CNN's Acosta Omits Liberal View of Protesters, Highlights 5th Grader

Jim Acosta, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgCNN's Jim Acosta omitted the left-wing affiliation of pro-ObamaCare protesters during a report on Wednesday's American Morning, referring to them as only "health care advocates and labor groups." Acosta, like his colleague Nancy Cordes at CBS, also highlighted child protester Marcelas Owens, and labeled him a "brave young man."

Kiran Chetry and John Roberts introduced Acosta's report, and the anchors also failed to mention the political bent of the protest, which was organized by the Health Care for America Now coalition (HCAN's members include the AFL-CIO, NAACP, and Planned Parenthood). Chetry remarked that "thousands though rallied in Washington against what they call 'insurance industry bullying.'" Roberts stated that the demonstration was "one for the books."

The correspondent continued the generic language, using his "health care advocates and labor groups" label at the beginning of the report. He twice noted how the target of the protesters, health insurance executives, were meeting in a high-end hotel: "They [the protesters] wanted the health insurance industry to learn one thing at their conference this week- renting out space inside a big luxury hotel doesn't mean you can keep the reform debate from getting really loud....the protesters tried to push and shove their way inside this ritzy hotel- that's where the industry was holding its annual policy conference."

Near the end of the report, Acosta played a clip of his interview of Owens, whom he questioned as the fifth-grader was demonstrating outside the hotel:
ACOSTA (voice-over): Among the demonstrators, 10-year-old Marcelas Owens was protesting for his mother who he says lost a battle with a lung condition that got worse right after she lost her job and her health insurance.

ACOSTA (on-camera): Does any of it make any sense to you?

MARCELAS OWENS, HEALTH CARE REFORM ACTIVIST: Not really, because my mother, she was sick, and she was sick to the point that she should have gotten the medical attention, even if she didn't have health care or not.

ACOSTA (live): Brave young man there

The network has a track record of slanting towards pro-ObamaCare protesters. Back in August 2009, CNN ran a glowing documentary-style segment on another pro-ObamaCare rally organized by the HCAN coalition.

The full transcript of Jim Acosta's report, which aired 41 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of Wednesday's American Morning:

CHETRY: President Obama, as we know, is rolling up his sleeves, hitting the streets, talking up his final push for health care reform. Meantime, thousands though rallied in Washington against what they call 'insurance industry bullying.'

ROBERTS: They were there to make a mass citizens' arrest.

Our Jim Acosta is live in Washington for us this morning. Jim, you're awfully familiar with the health care debate. You've done a lot of coverage.

ACOSTA: Yeah.

ROBERTS: This was one for the books, wasn't it?

ACOSTA: It got a little wild out there, John and Kiran, and the health care advocates and labor groups who staged this rally, they wanted the health insurance industry to learn one thing at their conference this week- renting out space inside a big luxury hotel doesn't mean you can keep the reform debate from getting really loud.

ACOSTA (voice-over): (protesters chanting) The swarms of protesters marching through the streets of Washington in favor of health care reform wanted to do more than just make some noise.

RICHARD KIRSCH, HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICA NOW: Are we going to arrest these corporate criminals?

CROWD: Yes!

KIRSCH: Are we going to send them packing?

CROWD: Yes!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, raise your right hand, and repeat after me-

ACOSTA: The organizers of the rally informally deputized the crowd to make a citizens' arrest of the executives of several major health insurance companies. Then, carrying wild West-style 'wanted' posters, showing the faces of insurance companies' CEOs, the protesters tried to push and shove their way inside this ritzy hotel- that's where the industry was holding its annual policy conference.

ACOSTA (on-camera): Where we're standing right now is where the protesters are actually trying to enter the conference that the insurance industry is holding right here in Washington. Police are standing in the way trying to hold back what is a massive crowd.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Police did grab a few protesters but released them minutes later. The insurance industry spokesman said he's seen these tactics before.

ACOSTA (on-camera): Do you think this is getting out of control when you see 'wanted' posters for insurance companies' CEOs? Isn't that getting out of control?

ROBERT ZIRCHELBACH, SPOKESMAN, AMERICA'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS: You know, we don't pay a lot of attention to all the different things that people are posting on websites and on the blogs, and the different attention. You know, we're focused on what we can do as an industry to make the health care system work better.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Not everybody at the conference was from the industry. Health care expert Mark Pauly said the current reform bill before Congress would actually be better than nothing.

MARK PAULY, WHARTON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, UNIV. OF PENNSYLVANIA: A better attitude is probably to pass something and fix it up later. Although-

ACOSTA (on-camera): It's not the perspective of the folks who are running this conference.

PAULY: I guess not. I mean, it's gotten to the point where it's a dear thing, I think, whether it be better to scrap it and start over. But I'd be willing to work with anything.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Among the demonstrators, 10-year-old Marcelas Owens was protesting for his mother who he says lost a battle with a lung condition that got worse right after she lost her job and her health insurance.

ACOSTA (on-camera): Does any of it make any sense to you?

MARCELAS OWENS, HEALTH CARE REFORM ACTIVIST: Not really, because my mother, she was sick, and she was sick to the point that she should have gotten the medical attention, even if she didn't have health care or not.

ACOSTA (live): Brave young man there, and the insurance industry is well aware that Congress is closing in on a vote on health care. The closing session at the industry's conference this week is on public opinion on reform. John and Kiran, they are well aware that the Congress is closing in on what is a very crucial vote.

CHETRY: All right. Maybe we'll see more protests like that one.

ACOSTA: And we will later today. We're expecting a week of this stuff here in Washington. So, fasten your seat belts.

ROBERTS: All right. Jim, thanks so much for that.

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