KUSI, an independent San Diego station is claiming that CNN backed out of a local report on the proposed border wall “after finding out wall works,” as the station put it in a story posted on its website.
- KUSI says that CNN called the station — as well as other local media outlets — Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, asking for a local perspective on the wall.
- The station offered to provide a piece from Dan Plante, who has reported “dozens” of times on the border, including a story from 2016 that was retweeted by former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and posted on DrudgeReport.com, according to the station’s story.
- Gingrich is a Republican and DrudgeReport.com is known for being right-leaning.
- CNN opted out of the offering from KUSI — and all of the other outlets it contacted.
- KUSI decided go public with CNN’s snub and the story, combined with a report from CNN’s Jim Acosta was widely derided online for illustrating the wall does work, was quickly picked up by conservative media and social media accounts.
- “We believe CNN declined a report from KUSI because we informed them that most Border Patrol Agents we have spoken to told us the barrier does in fact work,” wrote the station on its website.
- The story is bylined “Mike McKinnon III,” who is, according to public records, the majority shareholder of KUSI, which is owned by McKinnon Broadcasting under the legal name Channel 51 of San Diego Inc., but does business as Texas Television Inc.
- CNN’s Oliver Darcy, meanwhile, tweeted screenshots showing both Plante and McKinnon have retweeted Donald Trump, Sarah Sanders or other right wing accounts in the past.
- CNN’s public relations team confirmed via Twitter that it reached out to KUSI as well as other local media outlets for content, pointing out it does that every day for multiple stories.
- CNN ultimately said it did not use any of the offerings from local outlets.
- The cable network did note it did use a piece from KUSI for immigration coverage in November.
- “We called several local stations to book someone for a show. We didn’t end up booking any of them. That happens many times every single day. We did, however, book a reporter from KUSI for a story on immigration and the border wall in November. This is a non story,” read the tweet.