Tennessee legislator introduces bill to label CNN and The Washington Post as “fake news”

Photo courtesy of the Washington Times

A Tennessee legislator has introduced a bill to declare CNN and The Washington Post as “fake news.”

Representative Micah Van Huss (R—Jonesborough) filed an amendment to his previous bill of the same subject, filed on January 29, stating that the two news outlets were “fake news and part of the media wing of the Democratic Party.”

“We recognize that fake news outlets suggest ideas without directly making accusations so that they can claim innocence from their ivory towers, ” Van Huss said.

Upon introduction of the bill, Van Huss stated that he had a list of articles from various news sources that were “very hypocritical,” but had narrowed it down to the Washington Post and CNN for their coverage of President Trump’s supporters.

Specifically mentioned was a segment from CNN where anchor Don Lemon laughed as GOP strategist Rick Wilson said, “Trump couldn’t find Ukraine on a a map if you had the letter ‘U’ and a picture of an actual physical crane next to it,” and later called Trump supporters “the credulous boomer rube demo.”

Also mentioned was a book review by The Washington Post and a segment from CNN, reviewing the “Cult of Trump” by Steven Hassan.

“I’ve filed HJR 779 on behalf of a constituency that’s tired of fake news and Republicans who don’t fight,” Van Huss said in his Facebook post regarding the bill.


In the bill, Van Huss quickly shifts from his direct statements against CNN and The Washington Post into a generalizing attack on “the left,” and honing in with fervor on the use of the word “cult” by an editor of The Washington Post to describe Trump supporters.

“It is fascinating to see this latest ‘cult-of-Trump’ meme coming from the left, because they are the true masters of deploying mobs to demand total conformity and compliance with their agenda,” the bill states. “Any thoughtful observer can see the cult-of-Trump meme as a classic case of psychological projection; after all, accusing someone’s perceived opponent of exactly what one intends to do is a very old tactic.”

The bill then moves on to praise Trump. “The mainstream media is in a panic because President Trump has opened the eyes of many average Americans who are tired of politics as usual. They are tired of being politicians’ political pawns, and they are tired of every other country’s needs being put before their own… President Trump understood their frustration when he ran for office; he has taken a stand on behalf of the middle class and everyday people, and that is the reason he has growing support.”

The bill concludes with the State of Tennessee “recogniz(ing) CNN and The Washington Post as fake news and part of the media wing of the Democratic Party…We condemn them for denigrating our citizens and implying that they are weak-minded followers instead of people exercising their rights that our veterans paid for with their blood.”

Van Huss’ bill is also a strong testament to the startling increase in negativity towards journalists from the Republican party: in a survey conducted by Quinnipiac University in 2018, results found that 81 percent of Republicans agree with Trump’s assertion of journalists being an “enemy of the people,” as opposed to a part of democracy.

The language of the bill also closely follows Trump’s own increasing attacks on journalism: just during Trump’s presidency, the president has used the term “fake news” in 630 tweets, and has targeted The Washington post and CNN and their reporters in 116 and 228 tweets, respectively. (Read every tweet Trump has targeted the media in since 2015 here.)

This isn’t the first time Van Huss has made the news for a bold legislative choice. While debating a bill to make hazing a misdemeanor offense in 2018, Van Huss cited satirical news website The Onion.

“I mean right here on The Onion, a report about Kentucky seniors who haze freshman basketball players, but I do think it’s an issue,” Van Huss said.

Van Huss later moved to table the measure. When confronted about his use of The Onion, Van Huss defended it by saying “You’ll find more real news on The Onion than on CNN.”

Read the bill in its entirety here.

Follow the progress of the bill here.

To contact Editor-in-Chief Angele Latham, email editor@mtsusidelines.com.

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