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Opinion: Will CNN’s new ad be effective?

You see an apple.

But not just any apple. Perfect in color, perfect in shape and without blemish, this is the apple other apples dream of being. It is the acme of apples, the most apple-y apple you ever saw, and you’d never mistake it for something else.

“This is an apple,” says a male voice, as a piano idles aimlessly. “Some people might try to tell you that it’s a banana. They might scream, ‘Banana, banana, banana,’ over and over and over again. They might put BANANA in all caps. You might even start to believe that this is a banana. But it’s not. This is an apple.”

The apple’s bona fides thus established, a tagline flashes onscreen: “Facts First.” Then comes a logo: CNN.

Thus goes an ad that debuted Monday on Facebook. Here’s hoping it’s effective. The truth needs all the help it can get in an era where untruth spews from the highest levels of American governance with a brazenness and frequency never seen before. Still, there’s something a little rich in the fact that the spot was produced by a network known for shows where pundits in boxes yell half-truths over one another.

The best of them, meaning the worst of them, was Jeffrey Lord, the Donald Trump surrogate who, before he was fired in August for tweeting a Nazi salute, made jaws drop on a regular basis with the crazy things he said. Such as when he called the Ku Klux Klan a “leftist terrorist organization.” And said Black Lives Matter caused the rise of white supremacy. And blamed singer Ariana Grande for the terrorist attack at her concert in England.

It’s bad enough Lord spewed that nonsense. What’s worse is, CNN gave him the platform to do so. The network would likely say that it just wants to make sure all viewpoints are represented. But the barrenness of that rationale was exposed 13 years ago in a commentary Emory psychology professor Drew Westen did for NPR. He had noticed how CNN brought in Republican and Democratic flacks to comment on “claims” that weapons were missing from an Iraqi munitions dump.

But these were not “claims,” said Westen. It was a fact the weapons were missing, and also a fact that this was an embarrassment for the Bush White House. He concluded that CNN failed to frame it as such, brought in left and right talking heads to cover itself, out of fear that reporting the truth would be seen as bias. “We have,” he said, “grown accustomed to hearing two versions of every story, one from the left and one from the right, as if the average of two distortions equals the truth.”

That’s how squeamish news media were over a decade ago. It has only gotten worse since then.

To be sure, CNN does not bear all or even most of the responsibility for America’s retreat into facts-free incoherence. For that, blame the internet (which gave lies greater reach), the schools (which did not demand critical thinking), the politicians (who acted like politicians), and all of news media, both print and electronic.

CNN, like many others, has embraced false equivalences in the search for that mythic beast, “objectivity,” has sought to suspend the role of judgment in journalism — as if the one did not, by definition, require the other. Now the proverbial chickens come home to roost.

Our president is a liar, our Congress is a circus, our friends are frightened, our enemies emboldened and our society is pulling itself apart. This, we are told, constitutes making America great again. And some people believe it. Why not?

A country that can’t tell apples from bananas is a country that will swallow anything.

— Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald.

Comments

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

Great points, Mr. Pitts. The problem is, you have people who do not know the difference between fact and fiction, and lying, if it gets you what you want, is okay.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Cait McKnelly

"The truth is the greatest enemy of the State."<br>
"If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself."<br>
"A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth"<br>
All of these are quotes from Joseph Goebbels.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Daniel Kennamore

It's an interesting ad, but I don't think it will be effective.

The type of person who would believe it's a banana isn't watching CNN.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Calvin Anders

