CNN Highlights How Democrats Spoke Twice as Long at Health Care Summit

Campbell Brown, CNN Anchor; Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader; & House Speaker Nancy Pelosi | NewsBusters.orgCNN, both on-air and on its website, highlighted how Democratic leaders and President Obama spoke more than twice as long as Republican leaders at Thursday's health care summit. CNN.com's Political Ticker on Thursday noted how Republicans "spoke for just 111 minutes, about 30 percent of the total speaking time." The statistic was also cited on Campbell Brown on Thursday and American Morning on Friday.

The network's Jeff Simon and Charles Riley put up a six-paragraph article on the lopsided figures on CNN.com at 7:12 pm Eastern time: "A CNN analysis of the meeting shows that Democrats - including President Obama, who helmed the meeting - were granted more than twice the amount of speaking time as Republicans. Democrats spoke for a total of 135 minutes while President Obama spoke for 122 minutes, for a total of 257 minutes. Republicans, meanwhile, spoke for just 111 minutes, about 30 percent of the total speaking time."

Campbell Brown included a brief on the summit statistics just a minute into the 8 pm Eastern hour of her program on Thursday: "There was a little grumbling about which side got more time to talk. We actually counted up the number of minutes each party spoke today. Democrats got a total of 135 minutes, not including President Obama, who spoke for 122 minutes. Republicans got just 111."

The following morning, anchor Kiran Chetry moderated a panel discussion between David Corn of the left-wing Mother Jones magazine and Grover Norquist of the conservative organization Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist raised the speaking time issue 33 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour, and Chetry confirmed his assertion that "the Democrats talked for four hours, and the Republicans got two hours:"
Kiran Chetry, CNN Anchor; Grover Norquist, Americans For Tax Reform (top); & David Corn, Mother Jones Magazine (bottom) | NewsBusters.orgCHETRY: Moving forward, what would you say the biggest accomplishment of this summit ended up being?

GROVER NORQUIST: Well, that it happened at all. This is the beginning of a process. Look, the Democrats talked for four hours, and the Republicans got two hours. That can't ever happen again if you're going to have real question time and real debates. This is done at the end of a process where the lobbyists have already written the bill- the bill's written. There's no discussion about what they're doing. It's about a bill that's going to be passed in a couple of weeks. What we need to do is take this beginning and say in the future, starting at the beginning of discussions, let's have real debates, two teams, not three teams with- we have two-on-one, four hours to two hours is not a grown-up approach to things.

CHETRY: Right. Well- well, let's- we did a fact check on this and it is interesting. If you take just the Democratic members themselves, they had 135 minutes. The GOP members themselves, 111 minutes. But then, of course, you throw in the President, and he wasn't shy to say, 'I am the president of the United States so yes, I can talk.' He got 122 minutes. So when you add the Democrats and the President together, yes, they did talk twice as much or get twice as much talk time.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center