Non-Partisan? Not a Chance! The Worst of CNN's Election Bias

As NewsBusters' Tim Graham reported, CNN's Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist bragged that his is the only network "that hasn't picked sides in this election," and that viewers responded to CNN's credibility by making it the most-watched cable news channel on election night.

Of course, this begs the question of why viewers haven't turned to CNN on most other nights but regardless, Feist's claim of non-partisanship doesn't hold water. Indeed, CNN's own Howard Kurtz warned in July of a media double standard favoring President Obama that is apparent "to many people."

Below are some of the worst examples of CNN's liberal bias during this election cycle, beginning after Mitt Romney became the clear Republican challenger to President Obama on May 2, when candidate Newt Gingrich dropped out of the race.

CNN: Messenger for the Obama Campaign?

– CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta – once a candidate to be President Obama's surgeon general – twice trumpeted the benefits of the President's health care bill on CNN.

– CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explained the necessity of ObamaCare to the livelihood of certain people – and warned of their plight if their benefits were to be taken away under a Romney-Ryan administration.

– CNN's Soledad O'Brien found the positive in the final monthly jobs numbers of the President's first term: 14.6 percent underemployment.

– Soledad O'Brien twice stood up for the President's stimulus. She pressed a Republican, "Didn't that, to a large degree, help the economy? You're not going to argue certainly that it didn't." She also quoted a study (used by the Democratic-appointed CBO director) to ask an Obama aide if there should be another stimulus.

– During the DNC, Piers Morgan badgered a Romney aide to agree with the Obama spin on the economy, that the President's team "inherited the mother of all hospital passes, and you don't dispute that, right?"

– While the Obama administration was under fire for its response to the Libya attacks, Piers Morgan stood up for the President's foreign policy and rattled off his achievements. "The reality is bin Laden is dead. He was alive four years ago. Gadhafi was alive four years ago. Mubarak was ruling Egypt four years ago. Many people would argue however difficult the situation is in the Middle East right now, and it is very complicated and very difficult, but actually, yes, America probably is better off knowing that those three are no longer ruling their countries, or in bin Laden's case, al Qaeda."

– A July CNN.com headline, "Romney Trip Begins In Shambles," was so provocative that the Obama campaign featured it prominently in a campaign attack ad.

– In CNN's documentary "Obama Revealed," White House correspondent Jessica Yellin touted President Obama as a "leader driven to make history" and "cool under pressure."

– After ObamaCare was upheld by the Supreme Court, CNN's Christine Romans smacked Republicans for "continuing all this uncertainty" over the law instead of helping their constituents comply with it. This despite CNN's own poll showing a majority wanted the law repealed by Congress.

Hostility Toward Republicans

-- After Mitt Romney had stated that marriage is between one man and one women, CNN's Don Lemon compared his statement to the segregationist beliefs of 1960s Alabama Governor George Wallace.

-- CNN re-aired liberal Paul Krugman's smear that the Ryan budget would "kill people," and showed no outrage or controversy over the statement.

-- In a September 25 interview, CNN's Jim Acosta pulled the race card on Romney. He asked "If you were to somehow beat [Obama], what would you say to the black community to assure them that you would be their president also?" 

-- When Paul Ryan was picked to be Mitt Romney's running mate, CNN welcomed him to the race by calling it "some sort of ticket death wish" and labeling him a "polarizing figure."

Soledad O'Brien Spars With Republicans

Soledad O'Brien, the host of CNN's morning show Starting Point, made headlines during the election season for her testy interviews of politicians. Just about all her notable on-air scuffles happened to be against Republican guests, who took notice and called her out on her bias.

– Romney surrogate John Sununu told O'Brien on May 30 "you should be embarrassed" for "speaking directly from the Obama speaking points".

– Later on in August, Sununu jabbed O'Brien again. "Put an Obama bumper sticker on your forehead when you do this," he told her during a heated interview.

– Romney surrogate Rudy Giuliani asked O'Brien "Am I debating with the President's campaign?"

– RNC chair Reince Priebus personally admonished O'Brien for her liberal double standard.

– Republicans who endured O'Brien's antics vented to Politico about her liberal bias.

Bogus "Fact-Checking"

– CNN's Christine Romans insisted that President Obama "has been cutting taxes like crazy."

– Soledad O'Brien suggested that President Obama should get the credit for states with low unemployment numbers.

– While President Obama gutted welfare reform in an HHS memo, CNN used Democratic talking points and liberal analysis to argue that just wasn't the case.

– However, when the GAO announced that the Obama administration had evaded the law in its welfare reform directive, CNN ignored it.

Obama's Libya Problem: Not Such a Big Deal?

– On October 15, anchor Carol Costello questioned if Libya should even be a campaign issue. Unsurprisingly, both her liberal and conservative guests answered strongly in the affirmative.

– The morning after a bombshell report on what the White House knew just hours after the Libya attacks, both anchors Carol Costello and Ashleigh Banfield spent more time covering Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's remarks on abortion and rape.

– Twice, CNN either ignored stories on the Libya attacks or relegated them in favor of negative coverage for the Romney campaign. Just one week after the attacks, Anderson Cooper led his show with the fallout over Romney's "47 percent" comments while saving for later a report that the U.S. may have had advance warning on the Libya attacks.

– While his colleague Anderson Cooper reported breaking news from Libya on September 28, Piers Morgan made no mention of Libya on his show and instead spent a good portion of his show pounding the Romney campaign.

Obsession With Romney's "Gaffes"; Excuses for Obama's Blunders

Key to the 2012 election narrative was the media's incessant focus on Romney's "gaffes" and other non-stories that distracted from poor economic numbers plaguing President Obama.

– When President Obama made his infamous "You didn't build that" remark about business owners, it took CNN four days just to report it.

– In contrast, the day after Romney's "47 percent" comments were reported, CNN was already hyping it as a "monumental gaffe" and "manna from heaven for the left."

– After Mitt Romney claimed that as the incoming governor of Massachusetts, he requested names of female candidates for his gubernatorial cabinet and received "whole binders full of women," CNN's Jessica Yellin cast it as a sexist, misogynistic blunder. "You know, it made it sound almost like working women are some mail-order product you can order out of colored binders," she snarled on October 17.

– After Mitt Romney quipped during the October 3 presidential debate that he would stop subsidizing PBS even though he liked Big Bird, CNN played up his attack on Big Bird over the next couple of days. On CNN, PBS host LeVar Burton ranted, "I interpreted it as an attack on children." CNN headlines screamed "Save Big Bird!" and "Romney Takes Aim At Big Bird."

– During the media firestorm over a "harrowing" incident from almost 50 years ago – a Mitt Romney teenage prank – Soledad O'Brien doubled down in the name of serious journalism. "Do you think Governor Romney actually owes a bigger apology or needs to say something more about this, or is 'I don't remember and if I did something bad, I'm sorry' enough?" she asked a Romney adviser after the candidate already had apologized.

 – On the same day Romney unveiled his energy plan, CNN chose instead to focus on Bain Capital documents that a CNNMoney.com article deemed "worthless."

– When the British press hounded Mitt Romney for expressing his concerns over the security for the London Olympics, CNN hyped it as a "rocky start" to his overseas trip, even saying it began in "shambles." This despite British CNN host Piers Morgan basically agreeing with Romney's security concerns, and CNN host Fareed Zakaria saying the media were probably overhyping the incident.

– When President Obama received criticism for not meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu while finding time to go on David Letterman's comedy show, Wolf Blitzer offered excuses. "In the scheme of things, who is going to get you more votes?" he argued, while complimenting the President's "very smooth, very confident, very presidential" performance on Letterman.

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