CNN says it’s under no obligation to run ads featuring false smears.
This week, CNN has been running ads produced by Trump’s reelection organization — the 45Committee — touting the president’s alleged accomplishments during his first 100 days in office.
But on Tuesday, the 45Committee released a statement accusing the network of suppressing its “free speech” by refusing to run one that smears CNN and other mainstream cable networks as “FAKE NEWS.”
Toward the end of the 30-second spot in question, a narrator says, “You wouldn’t know it from watching the news — America is winning, and President Trump is making America great again.” While he says that, a “FAKE NEWS” graphic appears superimposed over the faces of cable news anchors, including CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
CNN officials claim they refused to run the ad because the “FAKE NEWS” smear is baseless. A statement posted to Twitter by CNN Communications says, “CNN requested that the advertiser remove the false graphic that says the mainstream media is ‘fake news.’ The mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false. Per our policy, it will be accepted only if that graphic is deleted. Those are the facts.”
CNN has in fact been running other 45Committee ads touting Trump’s first 100 days that don’t include the “FAKE NEWS” smear, so it’s not as though the network is suppressing pro-Trump spots from his campaign.
But in a statement posted to Trump’s official campaign website, Michael Glassner, Executive Director of the 45Commitee, says he thinks it’s “absolutely shameful to see the media blocking the positive message that President Trump is trying to share with the country.”
“It’s clear that CNN is trying to silence our voice and censor our free speech because it doesn’t fit their narrative,” Glassner adds.
It’s ironic that the Trump campaign would cry “censorship” in response to CNN’s decision, as the president and his staff have repeatedly expressed a desire to weaken the 1st Amendment by making it easier to sue media outlets which cover him critically. On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the Trump administration has “looked at” making changes to libel law to make it easier to sue journalists who publish stories Trump doesn’t like.
While CNN has provided tough coverage of Trump, the network also employs a team of Trump loyalists who regularly appear on the network’s programs and advocate on behalf of the president’s policies, including Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany.
Nonetheless, Trump recently smeared CNN as “very fake news.” In one revealing exchange during a news conference Trump held a little more than a week before his inauguration, Trump attacked CNN’s Jim Acosta for his network’s reporting about his campaign’s shady connection with Russia and refused to take a question from him. But a short time later, Trump took a question from Breitbart News — a supportive outlet that recently featured a “Black Crime” vertical, published a piece last year equating feminism with cancer, and came under fire earlier this year for running a fake news story about a Muslim mob setting fire to a church in Germany.
The Trump campaign’s latest kerfuffle with CNN isn’t the first time the ad in question has generated controversy. A previous version of the spot was pulled off the internet by the campaign after the Daily Beast reported that it “may have skirted federal laws that govern politicking by active-duty U.S. servicemembers.”
That version featured a clip of Trump shaking hands with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster just after he accepted the job during a visit to Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club.
“McMaster was wearing his Army uniform in the clip, and that may have violated the spirit if not the letter of Defense Department rules barring active-duty members of the military from participating in political advocacy in uniform,” the Daily Beast reported. “By Monday afternoon, the Trump campaign had removed the ad and replaced it with a new version that did not include the McMaster clip. A campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the video.”
Trump campaign accuses CNN of censorship for refusing to run ad calling it ‘FAKE NEWS’ was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.