THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL ENDORSEMENT
CNN has a history of using #FakeNews to conduct blame-shifting witch hunts.
On January 10th, then President Elect Donald Trump accurately characterized reports of “potentially damaging information” that Russia possessed about him as “FAKE NEWS” and that story was “A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT.”
As the old saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Within 24 hours, Trump was right again when he accurately called CNN a #FakeNews organization based on its indefensible story that sensationalized the significance of the unverified dossier that was attached to a briefing given to then President Obama and some members of Congress.
CNN and many other news organizations possessed the dossier for a number of months and didn’t publish anything about it because it was unverifiable and was borne from opposition research.
However, once Buzz Feed chose to publish the information, CNN quickly piled on -- reporting that the dossier contained “allegations…of compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.” Even though CNN understood the illegitimacy of the dossier, it went to considerable lengths to lend credence to the veracity of the source of the unverifiable information.
CNN’s excuse for referencing the dossier was that its report didn’t reference the specific details of the dossier, that the public had a right to know about it, and that it was attached to a briefing given by the Intelligence Community.
Later that day, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, stated the report (dossier) was not verified by the Intelligence Community, that he was dismayed about the leak of information, and that national policy makers have a right to be informed of such information.
Left unsaid by Clapper, but surely understood, was that the public did not have a right to know about the contents of the classified briefing.
Similarly, the public also does not have a right to know about ongoing grand jury and/or criminal investigation information. In many cases, this evidence is also biased, incomplete, not vetted, and most of all, from potentially dishonest/unreliable sources.
CNN and others routinely use this inherently biased grand jury and criminal investigation to pen sensational #FakeNews stories with the intent to damage or demonize individuals or otherwise conduct witch hunts.
In this instance (and probably for the next four years), Trump = Witch.
Blame shifting comes part and parcel with witch hunting.
This whole #FakeNews episode was really about shifting the blame for the loss of the 2016 Presidential election away from its root cause – the dishonesty of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) -- and onto those who exposed their dishonesty. In this blame shifting false narrative, more witches are needed.
FBI Director James Comey = Witch
Russian hackers = Witch
The bottom line is that if the DNC had been on the level and that if Clinton (and her staff) had been forthright in turning over her emails, Comey and the alleged Russian hackers wouldn’t have been a factor.
Consider this: If the DNC ran an honest primary, maybe Bernie Sanders – not Donald Trump -- would be President right now.
But the issue at hand isn’t politics.
The issue is that the media, and particularly CCN (and NBC), have abandoned any pretense of fairness and journalism ethics in an attempt to sensationalize stories, punish individuals and communities, and push various agendas.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Fabricating the term “White Hispanic” – February 2012
In order to sensationalize a story about a shooting, CNN interjected race into the Trayvon Martin case inventing the term, “White Hispanic” to describe shooter George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman = WITCH.
CNN altered the race of Zimmerman because his last name appeared to be European (e.g., German) and to provide racial overtones to the story.
Photographs clearly revealed him to be a mixed race Hispanic.
As a result of CNN’s #FakeNews story about a racially motivated murder, there were protest marches across the country, a civil rights referral to the Department of Justice, and the Sanford police chief lost his job.
In response to his removal, police chief Bill Lee said:
"I continue to stand by the work performed by the Sanford Police Department in this tragic shooting, which has been plagued by misrepresentations and false statements for interests other than justice."
“White Hispanic” is NOT one the many terms used to describe mixed race Hispanics. Based on what was known of Zimmerman’s heritage, he would have been classified as a Mestizo.
A jury would later rule that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense and the Department of Justice later ruled it was not a civil rights issue or hate crime.
This disgraceful reporting that resulted in racial division, wasted government resources and the loss of a man’s job was almost completely on them.
Almost. Enter #FakeNews cohort, NBC.
NBC’s Today Show helped the racial angle of the story along by altering the 9-1-1 tape. They claimed it was a mistake.
I suspect they knew exactly what they were doing and did it for the same reasons that CNN invented the term White Hispanic. Sensational stories garner people’s attention and ratings go up.
