CNN Repeats Dishonest Obama Attack on Ryan

Instead of fact-checking President Obama's dishonest attack on Paul Ryan for blocking a farm bill, CNN simply reported it three times on Tuesday morning. Correspondent Brianna Keilar actually repeated the false attack in her own words.

"[T]hey [the House] failed to pass a bill for drought relief, which as you know is huge right now because of all of the farmers, all of the cattle ranchers who are suffering through this terrible drought in the Midwest," Keilar said, ignoring that the House did pass a different drought relief bill and Ryan voted for it.

Her colleagues John Berman and Soledad O'Brien also relayed Obama's attack without a Romney campaign response, on their respective morning shows.

"But he [Obama] didn't pass up the opportunity to make the claim to Iowans that Ryan and his fellow Republicans are to blame for holding up passage of a short-term farm aid bill," reported John Berman during the 5 a.m. hour of Early Start. Soledad O'Brien reported the same thing two hours later on Starting Point.

"You're aiding and abetting his [Obama's] dishonesty," Romney surrogate John Sununu lectured O'Brien. "Paul Ryan and the Republicans did pass a bill to take care of the drought problem, but it's the Democratic Senate that hasn't passed it. And so when you show that clip and you show the President lying through his teeth, then you are aiding and abetting a distortion."

O'Brien replied with the Democratic spin, just as she did the night before. "The Senate would tell you they did not want to pass a bill that they thought was a short-term answer because what they had on the table earlier that Democrats supported was a longer term provision, as you know, sir."    

A transcript of the segments, which aired on August 14, are as follows:

CNN
EARLY START
[5:04 a.m. EDT]

BERMAN: Zoraida, you were talking about the Ryan plan. And President Obama is on the trail doing everything he can to link Mitt Romney to Paul Ryan's controversial House budget plan. The President making an unscheduled stop at the Iowa State Fair yesterday. He turned down the lure of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls for a pork chop and a beer instead. But he didn't pass up the opportunity to make the claim to Iowans that Ryan and his fellow Republicans are to blame for holding up passage of a short-term farm aid bill.

(Video Clip)

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: I am told that Governor Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa in the next few days. He's one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities.

(End Video Clip)

BERMAN: That was the pork chop talking.

(...)

CNN
STARTING POINT
[7:00 a.m. EDT]

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: President Obama is doing everything he can to link Mitt Romney to Paul Ryan's controversial House budget plan. The President making an unscheduled stop at the Iowa State Fair yesterday. He turned down the lure of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls for a pork chop and a beer instead. Didn't pass up the opportunity though, to tell Iowans that Ryan and his fellow Republicans are to blame for holding up passage of a short-term farm aid bill. Listen.

(Video Clip)

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: I am told that Governor Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa in the next few days. He is one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities.

(End Video Clip)

(...)

JOHN SUNUNU: Let me start first of all with the clip you showed of the President. You're aiding and abetting his dishonesty. Paul Ryan and the Republicans did pass a bill to take care of the drought problem, but it's the Democratic Senate that hasn't passed it. And so when you show that clip and you show the President lying through his teeth, then you are aiding and abetting a distortion.

O'BRIEN: The original bill was not passed. Well, no, no, wait. Since you've taken us off track from my Chris Christie question –

(Crosstalk)

SUNUNU: The drought bill was passed. The drought bill was passed.

O'BRIEN: The Senate would tell you they did not want to pass a bill that they thought was a short-term answer because what they had on the table earlier that Democrats supported was a longer term provision, as you know, sir.     

(...)

CNN
NEWSROOM
[9:04 a.m. EDT]

DEBORAH FEYERICK: Yesterday, the President invoked Paul Ryan's name in connection with the failed farm bill. Is this personal?

BRIANNA KEILAR: You know, I would not say this is personal. I would say that this is political. I don't think that there is personal animosity between President Obama and Paul Ryan. But President Obama certainly took the opportunity to make his case and take this hit against a Republican member of the House of Representatives.

When the House left for August recess, they were unable – they failed to pass a bill for drought relief, which as you know is huge right now because of all of the farmers, all of the cattle ranchers who are suffering through this terrible drought in the Midwest. And Ryan is someone who is supposed to help the Romney ticket in the Midwest. President Obama certainly aimed right there, Deb.
 

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