Video: Stewart rips CNN for Navy Yard coverage

posted at 12:41 pm on September 18, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Just as it is with most breaking-crisis stories, the media had its fumbles on Monday during the Navy Yard crisis, some of which is just to be expected when we demand the latest breaking updates as they occur — as opposed to the days when we just waited for the evening news, or on rare occasions the “special reports” that would interrupt regular network-broadcast programming.  Even with that understanding, though, some aspects of the coverage deserve to be skewered — and Jon Stewart focused on one outlet in particular that appears to have a more difficult time with these crises. In this hilarious segment, the Daily Show rips CNN, but this pretty much applies to the industry in general (via The Week):

Stewart actually started out the show with his media-criticism finger pointing at all the cable news networks. Collectively, he pointed out through a “wrongnado” video montage, they managed to get nearly everything about the Navy Yard shooting wrong. This is classic Stewart: He distilled cable news “down to its crunchy center” and showed a split-screen of a baboon masturbating and Frankenstein raging incoherently.

The next 15 minutes of the show, however, are aimed squarely at CNN, which takes the prize for its “sheer accumulation of breathtaking wrongness,” Stewart said. This starts out as a standard-issue Daily Show critique of the “make sh*t up” ethos CNN seems to apply when it comes to breaking news about gun violence.

But then Stewart had an epiphany — or spawned a conspiracy theory, take your pick. CNN sows this confusion on purpose, because their botched coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing really juiced their ratings. Stewart played an interview of CNN chief Jeff Zucker kind of conceding that point, though Zucker attributes the ratings boost to CNN’s post-Boston display of humility.

“The lesson they take from this is, it doesn’t matter how much they betray our trust, we’ll keep coming back,” Stewart concluded. “We’re in an abusive relationship with CNN!”

The “Force 5 Wrongnado” is clever, even if the sniping at the talk shows is very much off point. The rest of this is spot on, including this segment that parodies news coverage in crisis mode:

 

This dovetails pretty nicely with my column at The Week on the media’s reaction to these crises, but I’m more concerned about what media demagogues do with unsubstantiated “facts.” There is no hesitation to jump on hobby horses while stories continue to unfold. That kind of shameless exploitation did a lot more damage to CNN’s credibility than the speculation during the event did:

During the crisis, the media began reporting that the shooter, who ended up murdering 12 people in the Washington Navy Yard, was using an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. The AR-15 had been used in other mass shootings, which may be why some start off assuming that any mass shooting involves a semi-automatic rifle in general, and the AR-15 specifically. (The AR-15 and its knock-offs are among the most popular firearms in its class, with as many as 3.7 million privately owned in the U.S.)

However, in this case the assumption proved incorrect. On Tuesday morning, the FBI confirmed that the shooter used three weapons, none of which were an AR-15 or even a semi-automatic rifle. Instead, law enforcement found two pistols, apparently taken from victims of the massacre, and a shotgun that the assailant brought with him to start the shooting spree. CNN, however, initially chose to note that fact within a profile of how the AR-15 has been used in other mass shootings, oddly burying the lead.

Too bad that some people, including hosts on CNN itself, didn’t bother to wait for that information before using the poor reporting to reinforce their own agendas. Mike Lupica at the New York Daily News wrote an entire column about the evil AR-15 to argue for an assault-weapons ban that wouldn’t have stopped this massacre. He called the weapon the rifle “for the sport of killing humans,” which is utterly mystifying considering the vast number of AR-15s in private hands and the rarity of this “sport.” The Daily News ran a huge front-page headline that claimed “SAME GUN — DIFFERENT SLAY,” which as Politico’s Dylan Byers noted after the FBI’s statement, “sort of complicates things … for the New York Daily News.” Well, only if it takes its credibility seriously.

CNN’s Monday night line-up offered a couple of more pratfalls on journalistic credibility. Anderson Cooper’s chyron crew repeatedly asserted that the shooter had “legally purchased an AR-15 shotgun” while Cooper and his guests discussed the shooting. That reporting was based on nothing at all; it later was established that the shooter had once rented an AR-15, but was not in possession of it at the time of the shooting. That pales in comparison to that evening’s show with Piers Morgan, who repeatedly insisted that the AR-15 had been used in the crime, arguing for a new assault-weapons ban because of it, and shouting down his guests when they attempted to disagree.

