CNN misrepresented a group of pro-Trump political activists as average Republican voters — again
On Tuesday night, CNN aired a panel of Trump-supporting American women who explained to the nation why they still support Trump. It was premised as a look into the minds of American jus' folk; it was either that or kidnap the lunch crowd at a small-town heartland diner, and this version doesn't lead to angry questions about who's going to pay for the eggs.
But a number of media watchers noticed something peculiar about this particular panel of Trump supporters: They looked awfully familiar.
Crazy how CNN's "randomly selected woman Republican voters" keep turning up the same people https://t.co/xKKaYzDJHL— Timothy Burke (@Timothy Burke) 1563398775
In fact, what CNN identified only as a panel of Republican voters were eight Trump-supporting party activists from the rather humiliatingly self-named group Trumpettes of America. It is a group literally devoted to selling itself as American jus' folk who happen to, when asked, Still Support Trump regardless of what he does. But CNN did not mention this; again, the only identification the audience received was that they were Republicans.
And these same women have been appearing on CNN with regularity, each time being presented as average Republican folks, rather than as a team of dedicated activists. Leadership Committee member Dena Miller has appeared on the network at least three times—identified only as a Republican or a Trump supporter. The same goes for Texas Women for Trump co-chair Gina O'Briant.
CNN isn't doing the work of corralling Trump supporters off the street to make their case. CNN is phoning up a specific group of Republican political activists and repeatedly passing them off as a random sampling of Republican voters. If that sounds dishonest to you, you're not alone: Berkeley journalism dean Edward Wasserman told The Washington Post that CNN's acts were "a fraud on the viewer."
It's a pro-wrestling move. The viewer is not seeing what they think they are seeing: The segment was orchestrated, in advance, with the parts of Republicans being played by actors who have professionally dedicated themselves to the roles.
It's unclear what CNN thinks it is gaining from withholding this information from the viewers. To be sure, multiple segments interviewing the Trumpettes of America about their devotion to their own namesake would seem more self-evidently stupid to viewers than segments interviewing more average Republicans—but only just. It may be a cost-saving move; the Trumpettes may literally carpool to the studio together, and it is certainly easier to summon a dial-a-group than a legitimately random sample. But not disclosing it is ... crooked. It's crooked. CNN is lying to its viewers about what they are seeing.