top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Fear Sells


Photo credit, fair use


On November 15, 2022, Donald Trump announced his intent to run for President of the United States (U.S.) in 2024. Subsequently, CNN fact-checked his announcement.

CNN is the same network that in 2020 reported “fiery but mostly peaceful protests” as a reporter stood in front of burning vehicles. How peaceful!

Photo credit, fair use

CNN is the same network that in 2020, as millions of U.S. citizens were exposed to authoritarian lockdown procedures, deemed it appropriate for its news anchor to playfully joke about COVID-19 rather than discussing his governor brother’s alleged policy related to nursing homes or purported sex scandal.

Photo credit, fair use

CNN is the same network from which one contributing journalist reportedly stated on his way out the door that his role was that of a “media hall monitor,” rather than to presumably provide unbiased and objective reporting.

Photo credit, fair use

CNN is the same network that launched CNN+ that was canceled “only 30 days after its original launch.” Apparently it was quite popular until it wasn’t.

CNN is the same network that one source reported, “There also is a live interactive COVID-19 tracker on the that monitors cases and deaths across the country and links to up-to-date coverage of the pandemic.” Who recalls the real-time death tracker on display to the world?

I’m no fan of Trump. In fact, I don’t particularly care for the role of politicians in general. Likewise, I’m unimpressed with corporate, mainstream, or legacy media outlets.

Anyone familiar with my blog likely understands my position on the media, if having read Repost: Time, Distance, Shielding, Repost: Revisiting Protective Measures, or Human Fallibility.

Still, if one is to play the game of fact-checking, perhaps consideration of the source and assessment of inherent motives is necessary. While I could examine many media outlets, I’ll focus on CNN for now.

In 2021, Project Veritas released audiovisual evidence reportedly featuring CNN’s Charlie Chester purportedly admitting that the network was allegedly pushing a message of “fear” regarding climate change.

While I remain aware that some people maintain Project Veritas is a “far-right activist group,” whatever that label means these days, one wonders if the dismissive characterization invalidates the apparent core message reported on by the organization.

Why would a network peddle fear to the public? Reader, are you open to asking yourself this question? Are you capable of thinking critically? Or do you instead cling to an irrationally emotive narrative and support Team Network no matter what?

In a Project Veritas captured video encounter, an individual purported to be Chester is heard stating, “Our [CNN] focus was to get Trump out of office, right? Without saying it, that’s what it was, right?” and, “So, our next thing is going to be for climate change awareness.”

The implication is that a subjective narrative, rather than objective data, was being peddled for a particular strategic outcome.

The video continues with the individual saying, “Fear sells,” and, “I think there’s just, like, a COVID fatigue. So, like, whenever a new story comes ups, they’re gonna’ latch on to it. They’ve [CNN] already announced in our office that once the public is, will be open to it, we’re gonna’ start focusing mainly on climate…climate, like, global warming […] climate change awareness.”

The inference here relates to shifting public concern from COVID-19, presumably due to “COVID fatigue” concerning a network that perpetually covered the topic, to matters related to climate chance.

The video continues with the individual stating, “I have a feeling it’s just going to be, like, constantly showing videos of, like, decline in ice and weather warming up and, like, effects it’s having on the economy.”

Think about what stories with which you’ve continuously been bombarded over the past year.

The video goes on with the individual suggesting there would be a “Pandemic-like story that we’ll beat to death, but that one’s got longevity. You know what I mean? It’s not like, is it definitive ending to the pandemic, or you know, like, it’ll taper off to a point that it’s not a problem anymore. Climate thing is gonna’ take years. So, they’ll [CNN] probably be able to milk that for quite a bit.”

If one was in the business of fostering narratives with which people developed perceived existential threats, and a long-term issue such as climate change served as the main source of trepidation, would the logic not follow that such narratives were incentivized by fear?

Premise 1: All news agencies spread fear narratives.

Premise 2: Some news agencies are dishonest.

Conclusion: Some fear narratives are dishonest.

Premise 1: News agencies need money to operate.

Premise 2: Agency X is a news agency.

Conclusion: Agency X needs money to operate.

Premise 1: A dishonest news agency spreads fear narratives in order to thrive.

Premise 2: Agency X is dishonest news agency.

Conclusion: Agency X spreads fear narratives in order to thrive.

The video continues with the individual saying, “Stories, like, right now, we have an inside track right now where two stories are going to be pushed. Climate change is going to be the next COVID thing for CNN. We’re going to hone in on it.”

Even if you discount Project Veritas and consider it a biased dissident actor, what have you observed from major news outlets since 2021? What fear-driven narrative has been hammered virtually to no end?

Currently, there is no shortage of “climate crisis” material on CNN’s website. Of course, what fear-inducing content would be complete without resurrecting Trump several days before he makes a presidential announcement?

Per CNN on November 11, 2022, “During his speech, Biden apologized for the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord under former President Donald Trump, and said he was trying to prove to skeptics that ‘good climate policy is good economic policy.’ He said those steps would drive progress and durable economic growth around the world.”

Joe Biden, the same individual about whom CNN reported in June 2022, “The rating from May of -45 [Economic Confidence Index number] is the public’s most negative view of the economy Gallup has measured since the end of the Great Recession in early 2009.”

