In May 2017, CNN boss Jeff Zucker gave an interview to the "New Yorker Radio Hour" and made waves by proclaiming, "Fox is state-run TV and is extolling the line out of the White House. MSNBC has become the opposition, and I think CNN is seeking the truth." There wasn't a laugh track.
In 2022, it's quite obvious that CNN can now be accused of sounding like state-run TV.
On Feb. 27, CNN anchor Pamela Brown (whose father, John Brown, served as the Democrat governor of Kentucky) robotically read a Twitter thread from Jill Biden. She introduced it like this:
"First Lady Jill Biden addressed the anxiety so many of us are feeling about the ongoing war in Ukraine and the uncertainty of the future." She can speak for "so many of us" if she's talking about CNN's audience full of Democrats.
Then Brown spent nearly a minute and a half reading 198 florid First Lady words (duplicated on screen) about how parents, teachers, and military families are coping, where to find mental health resources, and how "Joe and I continue to pray for the brave and proud people of Ukraine." CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett also had a brief article about this on CNN.com.
The Russians are bombing Ukraine, and CNN wants you to feel grateful that we have the Bidens in the White House to help us cope with the disturbing results of the president's geopolitical fecklessness.
The robotic messaging for Team Jill continued the next afternoon. CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak tweeted, "The White House says Jill Biden wore this mask with a sunflower today to show support for the Ukrainian people. It's the national flower of Ukraine and has become a symbol of resistance to Russian invasion."
Less than a half-hour later, his colleague Kate Bennett seconded that emotion: "@FLOTUS face mask today features a large embroidered sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine, in solidarity. (Her polka dot ensemble is by designer Brandon Maxwell)".
Bennett sounds like she's tweeting for Vogue. Brandon Maxwell is known for dressing Lady Gaga and judging on Lifetime's reality show "Project Runway."
There are 24 articles pictured on Bennett's profile page as I write. Half of them are about the Bidens, and half are about the Trumps. The tone differs sharply.
Here are some typical Jill Biden headlines:
—"Jill Biden's whirlwind first year as the President's eyes and ears across America"
—"First Lady Dr. Jill Biden calls for healing"
—"Jill Biden and Elizabeth Dole team up to highlight military caregiving"
There's also an article each on the new Biden puppy, and later, the new Biden cat. Compare that with Bennett's most recent Melania Trump headlines:
—"Melania Trump sells digital painting of her eyes"
—"Melania Trump's hat auction has even those who know her scratching their heads"
—"Melania Trump's auction items fail to bring desired price"
In 2021 around this time, Bennett was touting how "the new First Lady is redefining the role of the White House's East Wing," which is false. She's returning it to the Michelle Obama model, with not quite the Michelle Obama level of idol worship. Oh, Jill put big, colorful hearts on the White House lawn for Valentine's Day! Bennett gushed, "I remember seeing those hearts throughout the lawn all week long. It really brought a smile to so many people's faces."
There they go again, that "so many people" are cheered and charmed by Biden. The apples in the "Facts First" commercials have been replaced with the image of CNN planting Valentine's hearts on the White House lawn.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.