Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would radically slow the admission of Syrian refugees to the United States. CNN’s global affairs correspondent was (understandably) disheartened, and now, for expressing that disheartenment on Twitter, she has been suspended for two weeks.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reports that, because Labott is a reporter and not a commentator, she is required to comply with CNN’s “neutrality principle/sham.” Apparently, however, there are some exceptions to this rule: anchor Don Lemon is permitted to express opinions on air so long as they are not “predictably partisan.”
Evenhandedness, mind you, isn’t just a matter of journalistic principle for CNN. It’s a business imperative. Competitors Fox News and MSNBC are “two partisan networks, that are looking out for their viewers,” CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker has said. That split, he has argued, makes CNN ever more “essential” to viewers.
To which (probably misguided) end the corporate machinery has already locked Labott back into place:
Everyone, It was wrong of me to editorialize. My tweet was inappropriate and disrespectful. I sincerely apologize.— Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) November 20, 2015
Haha. We sincerely believe you!