CNN’s Exquisitely Awkward Spot


You’ve probably seen that last night an RNC convention attendee was ejected from the hall for pelting a black CNN camerawoman with nuts and saying the words “this is how we feed animals.”

Follow up reports this morning say actually two people were ejected.

Now, one of the more interesting things about this story is that it broke on TPM. Actually, not quite. We first saw a tweet from David Shuster. Then we got confirmation of what happened from CNN and were the first to run the story. (This morning the RNCC essentially confirmed something rotten had happened.) But you may have noticed that one of the biggest news organizations in the world — CNN — has been remarkably tight-lipped about this.So it’s worth noting why that probably is. There’s a normal and correct tendency for a news outfit not to want to make itself into the story. But this goes way beyond that and puts CNN in an exquisitely awkward position. CNN has been bending over backwards of late trying to position itself as the last holy beacon of objectivity and fairness in cable news, as Fox and MSNBC play to more clearly partisan audiences. Yet they’re under almost constant assault from conservatives for alleged (and basically mythical) liberal bias.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Convention is the GOP’s quadrennial ‘we love us a lotta non-white people’ fest. And given what I said above the last possible thing CNN wants is to rain on that parade or become the focus of a huge messaging nightmare if attendees were harassing an African-American member of their team. Certainly, the Convention organizers want to avoid discussion as much as possible too.

As a side note, one can only imagine how Fox News would be going to town over this had something somehow analogous happened to one of their staffers at a Democratic convention.

Journalists don’t tend to like non-transparency from other news organizations. And CNN’s relative silence (they did finally put out a basic report this morning) will, I suspect, generate a backlash from viewers outraged by the incident.

Eventually both sides will have to say a lot more. A political convention, by definition, is a news vacuum. And nature abhors a vacuum.

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