Magazine owner Jared Kushner doesn’t understand a free press

Donald Trump’s son-in law, and putative secretary of state, vice president, and First Lady Jared Kushner doesn’t seem to understand the concept of a free press.

It’s a remarkable thing for any American, let alone one who works for the president. But it’s also noteworthy because Kushner owns a magazine, the New York Observer. So you think he’d have a basic understanding of journalism.

The revelation came in a lengthy New York Times story about how Trump has been the best thing ever for CNN. CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker tells the NYT about a breakfast he had with Kushner:

Jared Kushner, photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography

Jared Kushner, photo by Lori Berkowitz Photography

Zucker had breakfast with Kushner a few weeks later in Manhattan. Kushner wanted to know why CNN still hadn’t fired anti-Trump commentators like Jones and Ana Navarro, who said on CNN in October that every Republican would have to answer the question of what they did the day they saw a tape of “this man boasting about grabbing a woman’s pussy.” (The comment elicited an angry response from one of CNN’s pro-Trump talking heads, Scottie Nell Hughes: “Will you please stop saying that word?” she demanded. “My daughter is listening.”) Zucker tried to explain that even though Trump won, the network still needed what he described as “a diversity of opinion.”

It’s a bizarre comment coming from Kushner, who along with Ivanka is alleged to be a moderating influence on Trump. But less so when you consider that Kushner may be little different than Sean Spicer — his job is to dance with the girl who brung him. And in this case, that girl is an obese lunatic with a fetish for autocracy. It’s entirely possible that Kushner was simply parroting Trump’s message of the day.

But putting that aside, it’s an interesting question as to CNN’s choice of pundits. Zucker recently responded to criticism of CNN’s commentators Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany by noting that you know their names. Meaning, they’re doing their job in a “at least you’re still talking about me” kind of way.

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The thing is, as former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett noted recently in a high-profile appearance on CNN, there are pundits and then there are pundits. It’s one thing to invite people on who further a discussion, and help enlighten viewers to a deeper understanding of the issues. It’s quite another to have people on simply because they fill some checkbox — female Trump supporter, check!

Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany (and Jack Kingston, who’s the worst) are a certain category of pundit who don’t just stick to the party line, they stick to the party talking points of the day. That means you usually won’t learn anything from them that you couldn’t just as easily get from a quick read of the daily Republican party press release. (Think: Jeff Gannon, with clothes.) And in today’s era of fake accusations of fake news, in order to obfuscate the truth, their presence becomes more problematic. I fear that cable news is becoming one never-ending version of CNN’s late show Crossfire, where everyone seemed to just yell at each other.

Having said all of that, it’s hard to argue with numbers. Clearly people are tuning in, more than ever. So I can appreciate Zucker not wanting to rock the boat by tinkering with success. But I wonder if there’s isn’t a way to have a little more PBS NewsHour and a little less WWE, and still pay the rent.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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19 Responses to “Magazine owner Jared Kushner doesn’t understand a free press”

  1. ComradeRutherford says:

    “a little more PBS NewsHour and a little less WWE”

    No. CNN hired the same guy that ran Fox “News” for 20 years specifically to reduce the PBS truth and increase the WWE fakeness.

  2. ComradeRutherford says:

    I chalk that up to David Koch’s takeover of PBS. There is no way anyone is going to piss off their biggest funder.

  3. Joekeener says:

    So you are saying that PBS is not liberal enough for you?
    Just move on over to Democracy Now and let that chick who is in desperate need of a makeover give you all the libtard “news” you need

  4. Joekeener says:

    Looks like Johnny needs to have his meds adjusted.

  5. z3r0.c001 says:

    Cougar Rides And Cums – Temptation:
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  6. emjayay says:

    Since you mentioned PBS Newshour:

    It’s boring. He said she said. The current main person, Judy Woodruff, is totally dedicated to not questioning anything said by anyone no matter how counterfactual. Since it’s possibly watched by Washington DC Republicans who would never bother with a Frontline or a Nova or Independent Eye, probably PBS figures that they have to keep the Newshour completely bland and ineffectual.

    Trump’s budget includes them out. They are afraid of doing actual interesting and useful reporting because they are afraid of challenging Republicans.

  7. FuzzyRabbit says:

    I turned on CNN the other night for the first time in 3 or 4 years. I turned it off a few minutes later. I wish I had those 15 minutes back. Watching CNN is a waste of time, watching “commentators” arguing about insignificant details.

    If you watch CNN, try this: turn it off for a week. I’ll bet you know more after that week than you will ever learn from CNN.

  8. Badgerite says:

    Spin-bot 3000’s. I hate that. I won’t even watch those shows anymore.

  9. Badgerite says:

    Yes. And that is a terrible disservice to democracy.
    Like Ted Koppel said. They are hurting the country.

  10. Badgerite says:

    Well, that’s good to know. Rachel Maddow is the new Edward R. Morrow for my money. She is entertaining. But she also investigates.
    And is cognizant of her role of informing the public as to what is true and accurate. Cognizant of the public right and the public need to know what is true.

  11. Naja pallida says:

    It coincided with news reporting having a ratings requirement, and news departments having to post a profit every quarter. It’s a lot cheaper to hire a gaggle of random talking heads who pretend to know what they’re talking about, than it is to hire real experts, and get real journalists to take the time to investigate and write stories.

  12. Jude Brown says:

    And MSNBC is beating the pants off CNN and Fox, with substance and sane talking heads.

    Who’d a thunk it?

  13. woodroad34 says:

    As Kushner doesn’t understand a free press…neither does Pravda (a Communist Party alternative facts newspaper, which means “Truth”). So, it appears there’s another connection between Russia and Trump…the lack of “truth” and understanding.

  14. Nicholas A Kocal says:

    Ivanka is not a moderating influence on her father. In fact, she is probably more dangerous as she can appear more sympathetic before she knifes you in the back.

  15. Hi Demo, I just posted that at another channel. I can’t wait for SNL to be back.

  16. Demosthenes says:

    These talking heads aren’t providing news. As John accurately writes, these propagandists mindlessly spew out Trump GOP talking points with scant concern as to the truth.

  17. Demosthenes says:

    Like Ivanka, Kushner is complicit:

  18. Badgerite says:

    When did ‘news’ become like a family dinner at Thanksgiving with relatives arguing politics all through the meal. The 24/7 thing leads to a kind of obsession with politics and political views that probably is not healthy and not truly informative. I’ll take Walter Cronkite any day of the week.

  19. mgiltz says:

    You’re being way too kind. The 24 hour news channels are exactly what brought the rise of a fascist like Trump to power. having on talking heads who parrot the party line no matter what may make for “fun” but it’s terrible journalism. CNN does this like everyone else and it’s wrong — whether they’re touting Donna Brazile or Trump’s former campaign manager. They call it balance; I’d call it a circus and not a good one. Have journalists and experts on to deal in facts and put issues in context. What’s good for General Motors was never automatically good for the country and clearly what’s good for CNN’s ratings is not good for democracy or even journalism.

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