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The Brief: The Demise of CNN Amid Scandal and Liberal Idolatry

CNN unwittingly crafted its own obituary —slow death by self-inflicted wounds.  Resurrection is unlikely.  It’d take a miracle.

CNN unwittingly crafted its own obituary —slow death by self-inflicted wounds.  Resurrection is unlikely.  It’d take a miracle.

For decades, the network billed itself as the “most trusted name in news.”  But amid a tsunami of scandals and a debilitating loss of roughly 90 percent of its audience, it has transformed itself into the most distrusted name in news.  It is a moniker well deserved.

The humiliating exit of its president, Jeff Zucker, leaves CNN rudderless just as AT&T dumps ownership off to Discovery, Inc.  That’s like buying the Titanic.  The new owner might consider selling CNN for scrap, assuming any of it can be reclaimed from the graveyard of media shipwrecks.

The rest of WarnerMedia has value, including HBO, Warner Brothers, TNT and TBS.  But CNN is now the runt of the litter.  And its future looks bleak.  The purchase is not yet final.  So, maybe the new buyer should reverse the transaction by making the seller pay…to just to get rid of it.

In the short course of one year, CNN has lost 80 percent of its total viewers, 89 percent of its primetime audience, and 91 percent of its coveted demographic, ages 18 to 49.  These wretched ratings should come as no surprise.  CNN has elevated self-immolation to an art form.  Yet, its arrogance continues unabated.

Zucker was captain of the doomed ship.  He micromanaged everything.  In his eight years at the helm, he managed to turn a credible network into a laughingstock.  All the while he maintained an affair with a female employee that he kept promoting over others.  Together, the romantic duo were secretly counseling New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on how to take down President Trump.

It all blew up in Zucker’s face when, amid growing pressure, he belatedly canned primetime host Chris Cuomo for lying about his own role defending his brother during a cascade of sexual harassment and abuse accusations that eventually led to his resignation in disgrace.  Only then did Chris threatened to blow the whistle on Zucker’s ongoing tryst and his covert counseling of the “Luv Guv.”  Seized with fear, AT&T sacked the CNN president.  But details of the sordid affair spilled out anyway.

It’s not just Zucker and Cuomo who’ve sullied the good name and reputation of CNN.  The network’s other primetime star, Don Lemon, has been embroiled in a scandal of his own…sued by a Hamptons bartender for sexual assault.  Then there’s legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, who was caught on camera pleasuring himself during a Zoom call.

Not to be forgotten are two of CNN’s  producers.  One was arrested on charges of enticing minor girls for sex and the other is under criminal investigation involving “potential juvenile victims.”

Throughout all of this, CNN’s slow-witted media critic, Brian Stelter, served as the network’s chief excuse-maker and unabashed apologist.  It’s no wonder his weekend show has an audience that can best be described as “tens of people.”  The man is clueless and banal.  He’s the most hapless of clowns in the CNN circus.

Stelter, you’ll recall, is the guy who promoted on air the presidential aspirations of Michael Avenatti.  That was before the crooked lawyer ended up in prison for extortion.  Just days ago, he was convicted yet again for stealing nearly $300,000 from his client, the porn star Stormy Daniels.  Anyone with a brain knew that Avenatti was a sleaze ball.  So naturally, Stelter loved him.

But the most revealing scandal involving CNN occurred a few months ago when the guerrilla news outlet Project Veritas published secretly recorded videos of the network’s technical director Charles Chester.  On camera, he could be heard declaring that there’s “no such thing as unbiased news” at CNN.  He even bragged that the network meddled in the 2020 presidential contest by inventing phony stories about Trump and actively aiding Biden’s election.

Chester also boasted that CNN milked the pandemic to gin up its ratings.  “Which is why we constantly have the death toll on the side (of the screen),” he noted.  This helps explain why the network openly championed all of the business shutdowns and personal lockdowns imposed by Democrat mayors and governors during the pandemic.  It was the wrong thing to do and devoid of scientific justification, and I said so in a series of columns that I wrote for this website in March and April of 2020.

Now, nearly two years hence, an extensive study by Johns Hopkins University has determined that the COVID lockdowns were completely ineffective.  The economic and personal hardships of these draconian measures far outweighed the minuscule benefit of reducing deaths by 0.2 percent.  That’s right, less than 1 percent.  This is precisely what I argued at the outset.  It was foolish, destructive and irrational.  Or, as the Hopkins study put it, “lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.”

