Pressed by CNN, Warren Says Obama Had a Competitive Edge

Rick Sanchez, CNN Anchor & Rick Warren, Pastor | NewsBusters.orgOn Sunday night’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, pressed megachurch leader Rick Warren about Obama campaign charges that John McCain was cheating by not being in a "cone of silence" during Obama’s interview.

"Last night, I heard you say that McCain would be in a cone of silence, and then half-hour into the event, I hear our guys here at our political desk announced that McCain has just arrived at the worship center. And I'm thinking, you know -- hey, if he just arrived at the worship center, he couldn't have been in the cone of silence, right?"

After Warren give his initial answer about McCain being in a "Secret Service motorcade," Sanchez pushed two follow-up questions on the matter. In the first, he asked, "Did you think at the time -- when you said that, did you think he was in the cone of silence -- did you think he was in the building?"

Warren admitted in his answer that he had given Obama a bit of an edge with regards to one question on large-scale government aid to orphans:: "...I also told Senator Obama, since there was one question where I was going to ask for a commitment, it was the commitment later about would you allow a PEPFAR type president's emergency plan for orphans, and I thought if I was going to ask them for a public commitment, I ought to let him know in advance. I got to tell Barack Obama that in advance. I did not get to tell John McCain that in advance. It caught him by surprise, I'm sure."

Sanchez didn’t seem to blink at the idea that Obama was favored. He stuck to the script that Obama was wronged and grew very specific in his point with his second follow-up:

SANCHEZ: I mean, just out of fairness. I mean, look, this is CNN. We try to be as exact as we possibly can. I just wanted to get it on the record, and, of course, there's going to be people out there, pastor, who are going to say, well, if he wasn't there, like a half-hour before the event started, what would have stopped him from watching an event that was on all three channels, on the radio, there's Blackberries, there's the Internet. There's everything else. So, I guess you don't know and I don't know whether he had the questions or not.

Despite this hinting at the possibility of McCain cheating, Sanchez concluded after Warren answered the third question, "Well, yes, and let's be fair. We called Senator McCain's office and they said that, no, we did not listen. We did not know. So what you're saying is part of that, we're just going to have to go on the honor system, and we certainly respect that."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the Sanchez and Warren segment, which began 16 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour of Sunday’s Newsroom program:

SANCHEZ: ...Let me ask you about this. Last night, I heard you say that McCain would be in a cone of silence, and then half-hour into the event, I hear our guys here at our political desk announced that McCain has just arrived at the worship center. And I'm thinking, you know -- hey, if he just arrived at the worship center, he couldn't have been in the cone of silence, right?

WARREN: Well, that's true. He was in a cone of -- a Secret Service motorcade. That's exactly for sure.

SANCHEZ: But you said -- I'm going to quote you. I will press you just a little bit on this, because I love this cone of silence thing, and I want to borrow it with my four kids at home, by the way. 'We flipped a coin,' you said, 'and we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence.' That's what you said.

WARREN: Yes.

SANCHEZ: Did you think at the time -- when you said that, did you think he was in the cone of silence -- did you think he was in the building?

WARREN: Actually, yes, I did. There was actually a question I got to Senator Obama in advance that I didn't get to Senator McCain because he wasn't there. I actually wrote down on a piece of paper the very first question, because I wanted them both to be relaxed. I said here's the very first question. I gave it to both of them to ask that. But I also told Senator Obama, since there was one question where I was going to ask for a commitment, it was the commitment later about would you allow a PEPFAR type president's emergency plan for orphans, and I thought if I was going to ask them for a public commitment, I ought to let him know in advance. I got to tell Barack Obama that in advance. I did not get to tell John McCain that in advance. It caught him by surprise, I'm sure.

SANCHEZ: I mean, just out of fairness. I mean, look, this is CNN. We try to be as exact as we possibly can. I just wanted to get it on the record, and, of course, there's going to be people out there, pastor, who are going to say, well, if he wasn't there, like a half-hour before the event started, what would have stopped him from watching an event that was on all three channels, on the radio, there's Blackberries, there's the Internet. There's everything else. So, I guess you don't know and I don't know whether he had the questions or not.

WARREN: You know what -- you know what? In the first place, we asked him. We flat-out asked him. Did you hear any of the debate -- I mean, any of the discussion, and I trust the integrity of both John McCain and Barack Obama that they said they would abide by the rules. They knew the rules way in advance, that I would not give them the questions. I did tell them all of the themes, and went through all of the themes, said here's the kind of question, the themes that I'm going to deal with. I'm going to probably throw out a question about the economy. I'm going to probably throw out a question about climate change, which by the way I never got to, and a number of other issues. But I would not give them the wording of what specifically -- like for instance, it is one thing to say I may ask a question about the courts. It is another question to say, which of the existing Supreme Court would you not appoint.

SANCHEZ: Well, yes, and let's be fair. We called Senator McCain's office and they said that, no, we did not listen. We did not know. So what you're saying is part of that, we're just going to have to go on the honor system, and we certainly respect that --

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center