President Trump’s campaign launched a television ad on May 1, commemorating his first 100 days in office. This is the first version they released. (Donald Trump)
This post has been updated.
In a self-congratulatory ad marking his first 100 days in office, President Trump labels major television networks “fake news.” So CNN is refusing to sell the president airtime to show the commercial.
“CNN requested that the advertiser remove the false graphic that the mainstream media is ‘fake news,’” the cable channel said in a statement. “The mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false and per policy will be accepted only if that graphic is deleted.”
The “fake news” graphic to which CNN referred appears over a split-screen showing NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and CBS’s Scott Pelley.
The ad was produced by Trump’s campaign committee, which remains active; the president already has filed to seek reelection in 2020. The Trump campaign said Monday that it planned to spend $1.5 million to place the commercial on TV and online.
“It is absolutely shameful to see the media blocking the positive message that President Trump is trying to share with the country,” Michael Glassner, the Trump campaign’s executive director, said in a statement. “It’s clear that CNN is trying to silence our voice and censor our free speech because it doesn’t fit their narrative.”
By the dictionary definition of “fake,” CNN is correct to say that “the ad is false.” With few exceptions (Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair), mainstream news outlets do not fabricate stories. They might display shades of bias or publish errors requiring corrections, but that does not make them fake.
Trump, however, has tried (largely successfully) to turn “fake news” into a catchall slur for reporting he doesn’t like.
Observe: In an email about the ad, his campaign said it is “calling out the mainstream media for peddling fake news and not reporting on the fact that President Trump is making America great again.”
By Trump’s standard, news is fake if it does not promote the subjective view that he is “making America great again.”
Trump has aimed the “fake news” pejorative at CNN more often than at any other outlet. Meanwhile, CNN President Jeff Zucker has warned that “the perception of Donald Trump in capitals around the world is shaped, in many ways, by CNN. Continuing to have an adversarial relationship with that network is a mistake.”
It is easy to understand why CNN would ban Trump’s insulting ad from its airwaves.