Former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett has been building a little media empire with his fellow Obama guys Jon Favreau, and Tommy Vietor, creating the quintessential political podcasts, "Keeping it 1600," "Pod Saves America," "Pod Saves the World," "With Friends Like These" and debuting this week, "Lovett or Leave It". If you're a political junkie like me, they're mandatory listening.
Lovett appeared on Reliable Sources this weekend, ostensibly to promote his new podcast, but ended up chiding CNN for their huge, non-informative panels, especially those with intellectually dishonest Trump proxies included.
Look, here's an example. You go after Hannity on this show, right? You say he's intellectually dishonest, he doesn't care about the truth, he doesn't care about what his audience cares about, right? Then you turn on CNN, and Hannity has got a little beachhead on half the shows on this network. You turn it on, and there's a big, giant panel.
Funnily enough, it's host Brian Stelter who specifically name checks Trump proxies Kayleigh McEnany and Jeffrey Lord, but we can also include Boris Epshteyn (who is reportedly going to do something else in the White House now, his Russian roots completely coincidental), perpetual #AlternativeFacts spinner Kellyanne Conway, Omarosa Manigault, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, etc. And make no mistake, it's not that Trump doesn't deserve proxies on these shows--all presidents have them. But there's such a significant track record of false statements and monopolizing conversations so that Americans actually are less informed afterwards. You can't blame spin doctors for spinning, but you can blame producers who give them a place at the table to do it. As Lovett retorts to Stelter,
So often on CNN, there's a world-class journalist interviewing campaign rejects and ideologues and silly, craven people who do not care about informing people, that aren't there to kind of help people understand what is going on in the news. And the thing is, there are millions of people who say every day, we don't like this, right? You look at every single poll, every single poll.
Stelter, being the good CNN employee, argues that they still get ratings. Strictly speaking, that is another alternative fact. The reality is, cable news viewership is dropping, especially among young people, setting up the doubtfulness of the sustainability of these outlets in the future as their senior age average viewership dies out. But more importantly, the public trusts the news media less and less and it is directly because of these "balanced" panels in lieu of information.
So the question has to be asked: is CNN willing to trade long-term sustainability as their audience leaves by attrition and disgust just for the sake of "balance" and the disrespect of blatant lies to their audience?