Anderson Cooper Takes DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz to Task for Misquoting L.A. Times In Fundraising Pitch

There are some lies told by the DNC that even CNN can’t let slide.  Such is the case with a recent DNC fundraising email written by Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz which misquotes the L.A. Times in order to attack Mitt Romney.

The email at question centers around the RNC platform on abortion which has remained the same for the past twelve years in its steadfast support for the protection life.  [See video below.  MP3 audio here.]

  The email written by Ms. Schultz said the following:

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are now, incredibly, saying they don't agree with the policies of the party whose nomination they're about to accept, but guess what? The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the platform was, and I quote, "written at the direction of Romney's campaign."

On his August 23 program, Anderson Cooper called out the Chairwoman for misquoting the L.A. Times, but Ms. Schultz stubbornly refused to admit fault.  Throughout the interview, Cooper corrects Schultz’s lies, pointing out that "Mitt Romney did not design or direct the writing of the Republican Party platform. In particular, the language on abortion is virtually the same as it's been for years." 

In fact, the entire quote from the Times as Cooper pointed out said, "Delegates for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney are voting down substantive changes to the platform language that were written at the direction of Romney's campaign." In other words, Romney delegates on the platform committee are following Romney's wishes in trying to keep the platform from being changed in a more conservative direction and none of the changes Romney proposed mentioned abortion at all.   

Schultz remained steadfast in her denial that she had misquoted the Times, even going so far as to question Governor Romney’s stance that he believes abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest by saying, "I can certainly acknowledge that he says that out loud.  And I think it's very clear that Mitt Romney talks the talk, certainly doesn't walk the walk."  

Throughout the segment, Cooper seemed confused at what Shultz's intentions were:

But just as you don’t like being misquoted, I don’t like being misquoted, I’m sure the L.A. Times doesn’t like being misquoted to back up your political position.  I don’t understand why you would need to do that.

Kudos to Mr. Cooper for doing his job as a journalist by exposing Ms. Schultz's distortion.

 

See relevant transcript below.


CNN

Anderson Cooper 360

08/23/2012

8:03 p.m. EDT

ANDERSON COOPER: Now, "Keeping Them Honest," though, there are truthful ways of making that message and less-than-truthful ways.  Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who you just saw in that clip there, also heads up the Democratic National Committee. I'm going to talk to her in just a moment, but first I just want to show you some of the fund-raising letter that she sent out this week.  It starts off by saying, "Friend, here's the Republican Party's message to women in 2012. No choice. No exceptions." It went on to say, "Their party just voted to embrace Akin's position by including a constitutional ban on all abortions even in cases of rape or incest in their 2012 platform."  Then the DNC chairwoman calls out Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for saying they don't entirely agree with that plank. And here's how she backs it up -- quoting again from the letter -- quote -- "But guess what? 'The Los Angeles Times' reported yesterday that the platform was, and I quote, 'written at the direction of Romney's campaign.'"  Now, those words did appear in "The L.A. Times." And just that little bit of that quote, "written at the direction of Romney's campaign," seems pretty clear, right?   But "Keeping Them Honest," that quote was taken completely out of context. It was ripped in fact out of a sentence. If you put it back into that sentence, here's what it looks like -- quote -- this is from "The L.A. Times." "Delegates for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney are voting down substantive changes to the platform language that were written at the direction of Romney's campaign.”  So the DNC letter takes the last eight words out of that sentence, using it to suggest something that full sentence obviously does not suggest. And "Keeping Them Honest" there's more to the story than just selective editing. There are facts that directly contradict the DNC's claim.  First the abortion language in the 2012 platform, it hardly differs from the 2008 language and the 2004 language in the platform. That language obviously wasn't written by the Romney campaign. Now in addition, our own correspondent Peter Hamby was in the room while the platform was being debated or being drafted. He says Romney's advisers made any number of suggestions, but not on the abortion plank. Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz joins us now.  Congresswoman, in the wake of the comments made by Congressman Akin on abortion, you have been sending out fund-raising appeals that seem or that attempt to link Mitt Romney with Congressman Akin, even Paul Ryan's position on abortion.  You do acknowledge that Mitt Romney supports abortion in the cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother, don't you?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well I think women need to know the dramatic difference between President Obama's position on a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices, as well as the Democratic Party’s position, and Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.  And so Mitt Romney's words are very nice, but the bottom line is that Romney's campaign just directed the Republican Party platform to include the most restrictive constitutional amendment that would say to women that you would have no opportunity to make your own reproductive choices under any circumstances, even in the case of rape or incest.

COOPER: But wait a minute. You're saying his campaign...

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... absolutely silent and makes no exception at all.

COOPER: You're saying his campaign directed the writing of the platform and that's the claim you make in your fund-raising...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's the responsibility of...

