One of the ways extremists bent on destroying U.S. democracy have been most successful is in their relentless assault on the press, fomenting distrust around truth as a central tenet in our national political discourse.
The Hill on Friday morning published an article meant to tarnish CNN, in which they report the allegations of a San Diego TV station that has accused CNN of passing on airing its reporter’s “local view” on the border wall. The implication, of course, is that CNN passed on that “local view” because CNN has a political agenda with which the reporter’s perspective didn’t comport. The article is already “front page above the fold” on the Drudge Report. Be sure: It will be on the lips of every conservative news manufacturer by the end of the day and the latest outrage on AM radio.
CNN responded to KUSI’s accusation in a statement: “We called several local stations to book someone for a show. We didn’t end up booking any of them. That happens many times every single day. We did, however, book a reporter from KUSI for a story on immigration and the border wall in November. This is a non story.”
Conservatives who yell the loudest to point out supposed manipulation are doing so to hide their own attempts to manipulate public opinion. You see, what was conveniently absent from the Hill’s reporting is that KUSI, the station making these allegations, is owned and operated by Channel 51 of San Diego, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of McKinnon Broadcasting, which is owned by the notoriously conservative McKinnon family. KUSI has been described as nothing but a mouthpiece of the San Diego Republican Party and as San Diego County’s own Fox News.
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Let’s start with president and general manager of the channel, Michael McKinnon. He’s been named one of the most influential business leaders in San Diego by the San Diego Business Journal, which notes that Michael “is a longtime supporter of conservative causes and candidates in the San Diego region.”
Michael and his family aren’t of the typical “business Republican” variety either.
The McKinnon family had donated more than $150,000 to Republican candidates and committees through 2011, according to research done by OB Rag, a local progressive blog. At the time, the blog highlighted some of the family’s giving:
24 donations totaling $17,020 to disgraced, pay-for-play Republican former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.
$18,650 to Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray, who makes regular visits to KUSI when he returns from Washington, D.C.
$21,000 in contributions to now-retired Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter ($26,000 if you count a $5,000 contribution to Hunter’s “Peace Through Strength” PAC) and an additional $11,450 to his son, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter. Hunter Sr., also a frequent guest on KUSI.
$8300 has been contributed to the San Diego County Republican Central Committee under the tenure of Tony Krvaric.
$52,500 in contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
In the past decade, those numbers have only gone up as the family attempted to extend its influence and undermine legitimate journalism.
Meanwhile, just to show you how fair and nonpartisan the family as well as KUSI are, take the tweets of one of its employees, Digital Content Manager Mike McKinnon III, grandson of the company president and scion of the arch-conservative republicans of San Diego County. On his personal Twitter page, this completely unbiased employee of a so-called news outlet has spent the morning retweeting the White House and Governor Mike Huckabee, father of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. His tweets read like the fever dream of your typical far-right propagandist.
The right is going to try to manipulate us into believing that there is media bias at CNN as they shield the media operations that do have real bias. They are going to use this latest example to confuse people and create further mistrust of journalism, an institution we need right now to stop our country from sliding further toward the “truth is relative” society that totalitarians and despots require to operate.
Instead of falling for it again, it’s time for us to make sure our friends and relatives are aware of this latest right-wing smear against CNN driven by a news outlet that pushes a dangerous, divisive, and demeaning agenda for the United States.