” the story is true for it to go public.
TSA did CNN’s legwork for them and clarified the story:
The TSA, meanwhile, tweeted a more measured response that said employee absences began over the holidays but have had minimal impact on security operations.
“Call outs began over the Holiday period and have increased, but are causing minimal impact given there are 51,739 employees supporting the screening process,” the tweet said. “TSA is grateful to the agents who show up to work, remain focused on the mission and respectful to the traveling public.”
Not only that, many employees who called in sick were out looking for work during the shutdown. Fox reports, “One unnamed federal official said the call-outs seemed to be part of a coordinated protest, but union officials said many employees who called out sick were most likely looking for alternative employment to make up for lost wages.”
Nuance, detail, verification — these are basic elements of any good news story by any decent reporter — unless you are serving a political agenda. I think we know where CNN stands on that.