CNN Graphics Highlight 'Palins & the Fringe,' Obama 'Braving... Attacks'
CNN practiced a more subtle form of bias during two reports in October by using its on-screen graphics. On October 14th's Newsroom program, a graphic accompanying a segment on Sarah and Todd Palin's connections to the Alaskan Independence Party proclaimed “The Palins and the Fringe.” On the other hand, a chyron from a report on Tuesday's Situation Room about Barack Obama making campaign stops in bad weather raved, “Braving Rain & Attacks: Obama in PA. and Virginia.”
The Situation Room led its 4 pm Eastern hour on Tuesday with reports on the day's campaign stops by John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama. Host Wolf Blitzer introduced these reports by highlighting how “[a]ll three began the day in Pennsylvania, braving some pretty nasty weather and some bitter attacks.” Correspondent Dana Bash then detailed the Republican candidates' push in Pennsylvania, including how McCain had to cancel a rally due to rain. The graphic which accompanied Bash's report made no mention of the weather, but focused instead on the McCain campaign's emphasis on the tax issue: “McCain-Palin One-Two Punch: Hitting Obama On Taxes.”
After Bash's report, Blitzer then introduced Jessica Yellin's report on the Obama campaign, and proclaimed that “Barack Obama tried to prove today that he can stand the political heat from his opponents, and the cold and rain out on the campaign trail. In Pennsylvania today, Senator Obama rallied supporters who stood out in the mud and got soaked waiting for him to speak.”
Yellin then gave a preview of Obama's speech in Harrisonburg, Virginia:
JESSICA YELLIN: It really is, Wolf, and Barack Obama is in one of the reddest parts of this one-time red state. This county went for George Bush in 2000 and 2004 by more than 70 percent -- seven-zero, and this particular city by more than 50 percent both years. But today, Barack Obama is here stumping for votes and making John McCain fight even harder in this state.
Now, we talked to a lot of independent voters here in this audience of mostly students who tend to have a conservative bent. But many of them say they just don't know which way to go this time around because of the economy, and they say they're here because they actually keep hearing different things from the two candidates. They don't know what to believe, and they said they wanted to hear it from one of the candidates themselves.
Now, one of the things we're going to hear Barack Obama drive home in his comments just a short time from now is his difference with John McCain on health care reform. He's going to go after John McCain, accusing him of proposing a plan that would provide people with worse health care than they have now. And, well, they might take it a little bit of context, but they're going to quote a comment from one of John McCain's economic advisers, suggesting that people will get better health care from their employers now than under the different proposal John McCain has in the future. So look forward to hearing that from Barack Obama just a short time from now. Wolf?
Note that at the end of her report, Yellin gave the Obama campaign's talking point about McCain's health care proposal without reporting on the McCain campaign response.
Two weeks earlier, during the Newsroom segment on October 14, anchor Rick Sanchez interviewed David Neiwert of the liberal website Salon.com about how Todd Palin was once a member of the Alaskan Independence Party and how Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been “friendly with some of its members.” James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times criticized Sanchez for hinting in one of his questions that the Palins' political views might be similar to that of convicted terrorist Timothy McVeigh. Rainey even mocked the sensationalism of the chyron and how Sanchez treated the story.