CNN is right, the Trump administration is practicing a very crude and aggressive propaganda strategy and they strategy involves repeating lies and attacking anyone who points out the lies. I enjoyed Sen. Corker's characterization of Trump. He said Trump "has great difficulty with the truth." But CNN and other media outlets and the political establishment in Washington need to own up to some of the behaviors that led up to Trump's opportunity to fictionalize his narrative. For decades politicians have increasing been selective and misleading in the way they present arguments. As money has become the driving force behind most political action, subtly bending the truth by sharing deceptive statistics or leaving out key information became a normal way of communicating. News organizations, over time, increasingly failed to observe strict journalistic standards of fact checking. They increasingly relied on presenting two biased sides of an issue rather than digging into the details. Also, many news organizations have become dominated by an editorial bias of their corporate ownership. In some cases this may be subtle. In others it has been extreme. Trump is just taking the next step. Instead of merely misleading the public by twisting and distorting facts, he just makes things up. He doesn't even care if he gets caught. And many voters don't see the difference between these total lies and traditional political tricks like quoting very narrow and specific factual statistics to support a conclusion for which there is also evidence to the contrary. Trump is the Frankenstein's monster who comes about as the media slowly absolve themselves of journalistic responsibility. He is the infection that comes when a body is not will maintained. I'm not trying to compare CNN to Trump, nor am I comparing Democrats or many Republicans to Trump. Outright lies are very different from distortions. I'm saying that Trump arrived in a climate created largely by the establishment that allows him the luxury to speak the most horrible fabrications with very little backlash.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Bob Smith

Considering the scanty nature of CNN's ratings, what difference will an ad make?
http://thefederalist.com/2017/07/06/r...

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Brock Masters

I used to believe Fred when he typed in CAPS, but no more...thank you CNN 😀

Trump does lie. Most politicians so it is hard to vote for one that doesn’t.

We need better choices, but how do we get them?

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Daniel Kennamore

"Trump does lie. Most politicians so it is hard to vote for one that doesn’t."

Going to have to push back on this normalization of Trump's behavior.

Yes, politicians stretch the truth, fudge numbers and spin.

What Trump does is blatantly lie about nearly everything including facts that nobody but he and his supporters question.

If you honestly think his level of contempt for the truth is the same as 'any other politician' you're a lot more naive than I took you for.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Bob Smith

Hillary was accusing Trump of colluding with Russia while she was actually doing it herself. That shows a staggering disregard for the truth.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Daniel Kennamore

Oh honey, is being so delusional painful?

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Bob Smith

Danny, Danny, Danny, do you not follow our nation's news at all?

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Daniel Kennamore

Infowars and Fox are not news, Bobby. They are GOP controlled propaganda.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Andrew Applegarth

I notice how you never just say propaganda. You always have to specify 'GOP controlled propaganda' to distinguish them from your propaganda, such as CNN and MSNBC to name two...

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Bob Summers

CNN is perfect for congenital Liberals.

So far, Trump is the only one NOT colluding with the Russians.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Calvin Anders

Now the Bobs chime in repeating the Trump lies. If the Washington Post story is accurate, the Clinton Campaign and the DNC may have been involved in financing research associated with the famous Trump Russia Dossier. If that's true and if they knew about it, this would mean they paid for opposition research about a political rival. Opposition research is legal. Trying to dig up dirt about ones opponent is a standard practice and everyone does it. That IS NOT colluding with the Russian government. It's not even remotely collusion. Just because the research was about Trump and Russia, does not make it collusion. That's just stupid. And Republicans seem to keep ignoring the part where the Washington Times indicates that the financing of the effort for the dossier was initiated by Republican opposition to Trump.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Bob Summers

Your elucidation of congenital Liberal's behavior is enlightening.

People choosing to be a "Republican" or a "Democrat" is inconsequential.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Bob Smith

False reporting to the FEC is illegal. Better luck next time, Calvin. http://www.campaignlegalcenter.org/do...
BTW, are you aware the Russians poured $145 million into the Clintons' slush fund that was disguised as a charity?

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Calvin Anders

If the false reporting is established, then you would be right. If established, the DNC and the Clinton campaign may be guilty of mischaracterizing the nature of some of their expenditures. NOT COLLUSION. Still would have to be proven, but that's far different from conspiring with a foreign government to subvert the outcome of an election.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Armen Kurdian

LP talking about objectivity is like appointing Harvey Weinstein as your Equal Opportunity Advocate. He never cared about the truth for the last eight years, all of a sudden it matters to him.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Gary Stussie

CNN is garbage ...

Today the Justice Department had entered into settlements with Tea Party groups whose tax-exempt status was significantly delayed by the IRS dating back to 2013, “based solely on their viewpoint or ideology.” The settlements involve payments to the plaintiffs and an apology from the IRS. Groups with names involving “Tea Party” or “Patriots,” or those with specific policy positions concerning government spending, were subject to “inappropriate criteria” to “screen” applications.

Nothing about this on CNN?

