One of CNN’s top commentators, political journalist Chris Cillizza, started an “Ask Me Anything” Reddit thread on Tuesday, but users filled the thread with critical questions and negative feedback.
While there were a few of the usual questions (favourite books, first job, etc), the forum was inundated with hard-hitting questions about his style of coverage, which he has long drawn criticism for, both at CNN and during his time at The Washington Post.
Many criticised Cillizza, saying that he “treats politics like sport” by pulling facts out of context for the false sense of balance.
“I’m curious as to whether or not you feel your approach to journalism can in any way be damaging to the public discourse,” wrote Reddit user LAngeduFoyeur before referencing a quote in which Cillizza wrote that it was not his job to assess “the rightness of each argument.”
Cillizza replied that he tries to evolve as a journalist and meant that to readers, perception often “matters LOTS in politics.”
Another user asked whether Cillizza thought that CNN’s choice to focus on subjects like Trump’s handshake with French president Emmanuel Macron “not only makes us all collectively stupider, but fundamentally devalues the role politics has in shaping our lives.”
Cillizza then wrote that he “does not view ‘horserace [sic] coverage’ as absurd” because “it is a vital part of how we cover elections.”
Along with joking questions on whether he, Wolf Blitzer and S.E. Cupp would succeed in Jeopardy, some queries also were little more than thinly-veiled attacks, with one user asking how Cillizza could “trick CNN into giving you so much money even though you only understand politics at a 5th grade level.”
One reporter for the news website Fusion, Libby Watson, asked whether Cillizza considered why “so many other journalists think you suck?”
To which Cillizza replied with “different strokes, different folks.”
The criticism is nothing new for Cillizza, who responded directly to it both in the AMA and in a post last September.