CNN essentially threw its anchor under the bus.
During an interview with Trump defense team adviser Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), CNN anchor Jake Tapper pushed back on Johnson’s claim that House Democrats conducted the impeachment investigation in “super secret hearings” by using a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), which he said had prevented himself and other House Republicans from reviewing “all of this evidence, so-called, that had been gathered in the basement.”
Tapper pointed out that the 48 House Republicans from three committees who were allowed in the SCIF “is not nothing” and also pressed Johnson as to whether it bothered him that President Donald Trump’s legal team had made a similar false claim on the Senate floor during their arguments -- questions which Johnson deflected.
The interaction was newsworthy in itself and should have been the focus of the interview.
And yet, shortly after the segment aired, CNN instead chose to highlight a different portion of the segment in a tweet which quoted Johnson asserting that former national security adviser John Bolton’s account of Trump withholding military aid to Ukraine “doesn’t make any difference at the end of the day. ... Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not impeachable offenses.”
CNN’s tweet did not provide any clarification of Johnson’s false claim, despite the fact that Tapper attempted to correct him in the same video CNN attached to the tweet.
While CNN later tweeted that Tapper pressed Johnson on his claims about the SCIF, the network’s initial instinct to rebroadcast a GOP talking point is representative of a frequent problem in media coverage of the president — the uncritical repetition of Republican lies. Mainstream outlets routinely repeat misleading or false claims from the Trump administration, particularly on Twitter, without context or skepticism.