What about President Donald Trump’s complaint about “fake news”? Let’s look at some examples of “Great Moments in ‘Journalism'” over the last few years.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., in an appearance on ABC’s Sunday morning political show hosted by George Stephanopoulos, called former Democratic Alabama Gov. George Wallace a “Republican.” Ellison said, “At the same time, (in Trump) we do have the worst Republican nominee since George Wallace.” Stephanopoulos either ignored or was ignorant of the fact that Wallace – who proudly proclaimed, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” – was a long-standing Democrat who served four terms as governor and twice sought the Democratic nomination for president. Tellingly, Stephanopoulos did not correct Ellison. Fortunately, another guest, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., did correct the history-challenged Ellison.
Candy Crowley of CNN, one of the 2012 presidential debate moderators, “corrected” Mitt Romney when the Republican candidate accused President Barack Obama of failing to call the assault on Benghazi a “terror attack.” Obama claimed he immediately called the assault on Benghazi an “act of terror”:
Romney: “You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?”
Obama: “Please proceed, governor.”
Romney: “I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”
Obama: “Get the transcript.”
Crowley: “It – it – it – he did in fact, sir. So let me – let me call it an act of terror.”
Obama: “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?”
Crowley: “He – he did call it an act of terror.”
In truth, the day after the attack, Obama said: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” He only referred specifically to the deaths of four Americans in Libya as “an attack” or “this attack.”
Fourteen days after the attack, Obama was asked: “I heard Hillary Clinton say it was an act of terrorism. Is it? What do you say?” The President responded: “We’re still doing an investigation. There’s no doubt that (with) the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. We don’t have all the information yet, so we’re still gathering it. But what’s clear is that around the world, there’s still a lot of threats out there.” Clearly, Crowley was wrong when she “corrected” Romney and defended Obama. This was a turning point in the election.
MSNBC’s Luke Russert, covering the 2008 presidential election, said students at the University of Virginia will vote Obama because: “You have to remember, the smartest kids in the state go there, so it’s leaning a little bit towards Obama.” Get it? Smart people vote Democrat. Dumb people vote Republican. Russert later apologized.
CNN’s Carol Costello laughed hysterically as a frantic Bristol Palin, daughter of Sarah Palin, told cops she was assaulted at a party. Listen to how a gleeful Costello introduced the audiotape of Bristol describing the attack to the police: “This is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across – well, come across in a long time, anyway. A massive brawl in Anchorage, Alaska, reportedly involving Sarah Palin’s kids and her husband. It was sparked after someone pushed one of her daughters at a party. That’s what Bristol Palin told police in an interview after the incident. … So sit back and enjoy.” A near-hysterical Palin says: “A guy comes out of nowhere and pushes me on the ground, takes me by my feet, in my dress – in my thong, dress, in front of everybody – ‘Come on, you (expletive), come on, you (expletive), get the (expletive) out of here.'”
At the conclusion of the segment, a smirking Costello said, “You can thank me later.”
MSNBC’s Erin Burnett, now with CNN, called then-President George W. Bush a “monkey.” With videotape rolling of President Bush flanked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to his left and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to his right, the reporter gushed, “Who could not have a man-crush on that man? I’m not talking about the monkey, either. I’m talking about the other one.” The host asked, “Who’s the monkey?” Burnett replied, “The monkey in the middle” – meaning President Bush. She, too, later apologized.
The late Tim Russert, in a 2007 interview with New York Times war correspondent John Burns, repeated an often-cited anti-Iraq War talking point – that Americans expected to be greeted as “liberators” in Iraq, but weren’t. Burns, who was in Iraq at the time of the invasion, corrected him: “The American troops were greeted as liberators. We saw it.”
Trump is clearly right to fulminate against what he calls the “fake news media.” The real question is, what took Republicans so long to fight back?