CNN was called out by a few media members, including one of its own reporters, Ruben Navarrette, for inventing the term “white Hispanic.” Interestingly, Navarrette opined that the networks immediately jumped to the conclusion that Zimmerman was white based on his last name and when they found out he was mixed race, they invented the term in an attempt to avoid embarrassment.
Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense. As such, the blame belonged to Martin for attacking Zimmerman and provoking the shooting.
CNN got this story sensationally wrong.
Penn State Emails – July 2012
In early July, CNN reported about the potentially damaging information against Penn State officials that was contained in email and documents that were leaked from the Jerry Sandusky grand jury/criminal investigation.
Again, leaked information is often biased, incomplete, and provided to the media for the purpose of pushing an agenda.
In this case, selective information was leaked to support the narrative that PSU officials (Curley, Schultz, and Spanier) covered-up Sandusky’s crimes.
PSU Officials = WITCH.
Throughout the column, CNN’s Susan Candiotti referred to the “purported” contents of the emails as if they were not in CNN’s possession. But later in the story, Candiotti and her editors seemingly screwed up and admitted to possessing the emails.
In the same purported e-mail provided to CNN, Curley goes on to suggest that if Sandusky "is cooperative," Penn State "would work with him" to tell Second Mile. If not, Curley states, the university will inform both Second Mile and outside authorities.
CNN stated its sources were two persons with knowledge of the case.
Who might those sources have been? Prosecutors? Investigators? Louis Freeh?
My money is on Sara Ganim.
Not so ironically, on March 22, 2012, Sara Ganim used a similar tactic of stating that an unnamed source provided her with the evaluation reports of Victim 6 that were attached to the 1998 University Park police report.
“A source who reviewed the documents told The Patriot News…”
The truth was – by the Patriot News’ admission -- that the police report had been in Ganim's possession since early 2011. The police report notes that the documents referenced by Ganim were attached to it.
Ganim undoubtedly knew what the evaluations and the police report said in early 2011. Page 10 of the police report revealed the state’s child welfare investigator, Jerry Lauro, directed Centre County Children and Youth Services (CC CYS) to conduct one of the evaluations. Therefore, her March 2012 column implying that the child welfare department investigator, Jerry Lauro, didn’t have any knowledge of the evaluations was untruthful.
Ganim’s blame shifting column headline read:
Patriot-News Special Report: 1998 Jerry Sandusky investigator would have pursued dropped case if he had seen hidden Penn State police report
CNN's July 2012 story perpetuated Ganim’s narrative of a PSU cover-up.
It hired Ganim later in 2012.
Her and CNN’s #FakeNews continued.
Unverified – UNC Athletes Can’t Read – January 2014
A January 2014 CNN report by Ganim relied extensively on Mary Willingham's "research" which allegedly found 183 University of North Carolina athletes read between the 4th and 8th grade level. Willingham, adding fuel to the fire, claimed she turned a blind eye to cheating and NCAA violations.
But, Willingham's study was not peer reviewed.
Her allegations of cheating and NCAA violations were unchecked.
In a word, Willingham's work was unverified and Ganim didn’t check with anyone else at UNC to confirm Willingham’s information.
Ganim and the rest of the media didn't let facts stand in the way of a good story.
Former Governor Jim Martin investigated the UNC paper classes back in 2012 and correctly found that the problem was a lack of oversight of the African American Studies (AFAM) department by the academic side of the school. Many of the classes were "aberrant" or "irregularly taught" from 2007 to 2011.
"The athletic department, coaches and players did not create this," Martin told the board of trustees. "It was not in their jurisdiction, it was the academic side."
When the media began fanning the flames about a cheating scandal in 2013, the administrators claimed no knowledge of what was happening in AFAM and pulled out the "corporate crisis playbook."
Like in the Sandusky scandal involving PSU, this #FakeNews story led UNC administration to hire a law firm to conduct a sham investigation and perform a public cleansing. In the end, the Wainstein Report, like the Freeh Report and the more recent Pepper Hamilton Report at Baylor, scapegoated the athletic program.
Big Time Athletics = WITCH.
