While corporate media goads progressive in-fighting for ratings, journalism suffers

Dylan Grosser, Columnist

On Monday, Jan. 13, CNN choose to publish a story concerning Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and a private December 2018 meeting between the two of them. The story alleged that in this meeting, Sanders told Warren he believed a woman could not win the presidency.

Sanders has completely denied CNN and Warren’s version of events, and not only that, bit he in fact highlighted several key points which cast doubt on the reporting ethics of this story and underline an ongoing struggle for fairness in the press on his platform.

On women’s rights and advocacy, Sanders’ voting records are squeaky clean, but not only that, quickly after the CNN story broke, several videos circulated online of Sanders which showed him positively affirming women running for office, one of which from 1988 showing his viewpoint that he did indeed believe a woman could become president. And of course, it’s known that in 2015, Sanders encouraged Warren to run against Clinton, and her refusal is what led him to enter the 2016 race.

But what is most infuriating in this CNN story debacle is that despite this mountain of evidence showing Sanders being a staunch supporter of women’s rights throughout history, especially for women running for office, the CNN story utilizes only anonymous sources with unknown credibility and intent.

Indeed, the CNN story is vague in the most irresponsible way in describing how these four unnamed people could even be considered having authority over this meeting at all, and thus this story. It says two of them are people who Warren spoke to directly after the meeting, and the other two are simply those “familiar with the meeting.”

In journalism, it is common for stories not to run because of a lack of concrete facts and people’s willing to not be on the record. It simply looks bad for a paper to run vague, unprovable accusations without any sources willing to be named — and in severe cases, a baseless story could even have legal implications for a paper as well. Therefore a story such as this would in any other newsroom not have been published.

But CNN ran this story anyway. Why? Look no further than the date the article was published — a day before the Democratic debate ahead of the high-stakes Iowa primary, hosted by none other than CNN itself. Of course people are going to tune in to hear Sanders defend himself and potentially have a spat with his progressive friend/rival — and to no one’s surprise, one emerged. 

Perhaps what CNN underestimated was the outcry and criticism for so blatantly manufacturing the political cycle for their own ratings. In fact, some journalists have gone onto write this loss of integrity is why it was the news network itself who was the biggest loser of this debate. And I have to agree.

As we go deeper into this election, with likely more media circuses and accusations of reporting bias against certain candidates, it’s important that everyone knows just one fact about journalism: objectivity is a myth. Human beings are incapable of being unbiased, and so the information you take in likely comes from someone with an agenda.

I am not encouraging anyone to blanketly discount facts, but rather I am encouraging people to not accept all information at face value and for them to think critically for themselves. Just because something is published by a well-known news outlet does not mean it is true simply for that reason. Trust in information that has merit and is provable, not information that is faulty and sensationalized.