The 5 Most Cringeworthy Media Moments Of 2020

(Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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The media has been replete with hypocrisy and outright absurdity over the course of this tumultuous year. As the year comes to a close, here’s a list of the five most cringeworthy media moments.

The Cuomo Brothers’ Cotton Swab

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a March 25 order that required nursing homes and other kinds of long-term care facilities to admit patients who had already tested positive for coronavirus. By the time Cuomo rescinded the order May 11, more than 5,000 had died in nursing homes—the most in the nation. The Daily Caller News Foundation revealed that figure was actually an underestimate in a May 15 report that showed the New York State Department of Health was not counting nursing home residents that died in the hospital of coronavirus as nursing home deaths throughout early May. Despite this, Chris Cuomo, host of CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time, said his brother’s leadership “wowed” him over the course of the pandemic.

In a May 20 appearance on Cuomo Prime Time, Chris joked with his brother after Andrew received a coronavirus test during a press conference (press conferences that won Cuomo an Emmy award).

“Now, a few questions about this process,” Chris asked about the coronavirus test, “First of all, is it true that when you were having the test administered, you inhaled and the doctor’s finger went all the way up your nose and got stuck and had to be released with a tool?”

“She wanted to comment that I have a little button nose and she was afraid that the swab would actually hurt because it extended my nasal cavity. She was speaking about the delicacy of the nose,” the governor responded jokingly to Chris.

“Is it true that this was the swab that the nurse was actually using on you and that at first it went into your nose and disappeared so that in scale this was the actual swab that was being used to fit up that double barrel shotgun that you have mounted on the front of your pretty face?” Chris asked his brother as he held up a giant cotton swab prop.

The New Woke Times

Infighting broke out at The New York Times over the editorial board’s decision to publish a June 3 opinion from Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton titled “Send In the Troops,” which made the case that President Donald Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act to quash riots that plagued many major cities in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

Upon publication, several members of The New York Times’ staff tweeted “Running this put Black @nytimes staffers in danger.”

“Running this puts Black @nytimes staff in danger *and* it’s FUCKING DUMB AS SHIT. I stand with my colleagues,” columnist Kyle Buchannan’s Twitter critique of the opinion read.

James Bennet, The New York Times’ editorial page editor, addressed the outrage on Twitter, and further explained why the paper ran Cotton’s opinion in a June 4 piece titled “Why We Published the Tom Cotton Op-Ed.”

“We published Cotton’s argument in part because we’ve committed to Times readers to provide a debate on important questions like this. It would undermine the integrity and independence of The New York Times if we only published views that editors like me agreed with,” Bennet wrote.

Later on June 4, Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The New York Times announced that the paper had reviewed the piece to see if it met its standards. “This review made clear that a rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that did not meet our standards,” Murphy said in a statement.

During an interview on Fox News that June 4 evening, Cotton said “My op-ed doesn’t meet the New York Times standards. It far exceeds their standards which are normally full of left-wing sophomoric drivel.”

Cotton’s op-ed was updated June 5 to add an editor’s note at the beginning of the piece, laying out why the piece did not meet the paper’s standards. “Given the life-and-death importance of the topic, the senator’s influential position and the gravity of the steps he advocates, the essay should have undergone the highest level of scrutiny,” the note read. It also claims that some of Cotton’s points were disputed (much like any opinion), even though the Times published an opinion titled “Tom Cotton’s Fascist Op-Ed” by Michelle Goldberg that says Cotton was advocating for “massive violence” against Americans, revealing himself as a “dangerous authoritarian.”

Bennet eventually resigned June 7 over the fallout from Cotton’s opinion, according to The New York Times. Adam Rubenstein, the individual who personally edited the senator’s opinion resigned earlier this December.

Other writers left The New York Times over the controversy. Opinion writer Bari Weiss resigned from her post, and authored a scathing resignation letter that called “Intellectual curiosity… a liability at The Times.” Weiss’ letter also shed light on the toxic work environment created by the hard-left members of the paper.