By comparison, Tucker’s report was much more thorough than Wainstein’s and arrived at the correct conclusion.
Similar to CNN’s White Hispanic story, at least one member of the media understood what was going on and spoke out against the narrative of an athletic scandal.
ESPN's Jay Bilas, who attended Duke University – a fierce rival of UNC – put his biases aside and became a voice of reason. He properly assessed the problem was academics, not athletics. He pointed out that no coach can establish a class and a coach assumes if a class is offered, it's legitimate.
In short, Bilas understood the blame-shifting narrative that took place in the UNC scandal. Ironically, Bilas was unable to understand that the same type of blame shifting took place in the Sandusky scandal. (More on that in a later blog)
While Bilas got it right, the majority of the public continues to believe the sensational #FakeNews story that phony classes were set up to benefit UNC athletes.
Ganim and CNN continued to produce more #FakeNews in 2016.
Paterno ignored 1971 report– July 2016
Sara Ganim’s column regarding an alleged 1971 child sex abuse incident that was allegedly reported to Joe Paterno should serve as reminder of why she won a Pulitzer Prize for LOCAL (not investigative journalism) about the “Penn State Scandal.”
Ganim covered the scandal for over a year and knew that Sandusky was an acquaintance offender who befriended pre-teen boys and groomed them for victimization. In the beginning of her #FakeNews column on the 1971 report, she mentioned that victims were hesitant to come forward as a result of their "close relationships" with Sandusky.
As such, she obviously knew her story of Sandusky picking up a 15 year-old hitchhiker didn’t fit with Sandusky’ modus operandi. Neither did this person’s allegations that Sandusky plied him with drugs and alcohol before forcibly raping him.
In an appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan, Ganim bragged that she sat through all of the Sandusky trial. She knew that no other victim testified to anything remotely close to this individual’s allegations.
This story was one falsehood after another.
The story continued on its incredulous path by next stating when the foster parents of the youth (dubbed Victim A) found out, they directed him NOT to call the police, but instead to call high-ranking Penn State officials. The story got even more incredible when it stated the foster parents allegedly told the youth that Penn State wouldn't call the police.
In what was surely another fabrication, the alleged Victim A states that he called the University and took part in a conference call with Joe Paterno and a man named Jim.
After allegedly telling them he was raped by Sandusky, he alleged Paterno and Jim threatened to call the authorities on him because they couldn't believe an attack could have come from a man who "did so many good things."
That allegation is simply undone by the fact that Sandusky wasn't famous in the community for his charitable work in 1971. In fact, Sandusky had little of a track record on the coaching staff, having joined it in 1969. He was an unheralded position coach then, but most importantly, didn’t form his Second Mile charity until six years later (in 1977). He had no history of doing “good things.”
Ganim had to know these claims were false because she covered the scandal from 2011 until late 2012 and was quite familiar with Sandusky’s history.
Joe Paterno = Witch
If this story was true – and it isn’t – but if it was, the blame for failing to protect this boy was on the foster parents.
But Ganim and CNN was not about to let the law or logic stand in the way of a good story.
Next, CNN and Ganim took the risk of bolstering the claims by relying on a completely biased witness who had a local reputation for erratic/irrational behavior.
Ganim’s corroborating source was a locally well-known Paterno-hater named Bernie McCue. Had the movie Happy Valley been a box office smash, maybe more people would have realized that Ganim was using a biased source.
McCue was featured in the movie Happy Valley conducting a pathetic one-man protest at the Paterno statue.
McCue also had other anti-Paterno actions in his past, including writing derogatory and offensive notes in the courtesy newspapers and magazines provided at the Corner Room, then returning them for other patrons to find.
He was also arrested for harassment regarding an incident allegedly over Peachy Paterno ice cream being served at the Berkey Creamery.
Ganim apparently ignored McCue’s past and foisted him on the unwitting American public as a reliable witness.
The only credible part of Ganim's story came at the end, where a state trooper recalled thinking the story was "too crazy to be believed."
While Ganim's lack of journalistic ethics has been proven time and time again and the fact that CNN allowed this story to be printed demonstrates their journalism ethics to be equally low.
