CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Interrupts Serious Election Discussion for ‘The Boss’

On Monday’s The Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer interrupted a back-and-forth discussion on the presidential campaign between Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and CNS News editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey for a live video feed of rock musician Bruce Springsteen at a Barack Obama campaign rally in Michigan: "I want both of you to stand by because Bruce Springsteen is singing right now at a Barack Obama rally in Michigan, and I can't help but want to listen a little bit. Listen to ‘The Boss.’" Just before this mid-conversation interruption, Jeffrey made a point about how "there's a lot of people in this country who believe the media wants Obama to be elected president, and part of doing that is tearing down Sarah Palin." It’s kind of funny that Blitzer helped Jeffrey prove the first part of his point only seconds after he made it [see video at right].

Earlier in the discussion, at about 50 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer brought up new CNN poll numbers that indicated that the number of people who think Sarah Palin is qualified to be president has dropped since early September 2008. He asked Jeffrey, "Why has it gone down?" Jeffrey then made his first point about the media bias: "I think since Sarah Palin has been nominated, she's taken quite a beating from the liberal press." He then described how he thought those poll numbers didn’t matter, and that "quite frankly, I think if she was at the top of the ticket, they would be doing better."

Blitzer interjected in response to this statement: "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You think Sarah Palin would be doing better than John McCain?" When Jeffrey confirmed that this is what he thought, the CNN anchor then asked Brazile for her take on Jeffrey’s point. She, of course, denied that this was the case: "...[N]o one out there in the liberal press has put words in Sarah Palin's mouth, and it's what comes out of Sarah Palin's mouth that has caused her poll numbers to drop. The American people have had an opportunity to vet Sarah Palin.... They've heard her convention speech, and this is not a race to who can get the far-right out. This is a race to who can get to center -- who can get undecided swing voters."

Jeffrey then stated how he thought Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican convention was "the apogee, so far, in the McCain campaign:"

JEFFREY: It was a great moment, not only because of the arguments she made against Barack Obama, but the argument that she made against the liberal press. I think there's a lot of people in this country who believe the media wants Obama to be elected president, and part of doing that is tearing down Sarah Palin. I think she ought to come right back at them, keep by her guns. I think she's the best asset the McCain campaign has.

Just after this, Blitzer broke in with his desire to listen to Springsteen as Brazile and Jeffrey continued to argue over Palin.

The transcript of the relevant part of the "Strategy Session" discussion from Monday’s The Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER: Terry, this other -- let's put up a couple other numbers up there on the screen from this brand new CNN poll. Is Joe Biden qualified to serve as president? 79% say yes, 19% say no. In early September, 70% said yes, 28% said no. Is Sarah Palin qualified to serve as president? 43% say yes, 56% said no -- 50% in early September thought she was qualified. So that number has gone down over the past month. Why has it gone down?

TERRY JEFFREY: I think since Sarah Palin has been nominated, she's taken quite a beating from the liberal press. But look, I think this -- this polling number means very little for this reason. So Joe Biden gets a great number here -- he gets 79%. But he almost got no votes in the Democratic primary, and there's a lot fewer people that want Barack Obama to be president of the United States than 79%. I think Sarah Palin truly has convinced people she's capable. I don't think that's the problem with the McCain campaign. I think that if they had Sarah Palin out there more -- quite frankly, I think if she was at the top of the ticket, they would be doing better. The more they get --

BLITZER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You think Sarah Palin would be doing better than John McCain?

JEFFREY: Yeah, absolutely. I think John McCain's problem is philosophical -- an inability to connect with the core middle American voter that Sarah Palin, in fact, personifies.

BLITZER: All right. Donna, would she be a more formidable challenger to Barack Obama?

DONNA BRAZILE: Well, first of all Terry, no one out there in the liberal media -- no one out there in the liberal press has put words in Sarah Palin's mouth, and it's what comes out of Sarah Palin's mouth that has caused her poll numbers to drop. The American people have had an opportunity to vet Sarah Palin. They looked at her last week. They've heard her convention speech, and this is not a race to who can get the far-right out. This is a race to who can get to center -- who can get undecided swing voters.

JEFFREY: Wolf --

BRAZILE: It's too late in the campaign, Terry, to start rallying your base. At this point, if you're not going after independents, you've lost, and clearly, the McCain campaign has lost it.

JEFFREY: Wolf, I believe the highest moment, actually -- the apogee, so far, in the McCain campaign was Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican convention. It was a great moment, not only because of the arguments she made against Barack Obama, but the argument that she made against the liberal press. I think there's a lot of people in this country who believe the media wants Obama to be elected president, and part of doing that is tearing down Sarah Palin. I think she ought to come right back at them, keep by her guns. I think she's the best asset the McCain campaign has.

BRAZILE: Well Terry, let her have a press conference. Why don't she face the press? For the conservative press -- I'm sure the conservatives want to know her background. The conservatives are suffering like liberals today. When you see the economy tank -- when you see the stock market plunge, that's not a conservative --

JEFFREY: I tell you what --

(Jeffrey and Brazile cross-talk)

BLITZER: All right -- hold on, guys. Hold on guys. I want you the both of you to stand by. I want both of you to stand by because Bruce Springsteen is singing right now at a Barack Obama rally in Michigan, and I can't help but want to listen a little bit. Listen to 'The Boss.'

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