But there was CNN, in concert with others in the mainstream media, publicly shaming anyone who dared to disagree with the dictatorial commands of liberal politicians in blue states and fueled by the idiocy of Dr. Anthony Fauci.  Instead of allowing for candid debates about the merits of these harsh orders, dissenters were banned and censored for presenting any opposing viewpoints.

The media didn’t seem to care that the shutdowns/lockdowns left millions unemployed, destroyed countless businesses, caused serious educational loss in children, increased social alienation and domestic violence, and precipitated a surge in depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicides and overdoses.  Those entirely foreseeable consequences were immaterial to the liberal press.

It is unsurprising that networks like CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS have ignored the Johns Hopkins study.  Likewise, many in the print media such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today, Axios, and Politico imposed a blackout on the Hopkins study.  None of them bothered to report that the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders actually increased COVID deaths because home confinement tended to infect family members with a higher viral load.

Why the collective silence on all of this?  To admit the truth now would require self-reflection and the inevitable concession that news organizations were neither objective nor thoughtful.  They banished diversity of thought.  Instead, they fueled a narrative driven by their own leftist agenda.  It came with a stern warning: adhere to the strict COVID orthodoxy or else.

Journalists will never admit they were wrong or unfair about shutdowns, lockdowns, and mask mandates.  They’ll simply avoid talking about it and scuttle any evidence to the contrary.

Nor will the media ever acknowledge the shortcomings of the vaccines themselves.  Their efficacy has been shown to wane rapidly over time.  They don’t work exactly as promised.  We were told that getting the shot would prevent you from contracting the virus.  It didn’t.  We were told that being vaccinated meant you could not transmit the virus.  It doesn’t.  The Delta and Omicron variants proved that.

We were also told that people still had to comply with vaccine mandates even though they had survived the disease.  Natural immunity, we were scolded, was not good enough.  Recently, the CDC reversed itself and finally recognized that “natural immunity is more protective against infection than vaccination.”  Yet, the government still demands compliance, even for those with natural immunity.  That means that millions of vaccines are being wasted on those who don’t need them.

Where is the liberal media in all of this?  Crickets.  It’s as if it never happened.  They continue to denounce people like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who refused to impose lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine mandates.  It didn’t matter to the press that his state recorded lower deaths per capita than other states where mandates rule everyones’ lives.

The media has also excoriated popular podcaster Joe Rogan for his audacity in questioning the safety and efficacy of the COVID vaccines.  He interviewed infectious disease experts who voiced some doubt.  Apparently, Joe didn’t know or didn’t care that doubt is never tolerated.  So, the media went after him with a vengeance.  They’re still at it.

Rogan is a double threat because he also discussed the virtues of therapies and drug treatments like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.  The media had declared that these medical applications were nothing more than folk remedies like eye of newt and toe of frog.  Forget that some doctors had reported success with COVID patients.  Any talk of treatments beyond the government sanctioned vaccines were blasphemous.

When aging rocker Neil Young decided to stick his bulbous nose into the Rogan controversy, I knew that the notoriously snotty musician was grandstanding.  He penned an ultimatum to Spotify demanding that the platform remove Rogan or remove him.  “You can have Rogan or Young, not both,” he threatened.  Spotify correctly chose to ditch Young.

Financial considerations aside, the platform was not about to cave to the extortionist threats.  Good for them.  They’re not a content editor or publisher in the conventional sense.  And besides, when you join Neil Young’s “cancel culture” where do you draw the line?  Who’s next?  Does Young get to pick and choose what podcast or even whose music you’re entitled to listen to?

Neil Young is a hypocrite.  This is the guy who joined the “Freedom of Speech Tour” in 2006.  Somehow he’s forgotten what speaking freely means.  As an outspoken activist in the Vietnam era, he wrote the anti-war anthem “Ohio,” which catapulted him to the top of the protest singers of his day.  After that, he spoke freely in his songs about everything from racism in America to the deteriorating environment.  And good for him.

But in typical lefty fashion, Young’s idea of free speech extends only to the speech with which he agrees.  All other speech must be censored or cancelled.  That is what’s behind his targeting of Rogan.  But Young doesn’t have the sense to recognize it or the courage to admit it.

He’s like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz.  He thinks he can roar and Spotify will tremble.  It didn’t work.