Thursday’s “American Morning” program, while reporting retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr’s connections to the Hillary Clinton campaign, failed to mention one key revelation made by debate moderator Anderson Cooper during the post-debate coverage - that Cooper knew that Kerr was “an activist of some sort.”
Co-host John Roberts not only reported on Kerr’s membership of Clinton’s “LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee” during all 3 hours of “American Morning,” but conducted a live interview of Kerr during the 7 am Eastern hour. Six minutes into the 6 am Eastern, Roberts gave the following brief on the Kerr story.
JOHN ROBERTS: After the debate was over, CNN found out that a man who asked one of the most intense questions of the night had a connection to the Clinton campaign. We didn't know it at the time, but we do know it now, and we want to clear things up for you. He is retired Army brigadier general Keith Kerr, who asked about the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. After the candidates gave their response to his YouTube post, General Kerr, who was in the audience, had this to say.
KEITH KERR, RETIRED ARMY BRIGADIER GENERAL: American men and women in the military are professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians. For 42 years, I wore the uniform -- Army uniform -- on active duty, in the Reserve, and also for the State of California. I revealed I was a gay man after I retired. Today, 'don't ask, don't tell' is destructive to our military policy.
ROBERTS: Well, later CNN found out that General Kerr is in fact a member of Hillary Clinton's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender steering committee. CNN senior vice president and executive producer of the debate David Bohrman says, quote, 'We regret this incident. CNN would not have used the general's question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate.' Prior to the debate, CNN had verified the general's military background, and that he had not contributed any money to any presidential candidate. Following the debate, Kerr told CNN that he has done no work for the Clinton campaign. He says he is a member of the Log Cabin Republicans, and was representing no one other than himself. We're going to talk with General Kerr live a little later on 'American Morning.'
Only a half-hour after the close of the debate, debate moderator Anderson Cooper, responding to Bill Bennett, who had mentioned that he was receiving “a ton” of e-mails stating Kerr was part of the Clinton steering committee, stated that he “had not heard that, and had no knowledge of [that], nor do I think anyone here. And if so, that should have been certainly disclosed, and we would have disclosed that. I do know that he is an activist of some sort, but I had not heard that he's actually working for a campaign.” Roberts did not mention this detail in his 6 am hour brief, nor did he mention it in the subsequent briefs or segments on the Kerr story.
During his live interview with Kerr, which started 17 minutes into the 7 am hour, Roberts asked the retired general about his involvement with the Clinton LGBT steering committee. Kerr denied doing any kind of substantive work with the Clinton campaign. “I have not done any work. Several friends asked me if I would -- allow my name to be listed. And I agreed, because she is such a strong advocate of gay and lesbian rights.” When Roberts asked if “anyone from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, or from the steering committee, or anyone else associated with a political association put you up to the idea of asking this question,” Kerr replied, “Absolutely not. This was a private initiative, on my own.”
Roberts did bring up one thing that hadn’t been previously mentioned on CNN, either in the post-debate coverage or earlier on “American Morning.” “There is also a news release dated November 11, 2007 that lists you as a national co-chair on ‘Veterans and Military Retirees for Hillary Clinton.’ Are you, in fact, a member of that organization?” Kerr’s reply: “Yes, it’s the same one, simply my name on the list.”
Roberts didn’t press Kerr further on that matter, and asked the retired general if he ever thought about disclosing these campaign affiliations. He answered, “No, it never concerned me, because I had not really participated in that,” and then went on to say that he had supported some Republicans, and was registered as an independent in California.
At the bottom of the 8 am Eastern hour, Roberts basically repeated the brief he had given at the beginning of the 6 am Eastern hour, and didn’t mention anything about CNN knowing that Kerr was an “activist of some sort.”