The Protest Double Standard

After the death of George Floyd, millions of Americans took to the streets during protests and riots. The media, which had previously covered anti-lockdown protests and Trump rallies as “extraordinarily dangerous” due to the threat of coronavirus, took a different stance on the COVID-related dangers of racial justice protests. 

The Media Research Center’s (MRC) NewsBusters created a supercut of the corporate media’s coverage of Trump rallies versus Black Lives Matter protests to illuminate the double standard.

In the video, CNN’s Chris Cuomo said attending a Trump rally is “the worst thing you could do” during a pandemic. The Daily Caller did not find definitive evidence that Trump rallies during the summer months were so-called super spreader events.

However, when Cuomo covered protests and riots after the death of George Floyd, he did not offer the same condemnation for large gatherings. “Please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful,” Cuomo said on his cable news show.

The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell said the president was “pretending the coronavirus has disappeared” a week after he asked a racial justice protest organizer what it was like “to be marching arm-in-arm there with the police chief.”

Public Health Officials were also complicit in excusing large gatherings to fight racial justice despite the risk they pose of spreading coronavirus. “Let’s be clear about something: if there is a spike in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks, don’t blame the protesters,” Chair Of New York City Council Health Committee Mark Levine tweeted, “Blame racism.”

Calling The Hunter Biden Story A Russian Plant

When the New York Post published an Oct. 14 story about the contents of a hard drive from a laptop owned by Hunter Biden that exposed President-elect Joe Biden’s son’s fast lifestyle and some questionable business dealings with corporations in China and Ukraine, members of the media claimed the story was Russian disinformation.

National Public Radio (NPR) called the revelations regarding Hunter’s business dealings and his lifestyle “distractions.”

“We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions,” said Terence Samuel, NPR managing editor.

Politico also ran a story titled “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.” The story focused on a letter signed by 50 former intelligence officials. “We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement,” the letter claimed, and provided no further evidence to suggest Russia was behind the story.

Business Insider ran a similar story based on the word of two former CIA operatives that did not have personal access to the hard drive’s contents.

Because of the media’s smears, Mac Isaac, the owner of the computer repair shop who first obtained Hunter’s laptop, posted a YouTube video trying to convince the public he was not a Russian spy.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said the claims that the Hunter Biden story was Russian disinformation was “simply not true” during an October interview on Fox Business.

In an Oct. 29 report, the Daily Caller News Foundation said cybersecurity expert and founder Errata Security Robert Graham analyzed materials from Hunter’s hard drive and found the emails and metadata to be genuine.

Even after Ratcliffe said there was no evidence the Hunter story came from Russia and an independent analysis of the hard drive’s contents concluded the material was genuine, Joe has continued to suggest the story is “all a smear.”

“There’s overwhelming evidence from the intelligence community that the Russians are engaged,” Joe said incorrectly.

Again, Joe claimed the stories about Hunter’s laptop Russian disinformation during a December press conference.

“Fiery but Mostly Peaceful Protests” In Kenosha, WI

After the police-related shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the city, as well as many others across the country, experienced protests that quickly turned into riots. The unrest in Kenosha lasted more than a week, from Aug. 23 through Sept. 1. During CNN’s coverage in the early morning hours of Aug. 25, the network ran a chyron at the bottom of the screen that read “fiery but mostly peaceful protests.”

While the chyron was displayed at the bottom of the screen, a live shot from Kenosha showed CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez standing in front of multiple structures on fire. Jimenez said the demonstrations “were largely peaceful” and his burning backdrop stood in “stark contrast” to the day’s events.

“It wasn’t until night fell that things began to get a little bit more contentious,” Jimenez added from the scene, “Things were thrown back and forth, police were using some of those crowd dispersal tactics like tear gas, even playing very loud sounds to get them out.”

“What you are seeing, the common theme that ties all of this together, is an expression of anger and frustration over what people feel like what has become an all too familiar story,” he said of the fallout from the Blake shooting.