Report: CNN wouldn't have Kellyanne Conway on this weekend due to “serious questions about her credibility”

Man alive. When was the last time a major news org turned down an appearance by a senior White House advisor because they didn’t trust him/her enough to tell the truth on air?

I assume there’ll be retaliation by the Trump administration in limiting CNN’s access. Is … that what the network wants?

Some, like the New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, were calling upon the television networks to stop booking her. And CNN declined to have her as a guest on Sunday — in part because the Trump administration offered her in lieu of Vice President Mike Pence, but also because of what the network told me were “serious questions about her credibility.”

It would be a positive development if Ms. Conway embraced the idea that the term “honest mistakes” can apply to reporters, too, as it would be if everybody — including journalists — doubly committed to getting the facts right, without hysteria or misfires. Too optimistic?

The “honest mistake” mentioned there is Conway having referred to the “Bowling Green massacre” in defense of Trump’s temporary refugee ban, even though there was no massacre. She was thinking of two Iraqi refugees who were busted in Bowling Green six years ago for trying to send money and weapons to Al Qaeda in Iraq in hopes of killing American soldiers. Conway corrected herself on Twitter days ago and claimed it was an honest mistake on her part — although, as it turns out, she’s made that same mistake more than once lately. The public scorn heaped on Conway for her “massacre” screw-up seems to have convinced CNN that some sort of probation was in order, which evidently led to her being rejected by “State of the Union” this weekend. Offhand I can’t remember that ever happening with an influential advisor to the president before.

But wait, there’s more. Via Mediaite, Conway attempted to smooth all of this over this morning by insisting that the Times report excerpted above is wrong. CNN didn’t ban her from the show. She had family obligations.

Fake news by the Times! Much ado about nothing. But wait — CNN, evidently wanting to make its disdain for Conway as clear as possible, replied to her on Twitter by insisting that she was in fact rejected by their Sunday show. And judging from Mika Brzezinski’s rejoinder, it ain’t just CNN that’s declined Conway due to credibility issues before.

The question: Why would CNN boycott Conway, even for only one day, instead of having her on and letting Jake Tapper go after her about the Bowling Green snafu? Why make a point of suggesting that she’s unfit for broadcast (especially when she’s destined to be back on CNN soon, possibly even today)? Could be that they’re trying to carve out a brand as the “tough” news network in the age of Trump. Fox News is mostly in the tank, MSNBC will do its usual caterwauling during a Republican administration, so CNN might be pitching itself to viewers who are uncomfortable with both the Fox and MSNBC approaches by “taking a stand for truth” and making a show of its spat with Conway. It’s of a piece with their scoop about Trump and Obama being briefed on allegations of Russian coordination with some of Trump’s advisors, of Jim Acosta interrupting Trump at his press conference last month to question him aggressively, and of Jake Tapper dismissively responding to Steve Bannon on air when Bannon advised to talk less and listen more. They’re building a niche as the news network (contra MSNBC, which skews overtly more towards opinion) that stands up to Trump. And if Trump retaliates by cutting off their access somehow, so much the better. That’s good PR for the network. They might not peel off any O’Reilly or Tucker Carlson viewers over that, but they may get a look from the Hayes/Maddow crowd.

Here’s Conway on January 29th talking about the, er, “Bowling Green massacre.”