When I wrote to CNN and pointed out the problems with the story and asked for a retraction – I didn’t get a response.
The story remains on CNN’s web-site and Ganim remains employed there.
Anal Rape – November 2012
Ganim’s reputation was built on her a Pulitzer prize for local reporting on the Sandusky case. However, she uses her Pulitzer credentials to pretend to be an investigative reporter and is considered credible in the industry.
Little does the public and other journalists know just how much information as fabricated, omitted, or altered in order for Ganim and the Patriot News to turn the Sandusky child victimization case into a Penn State scandal.
And that was done with just two words.
By interjecting the term “anal rape” into the coverage, the story immediately became sensationalized. That was followed by writing a knowingly false story to push the agenda of a PSU cover up.
Two days after the PSU Board of Trustees removed Paterno and Spanier from their positions, Ganim wrote a factually challenged story outlining the missed opportunities to curtail Sandusky’s crimes. It included a passage in which the testimony of Gary Schultz was taken out of context and the order of reporting was changed in order to put forth a false narrative the PSU watered down McQueary’s report every step of the way.
From the article (my emphasis added):
“According to the grand jury, then, here is how McQueary’s eyewitness account became watered down at each stage:
McQueary: anal rape.
Paterno: something of a sexual nature.
Schultz: inappropriately grabbing of the young boy’s genitals.
Curley: inappropriate conduct or horsing around.
Spanier: conduct that made someone uncomfortable.
Raykovitz: a ban on bringing kids to the locker room.”
First, the grand jury report did not use the term “anal rape.” It used “anal intercourse.” Ganim would later allege that she used the term rape because local district attorneys felt it would help them get more rape convictions. Ganim also noted that it was easier to use the term “rape” than to write out “Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse” each time. Obviously, that’s a rather hollow rationale given that “IDSI” – the acronym for Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse – has same number of characters as “rape.”
Next, on December 16th, 2011, McQueary testified (page 72) that he "never used the word anal or rape in this from Day 1.”
Two sentences. Two falsehoods.
Third, Paterno did not inform Gary Schultz of the incident. Paterno informed Curley. Thus if Curley said it was “horsing around,” then Schultz escalated – not watered down the version of events.
As more truth is revealed, the story continues to collapse.
Schultz’s testimony was read into the record on December 16, 2001. Schultz’s testimony (page 211) was very clear that McQueary did not tell him of grabbing of the genitals. Schultz instead stated he had the feeling and/or got the impression that Sandusky and the boy were wrestling around and it might have happened. In short, Schultz’s testimony was that he could not specifically recall what he was told by McQueary.
McQueary confirmed Schultz testimony when he was asked if “he saw Sandusky touching the boy’s genitals?”
McQueary’s response (page 73) was “Absolutely not.”
Based on this evidence, Ganim’s “watered down” narrative completely collapsed and she knew it on December 16th, 2011.
Did Ganim correct her story?
Did she retract it?
What did she do with it?
She submitted it as part of her award package to be considered by the Pulitzer Prize committee.
Sensationalism took precedence over the facts. The Pulitzer Committee obviously didn’t fact check any of the stories and Ganim won based on her blame-shifting narrative of a PSU cover up.
Ironically, when those with considerable knowledge of the case (i.e., PSU alumni) inform the media about who was actually responsible to protect the children, the media accuses the alumni of blame-shifting.
The state of the media has gotten so hopeless that Pope Francis felt the need to weigh in.
In December, the pope said scandal-mongering media that focused only on muckraking or that spread fake news risked becoming like those who have a fascination with excrement.
He stated that spreading disinformation was “probably the greatest damage that the media can do” and using communications for this rather than to educate the public amounted to a sin.
The Pope's statements sums up what PSU alumni have been complaining about for over five years.
Unfortunately, the media has shown no signs that it is willing to change its ways and it is hell bent on continuing to press its agenda through #FakeNews and Witch Hunts.
To CNN, PSU will remain as the Witch and they will continue to shift the blame away from where it belongs -- even though their #FakeNews endangers the lives of children.
THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL ENDORSEMENT