Now, we’re to trust an economically challenged president on matters related to climate policy?

CNN is the same network that on November 8, 2022, while covering the midterm elections, hosted a journalist who stated, “And you know, what’s missing from this one, two, three, four, five, top five issues? Democracy… that’s not even in here. It’s not to say that it’s not an issue for people but it’s – it doesn’t even come close.”

This report reminds me of those who don’t think through statements such as, “Democracy itself is on the ballot,” when Barrack Obama said it six years ago and again for the 2022 midterm elections. Think about his nonsensical statement for a moment.

The ability to vote is on the ballot for which to be voted. Seriously, if democracy—the ability to vote—were on a ballot, the existence of a ballot suggests that democracy is already in place.

Likewise, if democracy weren’t of interest to the U.S. public, there would likely be no voting to begin with. By sowing the seeds of fear about an inferred end to democracy, what is gained?

Whether it regards “fiery but mostly peaceful protests,” downplaying political actions which potentially worsened the effects of the COVID-19 response, or maintaining personnel who purportedly viewed the role of journalist as that relating to moral arbiters, how has CNN served as a helpful or healthy source of information?

When it concerns inducing fear narratives related to Trump or the climate, potentially not taking an aggressive stance on current economic strife within the U.S., or inferring that democracy within the U.S. is somehow jeopardized, one wonders if CNN is truly “the most trusted name in news.”

I suspect that with CNN reportedly employing those former members of the U.S. government who were potentially tasked with subverting other nations by use of disinformation, it makes sense how emotively-driven narratives may impact the public at large. I think I’ll pass.


I imagine that with Trump’s announcement CNN can now spend the next couple years fueling the public with narratives which influence unhelpful and unhealthy beliefs. These beliefs can then impact emotions, bodily sensations, and behavior.

Do you want to spend the relatively short amount of time you have left in life consuming biased reporting content? How do you feel (emotionally and within your body) when ingesting material from the media?

You have options in life. You don’t have to purchase the fear being sold to you. There is hope for reduced suffering if you choose helpful cognitive, emotive, and behavioral spending strategies.

Would you like to know more about how to create a healthy metaphorical budget? If able to achieve this mental health spending plan, will you commit to rational spending rather than irrationally emotive purchasing habits?

After all, who among us makes appropriate fiscal decisions when fear drives our behavior? It is with hope that I say you truly don’t have to pad the pockets of fear merchants any longer.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


AFP News Agency. (2016, October 14). Obama warns ‘democracy itself’ is on the ballot (2) [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Cavallier, A. (2022, August 21). Fired Brian Stelter can’t resist a dig at new CNN boss Chris Licht in his final show by saying the network ‘must remain strong’ and celebrates himself for ‘patriotic’ role as media hall monitor. The Daily Mail. Retrieved from

Cillizza, C. (2022, June 1). This is a disastrous economic number for Joe Biden and Democrats. CNN. Retrieved from

CNN. (2003). The most trusted name in news. Retrieved from

Cuomo Prime Time. (2020, May 21). Chris Cuomo teases brother Andrew with giant test swab. CNN. Retrieved from

Dale, D. & LeBlanc, P. (2022, November 16). Fact-checking Trump’s 2024 announcement speech. CNN. Retrieved from

DiGiuseppe, R. A., Doyle, K. A., Dryden, W., & Backx, W. (2013, August). 3 The irrational and rational beliefs – A Practitioner’s Guide to Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (3 edn). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

Enriquez, A. (2021, October 25). Q. How does fair use work for book covers, album covers, and movie posters? Penn State. Retrieved from

Ferré-Sadurní, L. (2022, March 15). Health agency under Cuomo ‘misled the public’ on nursing home deaths. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Ferré-Sadurní, L. & Zaveri, M. (2021, November 11). Sexual harassment claims against Cuomo: What we know so far. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Giella, L. & McNally, G. (2021, January 25). Fact check: Did CNN remove COVID-19 tracker after Joe Biden took office? Newsweek. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, July 6). Disturbing democracy. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 4). Human fallibility. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 10). Labeling. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, August 24). Repost: Revisiting protective measures. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Repost: Time, distance, shielding. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Independent, The. (2022, November 5). Obama warns ‘truth is on the ballot’ in upcoming midterms: ‘The stakes are high’ [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Liptak, K. & Nilsen, E. (2022, November 11). Biden says US is back as a leader on fighting climate change as he urges all nations to step up their ambitions. CNN. Retrieved from

Project Veritas. (2021, April 13). Part 1: CNN director admits network engaged in ‘propaganda’ to remove Trump from presidency [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Project Veritas. (n.d.). Project Veritas [Official website]. Retrieved from

Ropeik, D. (2013, November 15). “exFEARience”, a scary (and brilliant) satire on a scary truth; Fear sells. Big Think. Retrieved from

Shafer, J. (2018, February 6). The spies who came in to the TV studio. Politico. Retrieved from

Transcripts. (2022, November 8). CNN live event/special. CNN. Retrieved from

Whitlock, M [@mattdizwhitlock]. (2020, August 26). “Fiery but mostly peaceful protest” is so absurd that if it were satire you’d think it was lazy and unimaginative [Tweet]. Twitter. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). CNN+. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Project Veritas. Retrieved from

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page