Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Cowardice of CNN

Yesterday brought the news that CNN cancelled Reza Aslan's documentary series, Believer, after Aslan tweeted that Donald Trump was "a piece of shit".  This makes the second time in as many weeks that CNN cancelled a program or fired a host because of what it deemed as unacceptable behavior off of CNN.  The first case was the firing of Kathy Griffin after she held up a severed, bloody head of Trump in a political comedy routine.

In Aslan's case, he was replying to a series of Trump tweets which attacked the Muslim Mayor of London after typically misreading or misunderstanding what the Mayor said after a brutal terrorist attack on London.  Trump continued with a reiteration for the need of his Muslim ban.

Trump could and should have been called a lot worse than "a piece of shit" for this and many of the other things he has done or attempted to do as President.  I could understand if CNN had a policy prohibiting that use of language on its air - which use, by the way, is in no sense illegal - but CNN has every ethical right to regulate what it broadcasts.

But cancelling a series because its creator tweeted something under his own name - something CNN didn't find to its liking?  A creator who was not a journalist or a reporter, but a documentary TV maker? Reporters are supposed to be objective.  Makers of documentaries are supposed to have a point of view, the sharper the better.

The cancelation of Aslan's series, after it had been renewed,  represents a dangerous precedent, especially when preceded by the firing of Kathy Griffin for the severed head.  We live in a country in which vigorous criticism is more necessary than ever, with a President who lies and insults and misrepresents almost every time he opens his mouth.  Rather than punishing and de facto censoring people in its operation who speak up for the truth, CNN should be standing behind them, and expressing its pride in giving a forum for such brave and truthful communicators.

As it is, CNN and its cowardice has become part of the problem, rather than its solution or remedy.

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