CNN’s website has been accused by a variety of experts of using the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani to form a new anti-Trump narrative that Americans are in imminent danger, which critics feels is more about “building a mood of doom” than presenting facts.
DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall told Fox News that newsrooms should “be measured and develop coverage only on available facts” during times of international tensions that could lead to military action.
“Speculation, knee-jerk analysis and cheap shot accusations are not helpful in this context. Nobody can really know what will happen in the coming days, so talking about ‘could’ or ‘maybe’ is unhelpful. It is also unhelpful to give grandstanding politicians easy platforms to play war hawk or administration critic,” McCall said.
Recent headlines on CNN’s homepage include “Uproar and consequences mount after Soleimani killing,” “Opinion: Why the killing of Iran’s top general won’t ‘stop a war,’” “Crisis deepens after killing of Iran’s top general,” “Crowd chants ‘death to the US’ at Soleimani funeral,” “Huge crowds flood street for Soleimanu’s funeral, calling for revenge and retaliation” and a quote from Soleimanu’s daughter who said his death will bring “darker days” for the U.S. and Israel.
The liberal website also featured former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper bashing Trump, commentary from Trump critic Joe Walsh and a look at Democrats who disapprove of Trump’s Iran-related tweets.
“CNN has developed a pretty clear track record of going after Trump," McCall said, "which is their journalistic prerogative, but CNN owes it to the nation's citizenry to keep its Iran reporting as fact-based as possible, with analysis by informed experts who are looking at the particulars of the current situation and without necessarily trying to fuel the CNN narrative of damaging Trump at every opportunity."
NewsBusters executive editor Tim Graham took a quick glance at CNN’s homepage and concluded that its “news” reads more like a narrative, specifically headlines related to President Trump.
“Trump ’in danger of losing control of the political storm unleashed’ is all narrative," Graham told Fox News. "This sounds like CNN is writing a potboiler political thriller, not a news story. It sounds like it's less about organizing facts, and more about building a mood of doom. It sounds like constant editorialization from the 'Facts First' network.”
Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor told Fox News that it’s “infuriating” how CNN has covered the story.
“Where was the round-the-clock CNN coverage when Iran and Soleimani were killing 600 American troops and wounding or maiming hundreds or even thousands more? Where was CNN when Iranian-backed militia attacked the U.S. Embassy in Iraq? Either of those could be considered an act of war and the U.S. media didn't seem to think so,” Gainor said. “Except President Trump instead treated them like an act of terror and removed the terrorist responsible. The media elite expect our military to take infinite casualties and never strike back so they can sit in their fancy newsrooms and bash America.”
Mediaite columnist Caleb Howe examined a specific CNN article on Saturday, blasting the liberal organization for concocting a “dire warning” to fit their narrative. Howe noted that a recent CNN had “a very compelling headline,” which was “syndicated to dozens of websites” and “rocketed across social media” after claiming that the Trump administration warned Congress that Iran could retaliate against the United States at any moment.
The article, article written by Zachary Cohen, Vicky Ward and Pamela Brown, was headlined “Trump administration warns Congress Iran could retaliate against US ‘within weeks.’”
“It conveniently reinforced CNN’s days-long narrative that in killing Qasem Soleimani, President Donald Trump has not only escalated the tenuous situation in Iraq, but dramatically increased the specific and imminent risk to Americans from Iran,” Howe wrote before noting that the headline and opening paragraph were misleading.
The body of CNN’s article quoted an official who said “the administration wanted to make it clear it couldn’t rule out retaliation within the next few weeks – or even months – given how Iran has historically responded” to similar acts of aggression.
“Not exactly ‘expected to retaliate’ as the first paragraph asserts,” Howe wrote. “Or limited to ‘within weeks’ as the headline tried to convince us, is it?"
The Mediaite columnist wrote that a more accurate headline such as, “Trump administration warns congress that it can’t rule out possible retaliation within weeks or months based on past experience,” wouldn’t have been as likely to generate traffic to CNN’s website.
“It is alarmism in purest form. What used to be known as ‘sensationalism’ or even ‘yellow journalism,’ and it has been CNN’s bread and butter for a while now,” Howe wrote.
"Extensive news coverage of the Iran dispute is warranted. But at some point extensive coverage becomes wishcasting that the result be politically damaging to Trump, and it's clear that CNN has crossed that line, just as it did on 'Russia collusion' coverage," Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson told Fox News.