The Chicago Tribune’s editorial board weighed in on the changes at CNN with “CNN is hewing toward the center? That’s good for our democracy.”
The board acknowledged the dangers of both sideism, but added, “Granted, not every issue has two sides, especially when it comes to the antics of former President Donald Trump, but most of them do.”
The board went on to write that the country needs a news source that all Americans can trust.
Here’s the problem: All Americans aren’t reasonable enough or willing to accept what’s true. And it isn’t just a small minority of those who aren’t willing to accept things such as the 2020 presidential election, the authenticity of our elections and other bedrocks of our democracy. For the editorial board to wrap up the issue by briefly mentioning the “antics of former President Donald Trump” seems overly dismissive and not nearly as comprehensive of what’s truly at stake here.
As NPR TV critic Eric Deggans said on the final episode of the recently canceled “Reliable Sources,” “I hope that what we’re not going to see CNN do is institute some sort of false equivalence where the extremism of one party is balanced with the regular dysfunction of another party. We need to be free to call out when someone breaks the law, when someone breaks norms, when someone introduces prejudices and stereotypes to the public debate.”
The Tribune’s editorial closed with, “Perhaps it’s Pollyannaish to hope that CNN can retrofit itself in a country where each political side believes the other is living in a kind of dangerous alternate reality. But many of (new CNN CEO Chris) Licht’s innovations, including the new national morning show featuring (Don) Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, are refreshing changes that might just help with this country’s ever-expanding habit of spinning the facts before digesting them.”
The board also wrote that there are journalists at CNN who are “worried that the network was abandoning its original mission statement.”
The editorial got this right: It is Pollyannaish to think that way. I’ll add another word to at least consider: dangerous. Pushing for fairness and completeness in journalism as well as fewer “hot takes” is never a bad idea. But that’s not the same as making sure you present both sides. Sometimes, the other side shouldn’t be given a voice, particularly if that side’s argument is based on lies or pushes harmful agendas.
This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.