The next day, Morgan shifted his argument to this: “Lots of confusion over exactly what guns Wash Navy Yard shooter used. But do you think it matters to the victims?” It mattered to Morgan the night before, and it matters to those pushing an assault-weapons ban, some of whom — Vice President Joe Biden among them — argue that people should buy shotguns instead of AR-15s for home protection. Had Morgan waited to launch his latest jeremiad for gun control, perhaps he could have crafted an argument that actually fit the facts.

At least the mistakes made during the event were mainly not malicious. That can’t be said for the demagoguery that followed much later at CNN.


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Your side John.

Bmore on September 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Sorry, Jon.

Bmore on September 18, 2013 at 12:46 PM

But.. he’s just a comedian, right?

faraway on September 18, 2013 at 12:50 PM

…perhaps he could have crafted an argument that actually fit the facts.

Facts? Since when did facts matter. It’s the agenda, baby.

BacaDog on September 18, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Since when do facts matter to the bozos at CNN or to a tool like the little whiny Lupica. Lupica has to be the shrillest self absorbed douche on record or in the top 3.

major dad on September 18, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Real Ballsy Jon Leibowitz.

reddevil on September 18, 2013 at 12:59 PM

“We have a report here which says the perpetrator of the crime used a flamethrower and a chain-gun taken from a Cobra II attack helicopter.”

-Actually, Bob, he used a regular steak knife to stab his victim to death.

“Well…uh…we still need to ban AR15′s.”

Bishop on September 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Not Malicious? I disagree, the television media has shown time and time again that it will craft the story as it sees fit to achieve it’s desire of dismantling the Republic.

PXCharon on September 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

“We’re hearing reports that the shooter is apparantly a registered Democrat and voted for Obama in the last election. Is there anything we can draw from that in terms of initial conclusions?”

Ace ODale on September 18, 2013 at 1:06 PM

“We have a report here which says the perpetrator of the crime used a flamethrower and a chain-gun taken from a Cobra II attack helicopter.”

Bishop on September 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Was that a semi-auto or full auto flamethrower, and was it an AR-15 assault chain-gun?
We gots ta know….

dentarthurdent on September 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

“We’re hearing reports that the shooter is apparantly a registered Democrat and voted for Obama in the last election. Is there anything we can draw from that in terms of initial conclusions?”

Ace ODale on September 18, 2013 at 1:06 PM

I would say that’s clear evidence that you have to be bat-shiite crazy to vote for Obumble.

dentarthurdent on September 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Not a problem. CNN need only push this meme:

“Since there was no AR15, all laws were followed and the perpetrator black, wasn’t Alexis the real victim here? Obamacare could have saved him.”

And all will be forgiven/forgotten (again).

ROCnPhilly on September 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Clown nose off.

thebrokenrattle on September 18, 2013 at 1:15 PM

Thers’s something happening in Haiti

db on September 18, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Thers’s something happening in Haiti

db on September 18, 2013 at 1:18 PM

In the future, would kindly note when you’re linking to a production of a leftist puppet organization such as The Onion.

/just sayin’

M240H on September 18, 2013 at 1:31 PM

CNN, however, initially chose to note that fact within a profile of how the AR-15 has been used in other mass shootings, oddly burying the lead.

No, they’re burying the lede.

DarthBrooks on September 18, 2013 at 1:39 PM

I would say that’s clear evidence that you have to be bat-shiite crazy to vote for Obumble.

dentarthurdent on September 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Well, using my engineer/science skilz, I submit that since 1) all these shooters are crazy, and 2) they have been almost uniformly Demos, that 3) Demos should not be allowed to have guns since they are crazy. I’d say that’s a solid hypothesis.

GWB on September 18, 2013 at 1:39 PM

This network was created by Ted Turner, not Ike Turner

Bravo Jon Stewart. The coffee was coming out of my nose on that line.

simkeith on September 18, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Well, using my engineer/science skilz, I submit that since 1) all these shooters are crazy, and 2) they have been almost uniformly Demos, that 3) Demos should not be allowed to have guns since they are crazy. I’d say that’s a solid hypothesis.

