CNN appeared to think Trump's Diet Coke habit was more serious than NYC terrorist attack
To understand exactly what occurred in the world of MSM on Monday, you first have to go back to a New York Times (NYT) report from Saturday, titled 'Inside Trump's Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation.' It's a dramatic headline to say the least, which the outlet backs up by claiming to have interviewed "60 advisers, associates, friends, and members of Congress."
In the report, the outlet – a well-known foe of President Trump – allegedly details the leader's day-to-day life in the White House. Citing estimates from "people close to him," the newspaper stated that Trump "spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television... marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back."
That claim was enough to get the attention of Trump, who tweeted that it was a "false story" and "bad reporting." But mainstream media seemed to care less about the TV claim and more about a singular sentence which stated – without naming a source – that Trump drinks a dozen Diet Cokes a day.
Another false story, this time in the Failing @nytimes, that I watch 4-8 hours of television a day - Wrong! Also, I seldom, if ever, watch CNN or MSNBC, both of which I consider Fake News. I never watch Don Lemon, who I once called the “dumbest man on television!” Bad Reporting.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2017
"Watching cable, he shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or for one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day," the NYT article states. That was all mainstream media outlets needed to make a story.
Quick! Call the experts!
The mainstream media landscape – both in the US and abroad – was dominated with Diet Coke headlines on Monday, two days after the New York Times published its article. A Washington Post opinion piece didn't stop at Diet Cokes. It went on to shame the president for reportedly... wait for it... eating McDonald's on the campaign trail. Granted, the claims are that he often ate two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and a chocolate shake in one sitting – but should that really matter, amid North Korean nuclear threats and turmoil in the Middle East?
In an effort to justify the hysteria, many outlets called in experts to provide comment about the ill effects that 12 daily Diet Cokes can have on a person. "That amount of anything is potentially harmful for anybody," dietician Aisling Pigott, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, told International Business Times UK. "Twelve cans is equal to 500mg of caffeine a day, a large amount of artificial sweeteners and lots of gas."
Nutritionist Dr. Joanna McMillan went so far as to tell stuff.co.nz that the Diet Cokes could be affecting the president's brain. "If [Trump’s] eating a rubbish diet with these drinks, considering he is slightly overweight, looking at his diet overall then his brain function is affected," she said.
'What happens to your body if you drink 12 cans of Diet Coke a day, like Donald Trump?' reads a Monday headline from British newspaper Metro. It of course provided the answer by way of David Katz, a nutrition expert at the Yale School of Medicine. "Twelve cans a day, diet or regular, it's potentially going to do damage to your skeleton, and eventually that can be a serious problem," he said.
CNN called in numerous experts, one of whom explained the dangers of 12 Diet Cokes using a physical display of, well, 12 Diet Cokes. Another expert told the outlet that Diet Coke can fill a person with bubbles, cause bloating, and damage tooth enamel.
Diet Coke v terrorist attack
CNN really excelled itself when it came to devoting on-air time to the Diet Coke saga, deciding to give it significant attention on Monday. Some would say its dedication to the story was a bit over-the-top, but what happened next was even more shocking.
When news broke of a suspected terrorist attack near Times Square in New York, CNN made the decision to continue shaming Trump about his beverage choice, rather than interrupt its segment for the breaking news.
The timeline of events is easily understood when you watch this video of the Diet Coke segment, which begins at 8:39am EST. Twenty seconds into the broadcast, the anchor tells her guest – CNN contributor and Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio – that the network has breaking news so she may have to cut away from him. However, the clip continues until 8:47am, with no mention of the terrorist attack taking place at all during that time. At 8:45am, a blurb can be seen on the ticker at the bottom of the screen.
8:45, more than an hour after the pipe-bomb story broke, CNN was busy with Trump’s diet Coke. Note the ticker at the bottom right of “NYPD responding” pic.twitter.com/x2miM3LnLm— Yossi Gestetner (@YossiGestetner) December 11, 2017
“US news was talking about the bombing at 7:54. Nearly an hour later, CNN is whining about [how] Donald Trump drinks Diet Cokes and watches too much TV instead of reporting about terrorism in New York City,” Dan Gainor, vice president of the Media Research Center – a conservative content analysis organization – told Fox News. “CNN might tell you what it's giving you is an apple, but if it is, it's rotten.” RT.com broke the news at 7:53am EST.
There is a bit of irony in what on-air guest D'Antonio said while the terrorist attack was unfolding. "[Trump’s] probably watching us right now because as the Times reported, he tunes to CNN when there's breaking news. CNN is the strongest network in hard news...," he said. Not this time, D'Antonio. Not unless Diet Coke can be considered hard news.
‘Diet Coke truthers’
CNN's news judgment didn't go unnoticed on social media, with plenty of people taking to Twitter to express their surprise – and disgust – at the news outlet's priorities. "I love that @CNN has reduced itself to being Diet Coke truthers," one person sarcastically wrote.
I love that @CNN has reduced itself to being Diet Coke truthers.You are petty, trivial partisans.— Melissa Mackenzie 🌐 (@MelissaTweets) December 12, 2017
Another person suggested CNN's focus on Trump's Diet Coke habit was "inevitable," considering the network's alleged Russian collusion investigation is "fizzling out."
Another Twitter user took a less emotional approach, simply comparing the coverage happening on CNN and Fox News at the same time. CNN shows the Diet Coke story, while Fox shows a reporter near the scene of the terrorist attack.
Been bouncing back and forth between CNN and Fox to compare coverage of the NYC attack this morning. CNN took a break to update us on Trump’s Diet Coke intake. pic.twitter.com/1MYAyte57q— Phil Woodall (@phil_woodall) December 11, 2017
Donald Trump Jr. even joined in, stating that "at least there is a possibility of this being correct unlike your big exclusives. Hard hitting media from ice cream to Diet Coke... CNN the least trusted name in 'news.'"