A San Diego television station has accused CNN of asking for a local perspective on the border wall debate, then backing off when the response didn’t fit the network's anti-Trump agenda.
“As a sign of the times in this debate on the shutdown, CNN asked if KUSI would provide a reporter to offer our local view of the debate, especially to learn if the wall works in San Diego,” a KUSI anchor Anna Laurel said on Thursday.
The McKinnon Broadcasting-owned KUSI is an independent station that is not an affiliate of a major broadcast network. It accused CNN of the agenda-driven maneuver both on air and on its verified Twitter account, which has over 62,000 followers. The network explained that it offered the services of veteran reporter Dan Plante, who has reported that the wall is effective.
“Knowing this, CNN declined to have us on their programs, which often present the wall as not required in other places like the stretch of the Texas border the president visited,” Laurel said. “They didn’t like what they heard from us.”
KUSI digital content manager Mike McKinnon III wrote on the network’s website, “We believe CNN declined a report from KUSI because we informed them that most Border Patrol agents we have spoken to told us the barrier does in fact work.”
McKinnon added that KUSI has “continuously been told by Border Patrol agents that the barrier along the Southern border helps prevent illegal entries, drugs, and weapons from entering the United States.”
A CNN spokesperson dismissed the incident as a "non story."
"That happens many times every single day," the spokesperson told Fox News. "We did, however, book a reporter from KUSI for a story on immigration and the border wall on CNN in November. This is a non story."
Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor told Fox News that “this kind of manipulation is what journalists have been doing for decades and CNN is a master at it.” Ironically, the accusation came as CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta was mocked by everyone from media watchdogs to President Trump himself for accidently supporting the argument that border barriers improve security.
Acosta posted a series of video from the southern border on Thursday meant to downplay Trump's claims of a border crisis, but he was quickly ridiculed because he claimed there was “no sign of the national emergency that the president has been talking about” and it was “tranquil” near him while standing at a section of the border that has a wall.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders even retweeted Acosta’s video with a proud response: “When I went with President @realDonaldTrump to the border today I never imagined @Acosta would be there doing our job for us and so clearly explaining why WALLS WORK. Thanks Jim!”
CNN has developed a reputation of being anti-Trump, as its programming is loaded with outspoken liberals and conservatives who openly disagree with the president. CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker has a long history with Trump and once helped increase his star power by greenlighting “The Apprentice” when he was an executive at NBC. Since then, Zucker and Trump have been in an ongoing feud that has resulted in the president calling CNN “fake news” on a regular basis.
“If I have to choose who is telling the truth, KUSI or CNN, that's easy. I've never seen KUSI lie. I've seen CNN do it tons of times,” Gainor said. “They hype the issues they want and suppress those they oppose. Look at the border. They send Jim Acosta to Texas to try and undermine the case for the wall. But they don't blanket their network with visits to the families of victims of illegal immigrant crime. If the media did that, Americans would swarm Washington demanding a wall.”
“Journalism, especially at CNN, is made up of thousands of actions by overwhelmingly liberal staff. Yet, we're supposed to believe the final result,” Gainor said. “Why?”
DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall told Fox News that there could be several explanations for what CNN has been accused of.
“It is possible that the contact with KUSI was from a lower level CNN associate producer or somebody who was just doing background and didn't have any real authority for agenda setting,” McCall said. “I think a big problem in reporting about border walls is that news organizations appear to be pushing simple narratives that walls either work or don't work. CNN's reports appear to take the ‘walls don't work’ approach.”
McCall said the matter is actually much more “complex and nuanced” than simply noting whether or not walls work.
“Reporting about the complexities of border security is difficult and the topic doesn't lend itself well to the general superficialities of television news,” he said. “The news reporting about a border wall or fence is currently being driven by emotion, which does lend itself to television, but is probably not the most effective way to be making public policy decisions.”