GWB on September 18, 2013 at 1:39 PM

I concur fully with your in-depth analysis and hypothesis.
Does tha mean we now have consensus – and thus the science is settled?

dentarthurdent on September 18, 2013 at 1:46 PM

I argue with one assertion by Ed in the original article. We do not “demand” instant reporting and analysis from the TV news folks. We are “fed” it.

I can speak only for myself, but I would much prefer that they take their time, get their facts straight, and then tell us what happened. We know that will never again be the routine for the simple reason that there is too much air time to fill.

Any natural, catastrophe, crime, or other event that will provide fodder for the 24/7 news monster will be exploited instantaneously and uncesasingly.

The mantra now is “get it out there now (preferably with the organizational or personal bias), correct it later if you must”.

Oldflyer on September 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM

We do not “demand” instant reporting and analysis from the TV news folks. We are “fed” it.

Oldflyer on September 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM

That may have been the way it started, but we demand instant constant news now. I noticed it on here Monday during the shooting. People in the comments were reporting the “facts” that were being said on whichever network and other people rushing to watch those networks because the one they were watching was behind the news curve.

Johnnyreb on September 18, 2013 at 2:11 PM

….dumbass!

KOOLAID2 on September 18, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Not going to watch the Jon Stewart video, but I’m curious: did he call out the anchor who said they’d never heard of such a thing as a mass shooting at a military facility? I wonder if Liebowitz himself remembers Fort Hood.

joe_doufu on September 18, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Agenda journalism isn’t interested in “facts”.

GarandFan on September 18, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Does that mean we now have consensus – and thus the science is settled?

dentarthurdent on September 18, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Of course! (Consider your comment “peer-reviewed”!)

GWB on September 18, 2013 at 3:15 PM

There may be a racial motive for Mr. Alexis’ rampage on Monday! Heard anything about that in the LSM? Probably not.

tomshup on September 18, 2013 at 3:25 PM

The real point is that he was sure he could make jokes about any of this. Just hours away from people tragically losing family members Jon Steward found comedy material.
This is the sickness. Not gun control or politics. Laughs on Television about Murder.

Observation on September 18, 2013 at 4:06 PM

This is the sickness. Not gun control or politics. Laughs on Television about Murder.

Observation on September 18, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Well, look at the desensitizing that has been going on for years in this respect.
It seems to me like more than half of all prime time TV shows now revolve around murder.
How many different shows are there now centered around cops, NCIS, CSI, drug gangs, drug makers/dealers, etc etc….?
And the most popular video games are all about murder as well….

dentarthurdent on September 18, 2013 at 4:33 PM

What a bunch of fuc*king idiots. Stewart’s evisceration is complete and spot-on.

And another thing — how does a stupid, short, fat, bald guy like Zuckerman become a zillionaire news head? Is it the Z? Not too many Zs out there but the people who have them seem to be weirdly successful — Zuckerman, Zuckerberg, Zolton, Zetterberg, the guy who invented Zircon and Zinc.

What’s the deal?

Jaibones on September 18, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Stewart draws 30 comments.

Meh.

BobMbx on September 18, 2013 at 6:05 PM

If Cheney had told American’s to buy shotguns and then a psycho shot up a shipyard with a shotgun, I wonder (not really) whether the media would be blaming Cheney for the deaths.

And yet, Biden escapes all mention.

Carnac on September 19, 2013 at 9:27 AM

I will give Stewart his due. His is an unrepentant libtard, but he can call his shots honestly. CNN is as bastardly worthless as FoxNews, and he calls it precisely.

CNN = Commie Faggot-ridden sewer of stupid.
FOX = Hilariously stupid superstitious Christian News Network, which for some unexplainable reason, always picks up footage of Bigfoot.

Yeah. Challenge me. I dare you.

[In all honesty, however, their chicks are breathtaking. Kimberly Guilfoile. MUNCHABLE!!!!!]

thejackal on September 20, 2013 at 10:52 PM