CNN Eulogizes 'Titan' Barney Frank

Reporting on Monday morning that Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was not seeking re-election, CNN's political team whitewashed his controversial tenure in office with some fond words like "titan," "larger-than-life," and "teacher at heart."

CNN's Joe Johns lauded Frank's skills as a teacher -- especially as the first openly-gay congressman. "He's taught this country so much about the gay community in the United States and what it means to be an openly gay member of Congress. A leader, in fact, on Capitol Hill," Johns gushed.

Political editor Mark Preston praised Frank as a "titan" of financial sector matters in Congress while saying nothing of the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under his oversight. While noting that Frank was tough to deal with, Preston added that he was "one of the best debaters in Congress" and "always the smartest person in the room."

During the 11 a.m. hour, anchor Suzanne Malveaux termed the congressman as a "larger-than-life political figure." Correspondent Joe Johns touted Frank's intelligence, saying he was "known by many many people as just about one of the smartest members of Congress on Capitol Hill."

At the end of the 12 p.m. hour, Johns continued his acclaimation of Frank as a "teacher at heart" who influenced people of both parties on Capitol Hill. "And the fact is that whenever you talk to Barney Frank, when you walk away, he may insult you, he may anger – he may make you feel proud depending on your political inclination, but he will leave you with the sense that you learned something from what he said," Johns hyped.

At the end of the 10 a.m. hour, Mark Preston did acknowledge that Frank was reprimanded by the House in 1990, but added some silver lining by framing the liberal Dodd-Frank regulations as a possible comeback of sorts for the congressman.

"You know, back in 1990 he was reprimanded by the House over allegations over his association with a male prostitute," Preston vaguely described Frank's charges. The congressman's real scandal was allegations of his knowledge of a prostitution service being run out of his Capitol Hill apartment.

"But just in the past couple of years, Barney Frank might have made the comeback, some would say, to push all those bad things aside, when he was the co-author of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill," Preston claimed.

The liberal bill also received commendation from Joe Johns, who called it "the kind of bill that people have talked about again and again and again, even the presidential candidates they've talked about."

CNN also made sure to report the influence Frank had in the progress of gay rights. Preston noted that the openly-gay Frank used his orientation as a "badge of honor," and "did a lot, actually, for the gay community."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on November 28 at 10:07 a.m. EST, is as follows:

MARK PRESTON, CNN senior political editor: But the fact of the matter is, he has been a titan when it comes to financial service issues on Capitol Hill. He was the chairman of the Financial Services Committee when Democrats held the majority, and he still has been a very strong voice for Democratic ideals and what have you on Capitol Hill. But he did have controversy as well. He was considered to be one of the best debaters in Congress. You did not want to get on the floor with him, Kyra, and get into an argument with him.

(...)

PRESTON: But I have to tell you, Barney Frank was one of these people who was always the smartest person in the room. And that was one of his strengths on Capitol Hill....Now what's interesting about Barney Frank is that back in 1987 he came out and he acknowledged that he was gay, which was a big deal at the time. And he went on to wear this as a badge of honor on his sleeve, and probably helped many other folks who were in the closet and didn't want to talk about their sexuality to come out. So Barney Frank has done a lot to promote Democratic ideals, but he also did a lot, actually, for the gay community, Kyra.

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