CNN, NBC, MSNBC journalists say Republicans can't be covered equally with Democrats

CNN's Brian Stelter, NBC's Lester Holt and others have rejected idea of balanced reporting

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Figures on liberal media networks CNN, NBC and MSNBC have pushed the narrative that Republicans do not deserve equal coverage alongside their Democratic counterparts, often claiming Republicans stand for anti-Democratic values and are more likely to push falsehoods. 

On MSNBC's "The ReidOut" Monday night, Joy Reid and her guest, left-wing political analyst Mathew Dowd, suggested the media were too neutral in their reporting on the Republican Party, and thus needed to ramp up the hostility. She added that both sides were "not the same," and also urged fellow reporters to "tell voters" the GOP was a "threat" to freedom. 

She wondered to Dowd how the media could "get out" of this "‘both sides’ trajectory," to which he advised the media to act as though they were living in a society that wasn't free and treat Republicans accordingly.

Just a week earlier, CNN primetime host Don Lemon also shot down the idea Republicans and Democrats should be afforded equal footing in media coverage. Lemon called the freedom to "state [his] truth" and stand up for his viewpoints "imperative," noting that journalists no longer live in a "Walter Cronkite society."

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CNN host Don Lemon says journalists cannot "pretend" both sides are equal in reporting on Republicans and Democrats. (CNN/screenshot)

"We cannot have a false sense of equivalency about what is happening when it comes to politics in our country. There is one party, right now, that is not operating in fact, that has been misleading the American people, and that is the Republican Party, sadly, which I used to be a member of… years ago," Lemon said. 

Fellow CNN host Brian Stelter also questioned whether Republicans should be given the same coverage as Democrats in December, during a discussion with Los Angeles Times columnist Jackie Calmes on her piece condeming "both-siderism."

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Brian Stelter of CNN speaks onstage during 'Discovery Gets Cooking' at Vanity Fair's 6th Annual New Establishment Summit at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on October 22, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

"Is it that we’re treating Democrats and Republicans equally and ignoring GOP radicalism? Is that the heart of the problem?" Stelter asked. 

Last March, NBC News anchor Lester Holt received praise from other liberal media figures after saying reporters don’t need to hear both sides of a story in order to determine what the "truth" is. 

"I think it’s become clear that fairness is overrated... the idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in," Holt said at the time. 

He later said that a reporter’s duty is to be "fair to the truth" and called on others to not give contrary views time or attention.

"Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda, in fact, it’s just the opposite," he added. 

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Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones poses for a portrait before taking the stage to discuss her  book, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Similar arguments have also been made by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, New York Times Magazine writer and 1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones, as well as former New Republic editor Peter Beinart and former TIME managing editor Richard Stengel. 

Results published from a June Pew Research Center survey of nearly 12,000 journalists revealed a majority don't believe both sides deserve equal coverage.

The poll found 55% said every side "does not always deserve equal coverage," while 44% said journalists should strive to report on both sides of an issue.

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Seemingly conflicting with this previous response, an overwhelming majority of journalists, 82%, said the press should keep their personal views out of their reporting, but only 55% told Pew that they think that journalists are succeeding at this goal.

Fox News’ Kristine Parks and Brian Flood contributed to this report.