Erin Burnett Hears the Critics–But Still Misses the Point

Last night (10/4/11) CNN host Erin Burnett noted that her fact check of the Occupy Wall Street protests had drawn some criticism. But she still doesn’t seem to get it. “Well, our story got noted documentarian Michael Moore, who watched the show last night,” she reported before playing a video response from Moore:

I just don’t understand that piece, you know, that new show. These companies, these banks, Goldman Sachs up here, they took billions and billions of dollars of citizens’ money, and they ask us to pay for their crime and we’re supposed to be OK because some of them have paid some of it back with interest. I mean, it just boggles the mind.

Burnett then replayed the exchange highlighted in FAIR’s Action Alert–where Burnett tells a protester that the TARP bailout funds were paid back (hence, there is apparently no reason to be protesting on Wall Street).

As we noted–as did Moore–this misses the point of the protests, and doesn’t even understand the criticism of the TARP bailouts in the first place. But Burnett still thinks she’s done some kind of service:

As I said last night, Dan was an earnest person and he wanted facts. And the best we can do all is have accurate information and then have serious conversations…. So, Michael Moore, come on, please, come OutFront.

Journalists like Burnett make choices about which guests to have on their show. If she were actually interested in hearing from an advocate for the Occupy Wall Street protests, or from an economic or policy expert who could talk about TARP bailouts or economic inequality, these people are not hard to find–they’ve been showing up on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann’s Current show and so on. One such critic–Harold Meyerson–wrote a column in the Washington Post that was particularly informative. Erin Burnett chose instead to have a former speechwriter for Rudolph Giuliani on to dismiss the protests, and then attempted to do so herself.

She can plead with Michael Moore to appear on her show, or she can actually address the criticism of her report. That’s the way to have an actual serious conversation.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.