Ana Navarro vs. Meghan McCain: Is CNN "very balanced"?

Via the Free Beacon, what a silly debate. CNN must be “very balanced,” says Navarro, because they frequently have anti-Trumpers like her on debating pro-Trumpers. But that can’t be the yardstick for “balance.” Fox has had Democratic panelists on day and night for years to debate Republicans. By Navarro’s standard, and contra every left-wing talking point about Fox for the past 20 years, that would make Fox “balanced.” It isn’t, because it clearly has an editorial point of view notwithstanding the political diversity of its guests. Same goes for CNN. I defy you to watch it at any hour and conclude that the anchor is neutral towards Trump and his party. How could they be? He calls them “fake news” on an almost daily basis.

That would have been a better argument by Navarro. “How can CNN be balanced when the president has made a foil out of it?” Or a more refined argument: “CNN is balanced with respect to conservatives generally, if not towards Trump.” That would also be a lie — see their townhall lynch mob towards gun-rights supporters after the Parkland shooting for an example — but it’d be less ridiculous on its face than claiming it’s balanced generally. Or Navarro could have taken the leftist consensus position and argued that CNN shouldn’t be balanced towards Trump or the GOP because he’s bad and they’re bad and their defenders should be banished from the airwaves or whatever.

Personally, though, I think she missed her best defense. How can CNN be biased against Trump, Navarro might have said, when they showered him with free coverage during his campaign? They helped make him a political phenomenon after Jeff Zucker had helped make him a television phenomenon years earlier by developing “The Apprentice.” It would be absurd to think that CNN couldn’t be biased against Trump now after being biased towards him previously (see, e.g., “Morning Joe”) but at least she’d be acknowledging her network’s sins in framing the question that way.

As for Meg, I’m surprised she took the bait by naming CNN when Navarro and Michael Avenatti (yes, like Zelig, he shows up on this program too) started complaining about Fox. The true left-wing counterpart to Fox is MSNBC, of course. CNN makes a pretense of neutrality but MSNBC really doesn’t. Their primetime anchors are as staunchly liberal as Fox’s are nationalist. Rachel Maddow pulls ratings among The Resistance almost the size of Hannity’s on the right. In fact, you could plausibly argue that there are more liberals in prominent on-camera roles on Fox — Shep, for one — than there are conservatives at MSNBC. Here’s the network’s daily line-up. Who’s the right-leaning Shep Smith counterpart in that gallery? Don’t say Scarborough: He spends 100 percent of his time obsessing about Trump’s delinquency nowadays. So does Nicolle Wallace, who, if anything, is more vehemently anti-Trump than Morning Joe is.

The salient difference between Fox and MSNBC isn’t that one leans more heavily in one direction politically than the other, it’s that one is an arm of the White House (at least in primetime) to a degree that no news network has been in my lifetime, as far as I can recall. Mainstream news outlets are always cozy with Democratic administrations but I can’t think of one whose big star consulted with the president daily and was known as his “shadow chief of staff.” Navarro could have made that point too. Not sure why she fell back on “balance” when no one believes that.

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