CNN Contributor Rebukes Network for Charlottesville Hoax

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David McNew/Newsmakers

CNN political commentator Steve Cortes has taken his own network to task for perpetuating the lie that President Donald Trump referred to neo-Nazis in the Charlottesville, Virginia, riot as “very fine people.”

As Breitbart News has noted repeatedly, CNN’s own contemporaneous reporting showed that Trump was referring to peaceful protesters over the issue of the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, and specifically excluding neo-Nazis, whom he said should be “condemned totally.”

Yet the network’s anchors, reporters, and contributors have claimed, over and over again, that Trump referred to the neo-Nazis as “very fine people” — even editing video deceptively to convince viewers of a fact that never happened.

Cortes himself tried to correct CNN’s mistake on air, and was rebuked by CNN host Erin Burnett. As he writes at RealClearPolitics Thursday (original links):

Just last week I exposed this falsehood, yet again, when CNN contributor Keith Boykin falsely stated, “When violent people were marching with tiki torches in Charlottesville, the president said they were ‘very fine people.’” When I objected and detailed that Trump’s “fine people on both sides” observation clearly related to those on both sides of the Confederate monument debate, and specifically excluded the violent supremacists, anchor Erin Burnett interjected, “He [Trump] didn’t say it was on the monument debate at all.  No, they didn’t even try to use that defense. It’s a good one, but no one’s even tried to use it, so you just used it now.”

My colleagues seem prepared to dispute our own network’s correct contemporaneous reporting and the very clear transcripts of the now-infamous Trump Tower presser on the tragic events of Charlottesville.

Despite the clear evidence of Trump’s statements regarding Charlottesville, major media figures insist on spreading the calumny that Trump called neo-Nazis “fine people.”  The only explanation for such a repeated falsehood is abject laziness or willful deception.  Either way, the duplicity on this topic perhaps encapsulates the depressingly low trust most Americans place in major media, with 77 percent stating in a Monmouth University 2018 poll that traditional TV and newspapers report fake news.  In addition, such lies as the Charlottesville Hoax needlessly further divide our already-polarized society.

CNN, whose motto is “Facts First,” has thus far, refused to correct or retract its repeatedly false reporting about what Trump said in Charlottesville, and has lately attempted to use the false narrative to connect him to the New Zealand terror attacks last Friday.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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