Inside the Trump-CNN Phony War

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Donald Trump’s ‘war’ with CNN has been the most consistent media-bashing theme from him for the last 18 months. But it is as phony as they come. CNN has quite simply been more compliant with Trump than any other news organization. This isn’t a knock at the journalists. Some of them recently have been quite good. And I wouldn’t say, in general, that they’ve been worse than their cable news colleagues. But from the business and programming side they’ve been the most accommodating. Think about it. What other network has a permanent list of pro-Trump pundits on payroll?

The key is about bullying. Bullies never go after the people they hate or fear most. They go after the people who cower most. Same work ref working. People never argue the worst refs. They argue the ones who are easiest to play.

CNN pitches itself as the non-ideological cable news network. Not Fox, also not MSNBC, though the latter has somewhat shed its liberal business strategy. CNN is the cable net that needs buy in from all news stakeholders and news makers to sustain its raison d’etre. Or at least they perceive they do. That’s the place in the news ecosystem they’ve carved out.

CNN will handle this, I guess, however they want. But just keep in mind. This isn’t about a feud or any actual hostility. It’s purely tactical. Just a shakedown.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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