President Trump took great glee in tweeting out a report from a local San Diego TV station that accused CNN of refusing to interview one of their reporters after the cable news network discovered that the station’s coverage of the efficacy of the local border wall was uniformly positive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2019
Any opportunity to attack the rival network to his beloved Fox News and portray them as a biased purveyor of “fake news” is not one that President Trump will fail to seize.
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Unfortunately for the president, it now turns out that the story Trump forwarded was the actual fake news in this case, as the Associated Press reports.
KUSI-TV news director Steve Cohen originally claimed that CNN had called him and expressed interest in interviewing one of the station’s reporters about how the presence of a border wall has affected immigration issues in the area but changed their minds after Cohen told them that their correspondent’s reporting had shown the border barrier to be effective locally and that his comments might not fit into what he saw as CNN’s narrative.
When Cohen did not get a follow-up call to book an interview with the station’s on-air talent from CNN producers, the news director jumped to the conclusion that the reason was that the cable news network didn’t want to air any positive reports about Trump and his border security demands. He decided that his assumptions about CNN’s motivations for not interviewing their correspondent were newsworthy in and of itself and promptly ran stories about the supposedly biased rejection both on its website and on its nightly local news broadcast.
According to the AP:
“We believe CNN declined a report from KUSI because we informed them that most border patrol agents we have spoken to told us the barrier does in fact work,” the station said on its web site, and followed up with a report on its air.
“They didn’t like what they heard from us,” anchor Anna Laurel said.
Today, however, the KUSI-TV news director was forced to admit that he never actually spoke to CNN about why their initial inquiry never resulted in an interview with their reporter. Faced with CNN’s response to his assumed motivations — that it had also contacted reporters at other local stations about a potential segment but dropped the idea when their plans changed as they frequently do in the fast-paced breaking news environment — Cohen sheepishly acknowledged that he had no real idea as to why CNN didn’t follow through with their initial inquiry.
“It’s certainly plausible that they didn’t want it for the viewpoint, or they just didn’t want it,” he said. “Both are plausible conclusions. I made one rather than the other.”
According to CNN:
“This happens many times every single day,” the network said in a statement. “This is a non-story.”
In the end, it was another case of the president tweeting out exactly the kind of “fake news” that he accuses CNN of purveying. It’s worth noting that KUSI-TV is an independent channel not affiliated with any broadcast network and is owned by McKinnon Broadcasting and that its general manager is known as a “longtime supporter of conservative causes and candidates in the San Diego area.”
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Original reporting by David Bauder at The Associated Press.