CNN En Español recently gave a master class in selective outrage, as displayed by their coverage of presidential pardons. One recent pardon was covered factually and neutrally. The other required an explainer and was bookended with an editorial crack at the issuing president. It’s not hard to guess which president drew bias and which did not.
Contrast and compare CNNEE’s coverage of President Donald Trump’s commutation of former Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois with that of President Barack Obama’s commutation of convicted FALN terrorist Oscar López Rivera (click “Expand” to view transcript):
JUAN CARLOS LÓPEZ, CNNEE: Among the two names announced today, which perhaps have generated the most interest, let’s begin with Oscar López Rivera from Puerto Rico.
He was sought since 1976 for a terrorist attack in New York that killed four people and left 60 dead (sic) wounded.
President Obama’s decision, then, reduces his prison sentence from 70 years
The sentence is shortened by 7 years
LÓPEZ: President Trump heads to California, but before boarding the presidential aircraft he announced pardons and commutations for 11 individuals, including associates of his personal attorney Rudy Guiliani.
IONE MOLINARES, CNNEE: That’s a total of seven pardons, Juan Carlos, and four commutations- this is a practice that presidents normally set off for the end of their terms, precisely because they are controversial and because presidents just don’t like having to answer for these highly controversial decisions.
What happens with the president is that he did, in fact, take a shine to that presidential power from very early on, and from then on he went forward with the idea of pushing all these pardons and commutations, and this time doing so in the midst of a presidential campaign, Juan Carlos.
LÓPEZ: What’s interesting here is that both Republicans and Democrats rejected Blagojevich’s pardon.
But that's how he’s draining the swamp.
President Obama’s commutation of convicted FALN terrorist López Rivera was met with widespread condemnation. But this didn’t register at CNNEE, and didn’t warrant a snide editorial from host Juan Carlos López, who inserted his “draining the swamp” dig at the end of their coverage of President Trump’s various executive clemencies.
Nor did that segment feature an explainer on the executive power to pardon. We didn’t hear correspondent Ione Molinares speculate as to why Obama saw fit to shorten the sentence of a man who at the time of his arrest was found with a gun, several fake IDs and a slew of blasting caps.
CNN En Español’s coverage makes clear that the only distinguishing factor in these controversial pardons is that one was issued by Donald Trump and the other was not.