When Paste first hired me as a Media (and Business) Editor, I pitched the media section as a way of looking at how Trump was covered, and while I entered the gig with plenty of grievances, I assumed that a lot of our output would be neutral or even positive coverage. After all, I had begun to cogitate upon my wrongness that I very publicly demonstrated in 2016 and how I got there, so I assumed that my more senior cohorts in the media would follow suit, and I was eager to watch it unfold.
The 2016 election was a massive failure on the part of every institution that we hold dear, and it forced a reckoning which led to a broad sea change within the populace, and very little change within the elite circles who oversaw that failure—exemplified by the fact that 51% of Republican voters now want socialized health care, while still only 33% of Democratic Senators have expressed support for it.
I was wrong that I was simply following the lead of major media (defined as the 90% of media owned by six conglomerates) in addressing my shortcomings in the wake of the 2016 election. Elite media largely did not learn the lessons most of us have from 2016. Outlets like the New York Times became de facto Kremlin propaganda outlets by breathlessly covering the painfully mundane Podesta e-mails that were dropped every single day in the lead up to the election, starting just after the explosive Access Hollywood tape leaked to The Washington Post. Yet two years later, the New York Times and pretty much all of major media spent the lead-up to the election spreading debunked GOP disinformation about a “caravan” that conveniently disappeared from the news the moment that the polls closed. After entering this career with hope that I could learn from major media, much of my introduction to full-time journalism was spent critiquing basic errors by major outlets again and again and again.
The mainstream media is one of the least respected institutions in this country (Americans express about as much confidence in them as we do in HMOs). Republicans constantly bleat all the “fake news” nonsense, but a majority of Democrats also believe that news sources “report news they know to be fake, false or purposely misleading.” The only question as to whether I fall into that 53% of Democrats is if Chris Cuomo knows that tweets like the one he unleashed today are fake, false or purposely misleading. I honestly don’t know.
Cuomo deleted that tweet and gave the famous dudebro non-apology that he regretted how people interpreted it.
Deleted my original tweet because it was taken literally the opposite way that I intended it. Sen Harris has no duty to justify any such accusation, let alone a birtherism attack. You accuse, you prove. That was my point. Apologize for confusion.— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) January 22, 2019
Before deleting his dumb tweet, Cuomo defended his unnecessary elevation of this completely untrue nonsense.
That bullshit. It is on the ACCUSER to prove what they say about Harris. Not on her. That's my point. That's the only point here. https://t.co/rIQb3t6afB— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) January 22, 2019
“It’s on the accuser to practice journalism” said the CNN anchor with a prime time TV show.
The background to this mess is that Kamala Harris announced that she’s running for president yesterday, and today, famous dumb internet nobody Jacob Wohl said that Kamala Harris is not eligible to be president because her parents were born in Jamaica and India. This is patently and obviously stupid because the 14th Amendment exists and Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California—but that didn’t stop the both-sides brainwashing in Cuomo’s brain from taking over his central nervous system to elevate the EXACT SAME BIRTHER BS WE JUST WENT THROUGH WITH BARACK OBAMA.
This is what widespread white supremacy looks like. We have this idea that it’s just white guys with hoods burning crosses in the woods, but this is how that message gets normalized. Nonsense like Obama being born in Kenya gets elevated by white supremacists like candidate Trump and those adjacent to them, and white TV anchors like Cuomo—desperate for the eyeballs of white America and more trained to cosplay a journalist than to actually be one—construct a false equivalency around a provable lie because their capitalist profit motive elevates selling trust above truth. A few years later, Donald Trump becomes president, and then the cycle gets reborn with Kamala Harris.
This is why even liberals think that journalists knowingly report fake news. In fact, that’s a charitable view of the blatant stupidity inherent in this whole farce. It means that people are actually giving the mainstream media credit for knowing how stupid they can sound in instances like this one, and they’re actually just depressingly cynical, not stupid.
The 14th Amendment says that Kamala Harris can be president—period—end of nonstory that’s only a story because some idiot legacy kid has his own TV show on CNN, and he elevated nonsense from an even bigger idiot legacy kid. The fact that Chris Cuomo believes that it is the job of the accuser to acknowledge their falsehood—instead of it being the journalist’s job to prove its falsity—tells you all you need to know about how he views journalism. Until the mainstream media acknowledges that the small, both-sides “we’re just reporting what they say” worldview that they operate within is simply not emblematic of reality—nor the essence of journalism—these kinds of public self-pantsings from the Chris Cuomos of the world will continue into infinity, and the crisis of confidence in the self-described “Fourth Estate” of the American government will continue to painfully endure.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.