Now that it is safe for mainstream media to report the possibility that the coronavirus leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, a conservative shareholder group is seeking to know what the origins of CNN, MSNBC and other major media outlets are. Why companies’ CEOs allow their journalists to dismiss this notion as a conspiracy theory for nearly 18 months.
The group, called the Free Enterprise Project (FEP) and headed by Scott Shepard, is having the best success. For example, on Thursday, Shepard told David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery, which is merging with WarnerMedia (CNN’s parent), that he thinks “it has become clear that COVID– 19 had escaped from a Wuhan virology lab. There is a conspiracy theory and the most likely explanation—both false and fraudulent posing as CNN claims—of those who suggested the possibility, including Sen. Tom Cotton and other respected officials. involved, they were liars, sly and racist.”
Zaslav declined to answer Shepard’s question through a middleman, citing the fact that Discovery does not yet control CNN — although Zaslav has spoken about CNN on previous occasions. For example, speaking to the press on May 17, he said he planned to let CNN “become the world leader in news.”
Thursday’s exchange took place digitally via a Discovery shareholders meeting, where a moderator acknowledged there were many questions about “journalistic standards,” but declined to read them aloud.
“Zaslav’s theft was absurd,” Shepard told Granthshala. “They already discussed CNN and the value it will bring to the new unit. But that value depends on CNN running with proper oversight and high standards. Today’s suggestion is that Discovery will provide neither.”
WarnerMedia, now a unit of AT&T, said last month that it would merge with Discovery to form Warner Bros. ready to either depart or receive. A bigger role after the deal closed.
Shepard’s Thursday question aimed at Zaslav followed a similar one at a Comcast shareholder meeting on June 2 when he began his question with CEO Brian Roberts: “Comcast’s news media holdings are ‘conspiracy theory’ or ‘fake news’.” Makes a regular habit of labeling as ‘Things that later turn out to be true,’ then listing some of the items he claims he backed, including the alleged Hunter Biden laptop scandal with the Wuhan lab-leaked Concept is also included.
Roberts defended his reporters without mentioning Shepard’s specific examples.
Roberts responded, “We are very proud of NBC News and are committed to producing the highest quality of journalism on our platform. The same goes for Sky News and if they feel they have done something wrong, They usually talk about it.”
“I’ve always respected the pledge we made to buy NBC Universal and our agreement with the FCC that we would not interfere with news operations and we took a similar pledge when we bought Sky News,” he said.
“So, you are definitely entitled to your thoughts and we appreciate sharing them but I believe NBC News does an amazing service and we have a hardworking team of journalists around the world who work to keep society informed. Trying my best for it.” Roberts said.
Shepard was not allowed a follow-up question, but told Granthshala that “Roberts has explicitly stated that Comcast does not monitor its news assets, including NBC and MSNBC. But given the horrific track record of error and failure to achieve the most basic of journalistic integrity standards at those outlets, So, that amounts to an admission. Comcast has waived its fiduciary duty to its shareholders.”
Comcast declined to comment.
In 2007, the conservative non-profit think tank National Center for Public Policy Research launched FEP, which buys a small amount of stock in companies to gain access to shareholder meetings. In the past, Shepard would step up to the microphone to ask his long, pre-written questions, although in a Zoom/digital environment his typed questions are usually cut by an executive and specifications stripped before being put to the CEO. What Shepard called is problematic.
Such was the case with AT&T, which remains the parent of CNN until WarnerMedia closes its merger with Discovery. On April 30, Shepard wrote to AT&T CEO John Stankey in what he called perceived bias in CNN, specifically claiming the network had “false stories about Russians offering a reward for the deaths of American soldiers.” forward” and “Sicnick about the cause of death of US Capitol policeman Brian.” Shepard called on CNN to “defeat Donald Trump and incite racial division” to falsify and hype COVID-19 news. also accused.
But AT&T interpreted Shepard’s question as saying that it was similar to questions posed by additional shareholders, so Stankey was boiled down to the question verbally posed by a moderator: “We need to own CNN’s own ownership.” Some stockholders feel that owning a cable news channel can be divisive as not everyone agrees with the views expressed on air.”
Stankey responded that CNN has won more Emmys in the past five years than it has in the past 35, and that it has editorial independence from AT&T. “We believe in free speech, free press, your beliefs, and we really think those things are incredibly important,” he said, calling CNN to have “rigorous journalistic standards for accurate, truthful reporting.” Standing is expected, and we continue to make sure that is the case.”
“AT&T rephrased our question as if we asked about bias in general,” Sheppard said. Granthshala. “Lockdowns and virtual meetings have been an excuse to rephrase difficult questions. For example, with Netflix, they didn’t even take our question.”
Shepard joked that “sometimes a company turns a question into something like, ‘You’ve been awesome; how can you be any more brilliant?’ But they will keep the nugget of the real question we asked.”
He said Twitter is a particularly grim example, as he typed a question several hundred words long about the social media giant’s suspension of conservative freelance journalist James O’Keefe. [Note: Twitter says O’Keefe was banned for violating its “platform manipulation and spam policy.”], allowing users to tweet their alleged celebrations of deadly attacks against Israel; allowing LeBron James to allegedly “threate” a police officer (the NBA star later deleted the tweet); and allows users to describe an alleged Syrian Muslim shooter in Colorado as a “white Christian terrorist.”
But Twitter moderators denounced the question: “Why do you continue to censor only the conservative side?” Prompting Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to respond: “There is no bias in any of our policies, in our enforcement, in our machine-learning algorithms. If we’re ever prompted for anything, we’ll do it immediately. Let’s see and fix it. If we make any mistakes along the way, we admit them and correct them.”
For Thursday’s meeting with Discovery shareholders, Shepard not only asked about the Wuhan lab, he also spoke about CNN treating Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop glitch as fake news and Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia. Also asked about And he asked the CEO to explain why anchor Chris Cuomo was allowed to allegedly “collude” his brother, New York Gov. It came to
“How, specifically, do you intend to act to prevent the failures of CNN’s journalistic standards and ethics from eroding Discovery’s reputation and market position?” He asked the CEO of Discovery, who declined to answer any questions about CNN.
Using the same language Thursday at the Discovery shareholders meeting, Shepard asked the Comcast CEO to apologize to Sen. Cotton and other Republicans for pushing the notion that the coronavirus leaked from the company. lab in Wuhan, but Roberts did not directly respond to the challenge.
In addition, Shepard asked the AT&T CEO if he would consider changing CNN’s “designation of the hard-left opinion megaphone from the news network”, although Stankey did not respond and CNN declined to clarify. whether Stankey even knew about the written question. Orally replaced by a moderator during the shareholder meeting.
Granthshala Covered the Wuhan lab theory in April 2020 in the article, “The Controversial Experiments and the Wuhan Lab Suspected to Start the Coronavirus Epidemic.”