Now CNN says "Let's stop talking about Russia" ... because it is about to bit the DNC and Crooked Hillary in the butt!

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Paul Beyer

Doubt you have ever watched CNN or any other legitimate news site. No, Breitbart , Fox news, Infowars nor any AM radio nutcase qualifies as legitimate news sources.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Carol Bowen

Actually, under so much scrutiny, FOX News has improved. Years ago, FOX reporters sniped at other reporters and never addressed issues. The reporting was petty and trivial. At least now, its articles express positions and perspective.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Gary Stussie

Please don't suggest that CNN is a legitimate news site. If you every watched some of those sources you would see CNN Execs owning up to trashing Trump for ratings.

I watch Fox and One America News then check CNN, CBS, ABC & NBC to see what they say. Remarkably, nothing positive about our President EVER shows up ... and the rest of the population is getting the message.

Regarding Pitts latest piece of trash ... see http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/1...

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Bob Smith

In other news: "...Fast forward to Uranium One and Fusion GPS and evidence of actual collusion and coordination between the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and the Russians, and we find ranking member Schiff once again acting as a surrogate for both President Barack Hussein Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He cannot do both. Nor can he ignore evidence that Team Hillary conspired with the Russians to both influence our elections and to engage in arguably treasonous pay-for-play in exchanging control of 20 percent of our uranium supply, the raw material for nuclear weapons, for $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation...." http://www.americanthinker.com/articl...

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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William Cummings

"..control of 20 percent of our uranium supply, the raw material for nuclear weapons..."

Of course, if you get into the real world, you will find that the company mining the uranium has no license to export it. The uranium is still in the US under the control of the NRC. Uranium One [actually a Canadian company] sells to civilian energy companies for generating electricity. It is true that uranium could be used for nuclear weapons. However, given that they cannot export the uranium and given that the Russians already have approximately 7000 nuclear bombs, the notion that this is some sinister plot to transfer uranium to Russia for weapons use is suspicious.

But then, so is virtually everything published by "American Stinker"

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Ken Lassman

Isn't it interesting that the money laundering was going on all the way back to 2004, the beginning of the Dubya Bush years? I don't think we've heard the whole story yet. And once again, the Russian culprits, instead of anyone noticing the thick mud that coats them head-to-foot, are pointing out the mud on all of those they have shaken hands with. They thereby continue to sew seeds of doubt about all segments of American society by showing our vulnerability to their uniquely developed methodology of lies, doubts and corruption. The Russian strategy is working like a plot straight out of Jerzy Kosinski's novel The Painted Bird: using lies and cultivating doubt about everyone around you, using the resultant confusion to create an opportunity for personal gain.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Brock Masters

There is a reason the Bush family is so cozy with the Clinton and Obama families. All crooked.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Carol Bowen

It’s naiive to think we vote for angels. The voters are not angels either. We spend way to much time dredging up the past, out of context, out of time. Let’s work on the future.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Brock Masters

I think there is a difference between being imperfect as we all are and crooked in the sense that you as a politician put your self interest ahead of the American people.

I believe Bush waged war against Iraq to avenge the criticism his father received for not going into Baghdad. Many lives were lost. Also he put the Patriot Act in place that spies on American people.

These are evil acts.

I agree with working on the future but we must not forget the past nor let illegal acts go unpunished.

3 weeks, 2 days ago

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Gary Stussie

Watch "Clinton Cash" tonight on One America News (Chnl 347 OANHD) at 9 PM Central to see how fortunate we are that Crooked Hillary was not elected.

3 weeks, 1 day ago

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Curtis Martell

I don't even read the articles any longer. I just read the comments. Clinton! Nukes! Uranium! Emails! Bengazi! Goebbels!

3 weeks, 1 day ago

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Richard Aronoff

Daniel - the latest revelations about HRC and the DNC are being reported by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

3 weeks, 1 day ago

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Bob Smith

More questionable CNN ties to Fusion. http://dailycaller.com/2017/10/28/cnn...
Yeah, it's Daily Caller but the formerly mainstream media outlets are falling down on their responsibilities here.

3 weeks, 1 day ago

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William Cummings

The Daily Caller and yet another unproven conspiracy theory.

3 weeks, 1 day ago

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