Like most of the mainstream media, CNN hasn’t handled the whole “Trump” thing well. The Donald’s bombastic style and tendency to insist that his words meant something other than their literal meaning has made him difficult to report on with any kind of consistency behind simply stating objective reality. Doubling down on these difficulties is the incredibly partisan environment of America today and audience’s increasing preference for reporting and media that caters to their particular political whims.
CNN’s preferred workaround for these challenges since back during the Obama years is to simply not take a position. The organization itself purely states what is literally happening from moment to moment with no interest in the truth, the nuances or the variables. This was seen as a major failure for the network during the 2016 election when they handed Donald Trump an unprecedented amount of free air time but refused to actually fact check or investigate the validity of his many lies.
Instead of investigative work, CNN tends to opt for “contributor opinions” that they can publish right alongside actual news but with a short disclaimer that absolves the network of actually being associated with whatever incompetent bullshit is about to follow.
Their headline piece over the weekend covering Trump’s first 100 days in office did not deviate from this strategy.
The piece of course opened with the necessary disclaimer:
“The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of the authors.”
-CNN, Opinion Network
It then created a platform for a pinata of random “experts”, “celebrities”, and “politicians” to voice whatever popped into their head about Trump’s presidency to date. This approach may have yielded some value if the panel consisted of experts weighing in on their respective fields or is some actual research had been conducted to measure how Trump stacked up to his contemporaries. Instead, what we got was CNN’s typical roster of trivia question contributors just shooting from the hip.
First up was Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan and proud owner of one of the most visually unpleasant websites ever created (seriously, don’t click that link). Granholm is a Democrat, politician and former attorney general so of course she was going to take Trump to task. She rattled off his failures, compared him to Obama and gave him a solid “F” to wrap things up in a neat, partisan package.
Next we had Rick Santorum. You may remember Rick for his famous feud with Dan Savage and the fact this his last name, “Santorum” is now slang for the leftovers of anal sex. What you may not remember is that Rick Santorum was also a Republican senator from Pennsylvania and ran in both the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. Santorum’s contribution is a meandering take down where he opens by saying “this 100 days shit is pointless” before applauding the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch (a win for Republicans more than Trump) and lecturing Trump on being generally stupid. He wraps it up with a “B” which seems generous.
So at this point it starts to take shape, yeah? We’re doing politicians. CNN has decided that politicians are sort of the “experts” who should comparatively grade the president? Nope. CNN isn’t about making sense.
Let’s jump to Errol Louis who is noted in the article as being the host of “Inside City Hall” which is apparently a nightly political show on something called “NY1” which is apparently a “New York all-news channels”. If it sounds like I don’t know much about Errol Louis it’s because I don’t. What I can tell you is that he’s not a politician so he completely destroys the running theme that CNN had going there.
I can – and should – also tell you that Errol Louis has a Tumblr where his giant lifeless eyes stare at you from above a smaller profile picture of himself like he’s a looming sea creature surfacing from the horizon to consume his own head. It’s actually pretty awesome.
What’s not awesome is Louis’ commentary in the article that mostly rips on Trump for his approval rating, lack of congressional support, and general dickishness. Errol then gives Trump a “B-” because this whole “grading system” makes no sense whatsoever.
The next grader is CNN’s longtime person “SE Cupp“. Cupp’s been kicking around the conservative political sphere for a while as an author and commentator and that’s pretty much it. She’s a person who contributes her opinions regularly and is also a conservative. In this piece she takes probably one of the most even and balanced approaches to Trump’s first 100 days and gives him a rounded “B”. Say what you want about her politics but the woman understands how grades work.
From here things only get more random and absurd. Van Jones shows up to have an emotional meltdown (that’s sort of his thing on CNN) and give Trump a searing “F minus”. Kayleigh (not a typo, serious) McEnany was summoned from the lovecraftian abyss that is TheHill.com (don’t go there) so she could provide two sentences where she confuses being “post-partisan” with being an unpredictable, irrational asshole and then hands Trump an “A-” because she’s an empty husk of conservative talking points.
It continues from there incorporating a total of 15 different personalities, “experts”, and contributors. The grading system never gets any better and seems to be exclusively driven by “whatever you feel”.
The end result however is that after reading this entire, exhaustive piece that CNN ran as a featured article on their homepage for almost a full day you come away having no idea what any of this means. Unless you entered this article armed with an intimate knowledge of who these “contributors” are and what their credentials mean then you’re liable to assume that Trump’s administration is either the best government ever conceived or the absolute worst.
What’s worse, because there’s no standardization to the grading and no theme to the graders you have no way of knowing how any of these metrics or people stack up against each other or Trump himself.
This is of course, all by design. CNN’s continued unwillingness to report on Trump with any kind of actual interest in outcomes or measurable results means that at best all they can offer is the disparate and random thoughts of people already primed for this kind of useless “contribution”.