Erik Wemple giveth, and Erik Wemple taketh away. The Washington Post’s media critic appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources yesterday, where host Brian Stelter learned the hard way not to ask questions when you don’t want the real answers. Stelter asks Wemple to assess the media coverage of Andrew Cuomo’s scandals, and at first Wemple blasts “the right-wing conspiracy theory” about mainstream media bias.
And then Wemple gives it to CNN between the eyes:
WaPo’s Erik Wemple calls out CNN for the Cuomo brothers love-a-thon interviews last year and for reinstating their ban on Chris Cuomo covering the governor.
— Matt Margolis (Gab/MeWe/Heroes: @MattMargolis) (@mattmargolis) March 14, 2021
STELTER: Wemple, how would analyze the media’s coverage up until now of Governor Cuomo?
WEMPLE: Well, it’s been pretty aggressive. I mean, you’ve had significant contribution by “The New York Times” Jesse McKinley, “Albany Times Union” up there, pushing the story forward, “New York Post” and “Washington Post”, all of these forces gathering. Sort of undoes the right-wing conspiracy theory about the mainstream media which is that we don’t cover Democratic politicians.
But I would remiss if I didn’t mention CNN own huge media story here with Chris Cuomo, the anchor at the 9:00 hour who covered Andrew Cuomo and have love-a-thon with them and they suspended for that interviews. Yet, all of a sudden, they’ve enforced it again now that Andrew Cuomo is in a midst of a historic scandal in the Albany statehouse. So I think that is a major black eye for CNN.
I will say that you and other people have covered the Cuomo story very aggressively. So I do want to be fair about this. But it is a major black eye for this network.
Stelter didn’t respond to this issue at all. After first asking David Zurawik to assess the media coverage of Governor Cuomo, Stelter offered this non-sequitur as an evasion about the Cuomo Brothers Love-a-Thons:
STELTER: And to Wemple’s point about CNN, the job always is to cover the story as if it was anybody else or any other story, just cover it the same way no matter what. Let’s turn to the current occupant of the White House…
In other words, let’s change the subject. As for covering the story the same way no matter what, which other story did they cover by having the brother of a politician do the interviews? “Always” seems to be an interesting choice of words — and on a show dedicated to media criticism (and usually focused on others), Stelter seems weirdly disinclined to remove the beam from his network’s eye here.
As for Wemple’s other point about “the right wing conspiracy theory” of media bias, the Love-a-Thons are at least Exhibit A, are they not? Even Fox wouldn’t have been shameless enough to hire Donald Jr or Ivanka to do an interview of his father, let alone a series of them in prime time. Zurawik tells Stelter, “God bless the press for pressing him as hard as it is pressing him now ” on the scandals, but the nursing-home deaths issue first emerged in May of last year. Cuomo went on a national book and media tour to promote his auto-hagiography on his superior leadership for most of the last quarter of 2020 while this was a well-known if not well-reported issue. Yet the media never bothered to ask him about it on his book tour, nor about his “long-earned … reputation” for bullying friends and foes alike. Everyone in the media apparently knew about Cuomo’s bullying and intimidation, but didn’t think to bring it up until Cuomo no longer served their purpose as a moral counterweight to Trump.
CNN is hardly alone in having to explain Cuomo love-a-thons after 2020.
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