The Civilian Sentinel

CNN vs. Fox: Why two cable networks are obsessed with each other

By Paul Farhi | The Washington Post

When a young survivor of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting accused CNN of trying to “script” his questions for its town-hall-style telecast last week, Fox News’s opinionated hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham jumped on the story.

Carlson interviewed the teenager, Colton Haab, on his prime-time program, and expressed amazement at CNN’s supposed attempt to manipulate him: “It’s shocking to us, too, trust me, in the actual journalism business.” Ingraham added her own sneer, commenting that CNN has “a history of planting questions.”

No matter that the actual facts would quickly exonerate CNN, which released emails showing that the network had simply invited Haab to ask its panel of politicians a question he’d previously voiced. The dust-up had an irresistible attraction for Fox: It was another chance to beat up its cable news competitor.

The two networks are long and bitter rivals, of course, and have tweaked each other off and on since Fox News’s inception in 1996. But the crossfire has taken on new intensity in the Trump era. Hosts at CNN and Fox now trade blows almost daily about whose coverage or commentary about President Trump is more distorted or unfair.

Fox, for example, aired multiple clips of CNN’s “town hall” about gun violence last week, using it to call out “liberal” media bias in the debate over gun control. Hannity had the National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch on his program to talk about her experience on the CNN broadcast; an on-screen banner said she had been “heckled, interrupted and called a ‘murderer’ ” at the event.

For its part, CNN has frequently found something newsworthy in whatever Fox’s host are opining about. After Ingraham criticized National Basketball Association superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant for expressing their political opinions (“Shut up and dribble,” she said), CNN aired a news segment about her comments in which host Brooke Baldwin pointed out that Fox sometimes gives celebrities such as Kid Rock, Chuck Norris and Phil Robertson a platform for their political opinions.

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