COOPER: But it's not.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's the responsibility of a presidential campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But factually speaking, Mitt Romney did not design or direct the writing of the Republican Party platform. In particular, the language on abortion is virtually the same as it's been for years.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Are you saying that he wrote it in 2000 and 2004 and 2008? Because it's the same language. And according to our reporters who were in the room as the platform was being discussed, people could suggest changes and the Romney campaign did suggest changes to a few sections, but they didn't say anything about the abortion language.  And you can fault them, as you did, for not pushing their position, but you can't say they designed the abortion section.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: In fact, Anderson, we definitely can say it, because even in the previous platform, Mitt Romney has embraced previous Republican Party platforms and embraced that language and said he would be delighted to support a constitutional amendment banning all abortion.  He has supported personhood amendments. There's no getting around that Mitt Romney has fully embraced a policy...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Sorry. I don't want to speak over you.  But he has for years -- you have to acknowledge, he has for years publicly said that he supports abortion in the case of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is at stake.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I can certainly acknowledge that he says that out loud.  And I think it's very clear that Mitt Romney talks the talk, certainly doesn't walk the walk. He has fully embraced his party's platform that includes a constitutional amendment banning all forms of abortion, including with no exception for rape or incest.

COOPER:  I guess I don’t understand that why in a fundraising appeal you would, it seems, maybe accidentally, but you completely misquote the L.A. Times.  You make it sound as if they’re saying something that they’re not saying and you’re using that as evidence to back up your position. 

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Anderson, it doesn’t matter anyway you slice it.

COOPER:  It does.  It matters.  I mean if you’re misquoting the L.A. Times to say something they didn’t say.  You’re saying it’s proof of your position and it’s actually not proof of your position.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The reason that we sent out that email and that we will continue to send out emails and reach out to voters is we want them to know the difference between the two parties and the two parties’ candidates on a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices and that Mitt Romney has a very extreme position on that issue. 

 

COOPER:  But just as you don’t like being misquoted, I don’t like being misquoted, I’m sure the L.A. Times doesn’t like being misquoted to back up your political position.  I don’t understand why you would need to do that. 

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Anderson, I’m sorry there’s no getting around that Mitt Romney, when he accepts his party’s nomination for President of the United States next week and they adopt that platform which has no exception for rape or incest in it.  That is Mitt Romney’s platform and you know to suggest anything else is absolutely ludicrous and it would be different than any other previous party convention. 

COOPER: Do you at least acknowledge that the quote that you gave from "The L.A. Times" is completely incorrect?

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, I don't acknowledge that. I know that is what you're saying.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, I can read it to you right now, because what you said is...

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Anderson, what I'm saying is, it doesn't matter.

COOPER: I think what you say does matter. You're quoting "The L.A. Times" and again you have misquoted them and to back up a position.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Anderson, Anderson, the point of the e-mail, and there's no getting around that, and I would think you would agree that there's no way that a presidential candidate, a party's nominee, can separate themselves from that party's platform.

COOPER: He has. (CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There is no exception for rape or incest in the human life amendment. But he hasn't insisted that his own party's platform -- but, no, he hasn't, because he hasn't insisted -- he had an opportunity during the drafting of that platform language to make sure that his own view, if that really is his view, is in that party's platform's language.  And it isn't. He didn't do that. Neither did his campaign team. That's why we sent the e-mail, because I want to make sure women know that.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But you sent the e-mail to raise funds and you're misusing a quote.  And I just think -- I do think accuracy is important and my job is to point out things that are not factually correct. What you said...You said, "Guess what? 'The Los Angeles Times' reported yesterday that the platform was, and I quote, 'written at the direction of Romney's campaign.'"  That sounds very direct, but that's not actually what "The L.A. Times" was saying.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The bottom line message...

COOPER: The bottom line -- what they said is...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: ... "Delegates for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney are voting down substantive changes to the platform language that was written at the direction of Romney's campaign."  They're just not saying they wrote all the language. They're just saying specific language that the Romney campaign wrote, their surrogates are voting down and abortion language was not part of that.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Anderson, the bottom line message of our e- mail is that, A., women need to know the difference between the two parties and the two presidential candidates on a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices and that Mitt Romney can say that he's for an exception for rape or incest.  His party platform doesn't reflect that. He has previously fully embraced a human life amendment with no exception and said he would be delighted to support it and women need to know the difference. And women need to know that Mitt Romney is simply saying one thing, but not insisting that his party's policies as reflected in their platform reflect his views. And we're not going to let him get away with it. This is an important decision.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And they need to be informed.

COOPER: My only point is, and again it's my job on both sides of the aisle to point out things that are inaccurate, is in a fund- raising e-mail to misquote something to serve your argument just doesn't seem in the long term to serve your argument very well.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I understand your point, but I think we -- I mean, the balance of the e-mail makes the case very clearly.  And the main thrust of the information we're trying to convey is that Mitt Romney is disingenuous when it comes to his position on a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices, and he's extreme and has embraced an extreme position. And we women to know that.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.