CNN Sets Up Dem Strategist to Gush Over Cain Accuser Who Worked for Her

For information on one of Herman Cain's accusers, CNN interviewed her former boss on Wednesday – who just also happened to be a former Clinton advisor and a  Democratic strategist at present. Not surprisingly, interviewee Maria Cardona gave the accuser, Karen Kraushaar, a giant thumbs-up and told CNN that Kraushaar had referred to her old boss Herman Cain as a "monster."

Anchor Kyra Phillips never mentioned that Cardona was a Democratic strategist or a former Clinton advisor, and failed to question her if she had any underlying political motive in the case. CNN flashed the title of "Democratic Strategist" under Cardona's name for nine seconds during the interview which lasted over four minutes.

Cardona herself briefly mentioned that she worked with Cain's accuser, Karen Kraushaar, at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) during Bill Clinton's presidency.

Phillips tossed Cardona softballs like "tell us about your experience with her, her work ethic, her credibility factor," and asked her to clarify that Kraushaar's other complaint filed didn't have to do with sexual harassment – just so viewers wouldn't get the wrong idea about her.

It also helps to have CNN asking your former boss – who is giving you rave reviews – to defend your credibility as someone who is "strong-willed and stands up for what is right".

"And can you explain to us for those saying, okay, is this woman just someone who filed complaints in moments of difficulty, or is this just somebody that really is strong-willed and stands up for what is right?" Phillips teed up Cardona.

Phillips capped the interview by telling Cardona that "you're one of our own," without having once said to the audience that while a CNN contributor, Cardona is also a Democratic strategist, and is sometimes hosted by CNN specifically to provide the Democratic point-of-view in a panel.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 9 at 10:21 a.m. EST, is as follows:

[10:21]

KYRA PHILLIPS: Well she had hoped to stay anonymous, but Karen Kraushaar's name and face are out there now. The second woman to publicly accuse Herman Cain of sexual harassment, and of course everybody wants to know more about her, what kind of person she is. Well it just so happens that one of our own, CNN contributor Maria Cardona, hired her right after Kraushaar worked for Herman Cain. Maria, tell us about your experience with her, her work ethic, her credibility factor.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN contributor: Sure Kyra, thank you. So when I hired Karen, I was communications director at the INS at the end of the Clinton administration, the last two years. At the time, we were going through the firestorm that was Elian Gonzalez, so everyone on our team obviously was going through a very tense time. I needed somebody that I could send down to Miami to be the public face of INS to talk about this difficult situation, and out of everybody on my team I chose Karen. Because from the very moment that she walked into my office as a new employee, she exhibited nothing but the utmost of professionalism, she is a classy woman, she's a private woman, she is incredibly hard-working, she was the consummate team player. And so to me, all of those factors say that this was the woman that I needed to send down to Miami under these very difficult circumstances. As a former employer of Karen's, I have to say to me her credibility is beyond reproach.

PHILLIPS: And she said to you, thank you so much for hiring me away from my other job. But at that point she didn't say anything to you about Herman Cain, correct? Until this came out.

CARDONA: That's exactly right, Kyra. At the time she always said how grateful she was for me hiring her at INS. She said Maria, you didn't really know me from Adam and you took a chance on me. And she always talked about how grateful she was to be working for a woman, and to be working for – the commissioner at the time at INS was a woman, the deputy commissioner was a woman, the attorney general as you remember, Janet Reno, was a woman – and she always talked about how amazing it was to be working with all these incredibly strong women, and how great that made her feel. So when I found out that she was one of the accusers, and I reached out to her and we have been talking ever since, she has since told me Maria, now you know why I was so incredibly grateful to you for hiring me and for showing me what a real – a safe working environment could be like. And she said to me you saved me from that monster, and clearly she was talking about the horrendous experience that she went through at the National Restaurant Association with Mr. Cain.

PHILLIPS: And you clarified this this morning, but for our viewers just tuning in, there's this other complaint that apparently she filed, but it didn't have anything to do with sexual harassment. Could you just clarify what you know about that? And can you explain to us for those saying, okay, is this woman just someone who filed complaints in moments of difficulty, or is this just somebody that really is strong-willed and stands up for what is right?

CARDONA: I think you hit the nail on the head with the latter, because I have since talked to her about that misunderstanding, and what happened was when I was at the INS, when I was director of communications, there was an employee that worked in our office who had chronic back problems. And because she was such a good employee, I let her work from home. When I left, my understanding is that Karen unfortunately got into a pretty bad car wreck and had some issues, and she asked for the same courtesy and the same privilege that I had previously extended to one of my employees. I had since then left. My understanding is that that privilege was not granted to her, so she filed a complaint. But she got pushed back and then it was dropped. So that is the extent in terms of that specific complaint. And yes, Karen is not somebody that files frivolous complaints. She is a strong-willed woman, and she knows what a professional environment needs to be like for a woman, and she will stand up for herself. And that is why I am now standing up for her just to tell as much as I can about Karen the woman, Karen the employee, in terms of her credibility which in my eyes is again, beyond reproach.

PHILLIPS: Maria Cardona, and you're one of our own. Thank you so much.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014