If President Trump says something dubious, you better believe CNN will be there with an immediate fact-check. They sometimes do it right there in the on-air news chyron.
The same can’t really be said for the network’s handling of equally doubtful things said by Democratic lawmakers.
Take, for example, the difference this week in CNN's coverage of Trump’s campaign rally in Montana versus its coverage of Rep. Joaquin Castro’s, D-Texas, appearance Friday morning on its own network.
The president said Thursday evening in Missoula that the midterms are “going to be an election of the caravan. You know what I'm talking about."
He added: "As you know, I'm willing to send the military to defend our southern border if necessary, all 'cause – because of the illegal immigration onslaught brought by the Democrats because they refuse to acknowledge or to change the laws. They like it. They also figure everybody coming in is going to vote Democrat, you know. Hey, they're not so stupid when you think about it, right?"
CNN’s online and television news desk wasted little time responding.
Anchor Don Lemon claimed hours after the rally with a mournful shake of his head that the president was guilty of “falsely claiming that Democrats are to blame for illegal immigration.”
CNN published an entire story the next day with the headline, “Trump claims (without evidence) that Dems are behind migrant caravan ahead of midterms.”
In contrast, the network has gone relatively easy on Rep. Castro, who claimed Friday on CNN’s own airwaves that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may have ordered the alleged torture, murder, and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Let me get to the point that I think is most disturbing right now. The reporting that Jared Kushner may have, with US intelligence, delivered a hit list, an enemies list to the crown prince, to MBS in Saudi Arabia, and that the prince then may have acted on that, and one of the people that he took action against is Mr. Khashoggi,” Castro said Friday.
This seems irresponsible ... Raul Castro said on CNN that Kushner delivered MBS a "hit list" that included Khashoggi, and MBS acted on it. pic.twitter.com/uKbKgAabdJ— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 19, 2018
To CNN’s Poppy Harlow’s great credit, she interrupted the congressman to make it clear to her viewers that her network did “not have that reporting.”
“I’m not sure where you’re getting that,” she said.
“There has been reporting to that effect. I’ve seen reporting to that effect,” Castro responded.
"Not CNN's reporting," Harlow muttered.
Unfortunately, that's where the fact-checking ended. Though Harlow pushed back during the interview, neither she nor anyone else at CNN has gone so far as to accuse Castro of producing a claim “without evidence.” No CNN host has not gone so far as to accuse the congressman of lying. CNN has not published a story noting Castro has zero evidence to back his Kushner hit-list theory.
For the same network that published stories including “Trump, without evidence, claims he 'saved' Miss Universe's job,” “House Republican, without evidence, suggests new texts show misconduct of former FBI officials,” “Trump's attorney claims, without evidence, the President's 2017 interview on Comey firing was edited,” “Trump claims (without evidence) Obama nearly launched war with North Korea,” and “Trump claims (without evidence) that Dems are behind migrant caravan ahead of midterms,” one would think they’d be similarly tough on Castro’s baseless but far more consequential conspiracy mongering.
Maybe someone at CNN will say something later this evening. Maybe.
Full disclosure: This author is a paid contributor with CNN/HLN.