Inside the Trump-CNN Phony War

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.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Edblog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriter:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: