ABC correspondent Claire Shipman lauded President-Elect Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary-Designate Tim Geithner on Tuesday’s Good Morning America: “It might not be immediately obvious, but insiders say the President-Elect and his pick for the top economic spot could have been separated at birth.” She later quoted The Economist’s line about the future top bureaucrat, that both Obama and Geithner “have a hipster, wonky cool about them,” and that both “like to relax by shooting hoops.” Shipman even played up the “hipster” label by stating how “[t]he new Treasury Secretary is also known to surf and skateboard.”
Shipman began her report by describing what Obama admired about Geithner, along with a personal anecdote about the federal bureaucrat: “Well, his smarts and his style -- that's what aides say appeal to Barack Obama, and here’s another clue about his character -- he’s an avid amateur photographer, and friends say that very much explains the way he likes to work. He likes to watch, observe, and then act.” She then gave her “separated at birth” line.
Later, the ABC correspondent played three clips of a close friend of Geithner, Professor Justin Rudelson of Dartmouth, who unsurprisingly spoke well of the Treasury Secretary-designate. Then, as Shipman gave some details about how Geithner “married his college sweetheart” and how “his father was his best man,” sweet piano music played in the background, as you might expect in a gushy biography.
Former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial page editor Chris Satullo, who in a July 1, 2008 editorial suggested that “America doesn't deserve to celebrate its birthday” on Independence Day due to the “waterboarding, the snarling dogs, the theft of sleep” used on some enemy combatants since 9/11, has been hired to become the director of news operations for WHYY, the PBS affiliate in the Philadelphia area.
Inquirer television critic Jonathan Storm, who wrote about Satullo’s hiring on Thursday, mentioned how William J. Marrazzo, WHYY’s president and CEO, complimented the liberal columnist as an “an outstanding journalist with a track record in civic engagement who understands this community like the back of his hand.”
This same “outstanding journalist,” in his November 9, 2008 column in the Inquirer, referred to the ideology of Sarah Palin supporters as “a rump conservatism that is small-town, resentful, anti-intellectual, and lily white” and praised “smarter analysts” such as David Frum, Kathleen Parker, Christopher Buckley and David Brooks, all of whom criticized the Alaska governor and/or supported Obama.
During Tuesday evening’s “No Bias, No Bull” program, Washington Post national political correspondent and CNN contributor Dana Milbank implied, perhaps inadvertently, that the incoming Obama adminstration was like the North Vietnamese advancing on Saigon in 1975. Host Campbell Brown asked Milbank about the “backlog of at least 2,000 pardon applications” to the Bush administration before the president leaves office early next year, and he replied, “Yeah -- it sort of has the feeling of the last helicopter off the embassy roof in Saigon.” [audio available here]
Milibank made the remark during his regular “Political Daily Briefing” feature, which aired at the bottom half of the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Earlier in the segment, the Post correspondent, as well as Brown, commented on Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman keeping his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Brown stated that “despite supporting John McCain, despite saying some pretty nasty things about Barack Obama on the campaign trail, Senator Joe Lieberman is going to keep his coveted chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.” Milbank agreed with this labeling of some of Lieberman’s past statements about Obama in his reply: “It’s amazing -- looks like a full amnesty for Joe Lieberman. He said some awful things about President-Elect Obama, and now he gets -- I don’t think you could even really call it a slap on the wrist there...”
On Tuesday’s Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer referred to a Catholic cardinal’s criticism of Barack Obama’s abortion position as a "scathing rant" and a "diatribe." A CNN graphic also used the "scathing rant" term, and Blitzer later referred to the cardinal’s words as a "blistering rant."
All three of these terms came during Blitzer’s promos for a report by CNN correspondent Brian Todd, which focused on recent comments made by Cardinal James Francis Stafford, who referred to Obama’s pro-abortion stance as "aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic." Just before the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour, Blitzer gave the following promo for the segment: "Also, a scathing rant against Barack Obama from a rather surprising source, a Roman Catholic cardinal -- the story behind his diatribe against the president-elect." Ten minutes later, the CNN anchor gave another promo for Todd’s report, in which he stated that the cardinal unleashed "a blistering rant on the president-elect."
During Friday’s Situation Room, CNN correspondent Richard Quest predicted that the international community would react favorably if Hillary Clinton would become the next Secretary of State: "Absolutely amazed, outstanding reaction -- I’ve little doubt. Remember, Hillary Clinton is an international superstar, known around the world. There would be some reservations, bearing in mind everyone saw the bruising Democratic primary....But no question, the gravitas -- the authority that she would bring would be welcomed around the world." He later made a bizarre analogy about European reaction to the election of Barack Obama: "You’re talking about people who have been like starving men, who have suddenly been given a food [sic] and a meal and it tastes brilliant to them."
On Wednesday’s Newsroom program, a report by CNN correspondent Joe Johns, along with a subsequent interview by anchor Rick Sanchez, raised the implication that anti-illegal immigration rhetoric, particularly from conservatives, might be partially to blame for a spike in so-called hate crimes against Latinos. During a clip in Johns’ report, which was about the recent murder of an immigrant from Ecuador by teenagers, columnist Ruben Navarrette speculated that "[w]hen people go out on the airwaves or in print or at the stump as a politician, and they beat that drum, they shouldn’t be surprised. At the end of the day, many people out there, and particularly young people, who are very impressionable, think, ‘Hey, you know what? This is one group we can do this to.’" At the end of his report, Johns added that "[t]he question that’s already being raised by activist groups in the newspapers is whether anti-immigrant rhetoric has created a climate for this kind of thing."
After the report, Sanchez interviewed Mark Potok of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center, who added that "really, racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda....have made their way out into the larger anti-immigration movement -- the Minutemen groups and so on. And before you know it, they are on talk radio, they are on some cable news talk shows." Strangely, the CNN anchor then went on a bit of a tangent by bringing how Newsweek recently reported that "the Secret Service has now confirmed that threats against Barack Obama spiked when Sarah Palin began impugning his patriotism."
During a segment on Tuesday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez asked South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford if the Republican needed to abandon its social conservative principles in order to be successful again:
"Do you have to be anti-abortion, because that's a very important, big topic in the South..?" Sanchez later asked the Republican governor, as well as talk show host Neal Boortz, "Can you be a fiscal Republican and a social conservative Republican at the same time without making one side mad..?"
Sanchez had both Sanford and Boortz on to discuss the upcoming Republican Governors’ Association meeting in Florida. The CNN anchor first brought up a recent New York Times article, with its accompanying exaggerated map, about conclusions that the Democratic Party might draw from the recent election: "You know, as you look at this map and you start to look at the South, there was some suggestion in that New York Times article, for example, that maybe Democrats are going to get from this that you know what, they can win in the future without the South."
On Friday’s Newsroom program, as CNN awaited Barack Obama’s first press conference as president-elect, correspondent Joe Johns outlined how Rush Limbaugh was apparently "back on the radio breathing fire, taking Obama and his now-named Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to the woodshed." He then played a clip of Limbaugh labeling Emanuel a "good old-fashioned Chicago thug, just like Obama is a good old-fashioned Chicago thug."
Limbaugh actually might not be the first to use the "Chicago thug" label for Obama. The Politico, in an August 27, 2008 article by John F. Harris, cited a "longtime associate" of a certain former Democratic president: "Bill Clinton believes the Democratic nominee, far from practicing a unifying, transformational brand of politics, has the political instincts of ‘a Chicago thug.’" CNN apparently was unaware of this report, since it wasn’t mentioned during the segment.
CNN anchor Campbell Brown introduced a segment on Thursday’s Election Center program by contrasting the "[p]eople all over the world dancing in the streets" over the election of Barack Obama to the "really, really angry" reaction of conservatives, which she then labeled "right-wing rage." A graphic with the same label flashed on-screen, accompanied by a picture of Obama smiling.
During the segment, which aired just after the bottom-half of the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, CNN correspondent Joe Johns played an audio clip of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh as an example of such "rage." Limbaugh, who reacting to the appointment of liberal Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, called Emanuel a "good old-fashioned Chicago thug, just like Obama is a good old-fashioned Chicago thug," and gave an anecdote about how Emanuel used a steak knife to demonstrate his own anger towards Bill Clinton’s enemies after the 1992 election. Johns’ reply after the clip: "So if you were thinking the country is now unified, think again. There are still deep divisions."
[Update, 8:55 pm EST: Below link added for the video of the segment.]
Newsweek’s Evan Thomas and Jon Meacham shared a bizarre Obama love-fest session with Charlie Rose on the PBS host’s program on Wednesday. Meacham stated that he was "very struck watching the stagecraft" of Obama and pointed out how Obama gave his victory speech by himself: "...[H]ave you ever seen a victory speech where there was no one else on stage? No adoring wife, no cute kid -- he is the message." Thomas went one step further in this vein: "There is a slightly creepy cult of personality about all of this." Rose confronted him on his use of this phrase, and he explained that it made him "a little uneasy that he's so singular. He's clearly managing his own spectacle. He knows how to do it. He's a -- I think, a deeply manipulative guy..." Later, all three marveled about how it was "amazing" that Obama "watches us watching him."
Thomas and Meacham appeared during the second segment of Rose’s program on Wednesday night. The host first asked Thomas about how Obama seemed to be "always in charge of this campaign." After giving an anecdote about a meeting in which Obama discussed his vice presidential pick with his advisers, Thomas commented that Obama is very inclusive, yet very self-contained. It's an unusual leadership style."
Staff writers Jessica Garrison, Cara Mia DiMassa, and Nancy Vogel, who wrote the LA Times article, gave a straight-forward outline of the battle over Proposition 8 during the past months, summarizing who had supported and opposed the proposal. On the other hand, the unsigned CNN story devoted only the first three paragraphs to the California proposition, and spent the rest of the article to ballot initiatives in other states.
During a special post-election edition of American Morning on early Wednesday morning, CNN correspondent Carol Costello seemed to be confused as to what California’s proposed Proposition 8 would do and hinted that she was opposed to the effort. The initiative would amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex "marriage." Costello first stumbled as she tried to explain the proposition: "These are the results that we have -- voting yes means you -- you would overturn -- voting yes means there would be a ban on same-sex marriage -- that's 52%. The no votes have 48%." She then continued as to when the results would be certain, and gave a hint as to where she stood on the issue: "We probably won't be able to call that until much later this afternoon, although we do remain hopeful." [audio excerpt here]
Co-anchor John Roberts introduced Costello’s segment, which began 23 minutes into the 4 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, and stated how, besides the presidential race, "from same-sex marriage to abortion, there were some hot-button issues on state ballots across the country, and our Carol Costello has been tracking the results of those." Costello actually focused on the same-sex "marriage" ballot questions during her report and didn’t mention anything of the other issues.
During a roundtable discussion on Monday’s Newsroom program with conservative talk show host Martha Zoller and her left-wing colleague Mike Malloy, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez strangely differentiated between "intellectual" conservatives who are "not so crazy" about Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and social conservatives who "love" her. Sanchez then described Zoller as a "mix" of the two. Later in the segment, Malloy opined that Sarah Palin "brought out the crazy people. That's what the Republican base is. The Republican base are people who don't want the queers to get married. They don't want a woman to have a right to privacy. They want to do away with capital gains taxes, which has nothing whatsoever to do with their life. What Sarah Palin did was bring out the knuckle-draggers, the mouth-breathers..."
On Friday’s American Morning program, CNN correspondent Carol Costello referred to the liberal organization ACORN as merely "a group committed to registering minority voters," and highlighted how it’s "trying to quiet what it calls ‘hysteria,’ coming from conservative circles" who "charge it’s... guilty of voter fraud." The on-screen graphic accompanying her report, which was the last full segment during the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, exclaimed that "ACORN Fight Back: Says Conservatives Creating ‘Hysteria.’"
Despite playing two clips from Republican presidential candidate John McCain and conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who both criticized ACORN, Costello played three clips from two individuals who sympathized with the organization. The first two clips came from former U.S. attorney David Iglesias, who was one of eight U.S. attorneys who were controversially fired by the Justice Department in 2006. He compared the GOP’s focus on the liberal group to the "Red Scare of the 1950s." During the third clip, Michael Waldman, a former speechwriter for President Clinton who now directs the Brennan Center at NYU’s School of Law, emphasized that "voters should know is that when someone registers under a fake name, that doesn’t mean they can vote under a fake name." Costello identified Waldman as merely as an "elections expert," and repeated his talking point twice at the end of her report.
CNN anchor Kiran Chetry referred to John McCain’s warning of Democratic Party rule in both the White House and the Congress if Barack Obama is elected president as "scare tactics" during a preview of a report on Thursday’s American Morning: "Five more days -- the scare tactics continue. Should you be afraid of one party rule?" A clip of McCain naming Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a possible "dangerous threesome" played after Chetry’s line.
During the actual report, correspondent Jim Acosta highlighted such "scare tactics" from both presidential candidates. First, he described how McCain "is telling voters to be afraid, very afraid of Democratic dominance in Washington." He later stated how Obama "has his own boogieman, as in the man who has controlled the White House for the last eight years," meaning President Bush. Note that while Acosta gave examples of both candidates playing the so-called fear card, Chetry’s preview only referred specifically to McCain.
CNN’s "Magic Wall" map on Thursday’s Situation Room displayed an error regarding the results of the 2000 presidential election. Instead of indicating that President George W. Bush won in the state of Florida by shading it red, the map showed that Florida was a blue state. Of course, the Sunshine State was the center of a furious battle over recounting votes, and in the certified count, only 537 votes separated Bush from Democrat Al Gore.
Correspondent John King, the Magic Wall’s "maestro" according The Economist, used the touch screen map just after the bottom of the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program to demonstrate a new feature of his map, which displays the locations of CNN’s "Best Political Team on Television" throughout the country as they follow the presidential campaign. While King didn’t directly state that the map he was working with was for the 2000 presidential election results, a caption in the upper left-hand corner read "United States of America: General Election," and in the upper right hand corner, there were graphics that had Gore’s name in blue and Bush’s in red.
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.”
On Tuesday's Election Center program, CNN anchor Campbell Brown criticized Barack Obama's decision earlier this year to break his November 2007 pledge to accept public financing of his presidential campaign: “For this last week, Senator Obama will be rolling in dough. His commercials, his get-out-the-vote effort, will, as the pundits have said, dwarf the McCain campaign's final push. But, in fairness, you have to admit, he is getting there, in part, on a broken promise.”
Brown's attack, which she made in her regular “Cutting Through the Bull” commentary at the beginning of her program, came 24 hours before Obama is scheduled to run a 30-minute infomercial on five television networks. She began her commentary by describing how “Barack Obama is loaded, way more loaded than any presidential candidate has ever been before at this stage in the campaign. Just to throw a number out, he's raised well over $600 million since the start of the campaign, close to what George Bush and John Kerry raised combined in 2004.”
CNN anchor Campbell Brown criticized the sexism of the "diva" comment about Sarah Palin from a supposed anonymous McCain campaign adviser on Monday’s Election Center program, despite how it was her own network that highlighted this remark. After describing how "it was big news when this story broke over the weekend -- a shocking quote from an adviser to John McCain calling Sarah Palin a ‘diva.’ (correspondents Dana Bash, Peter Hamby, and John King first reported on the anonymous "diva" remark in an October 25 report on CNN.com), Brown decried how it is "a sexist slight, a term that is only applied to women, almost always in a derogatory way."
At the end of her commentary, which led the Election Center program, the CNN anchor attacked the supposed hypocrisy of the McCain campaign and criticized the unnamed McCain campaign official for using the "diva" term: "So, now, for the McCain campaign to be attacking its own candidate in the most overtly sexist way, calling her a ‘diva,’ -- it is beyond ridiculous. Whoever this anonymous adviser is should be ashamed, or, at the very least, have the courage to say it on the record." Since Brown didn’t say anything critical about how her network ran with the comment during her commentary, despite its anonymous nature, one would guess that she isn’t ashamed of CNN’s action in this matter. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?
On Monday’s Newsroom program, CNN ran a report from its San Francisco affiliate which sympathized with parents in California who are upset that video of their first grade children, whom they allowed to go on a field trip to their lesbian teacher’s civil marriage, is being used in an anti-gay marriage political ad in the state. The report, by KGO/ABC7 reporter Tomas Roman, also failed to identify California Assemblyman Mark Leno as an openly gay man. The Democratic politician blasted the conservative sponsors of the ad, accusing them of "abuse [against] young children" [see video at right; audio available here].
During the report, the KGO correspondent also played two clips from William May of the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign, who defended the use of the video of the children in the ad, compared to the five total clips from those who object to its use.
CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin appeared on Thursday’s Newsroom and Situation Room programs to explain how "in no way did I intend to misquote" from a recent article by National Review’s Byron York: "This exchange aired just once in the 6 pm hour, and as soon as the National Review brought it to our attention at 7:05, we immediately realized the context could be misconstrued. We cut that portion of the interview. It never aired again." Griffin also mentioned how he had "since called Byron York and his editor Rich Lowry, explained what happened, and told them both that I regret any harm this may have brought."
In an interview excerpt aired on Tuesday's Situation Room (NB post with video), Griffin had told Sarah Palin: “The National Review had a story saying that, you know, 'I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above.'” In fact, York was mocking media coverage of Palin: “Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for Vice President, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward or -- well, all of the above."
Griffin first appeared seven minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour of Newsroom. Anchor Kyra Phillips asked the correspondent about the criticism he had received over the misquotation. He played a clip of the question, and explained the impression he had of the interview overall. He then played the initial exchange he had with Governor Palin over the "botched" quote, and most of her answer.
CNN anchor Campbell Brown led her Election Center program on Wednesday with a critique of the “double standard” concerning the recent attention on the $150,000 that the Republican National Committee spent on vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin: “My issue: there is an incredible double standard here, and we're ignoring a very simple reality. Women are judged based on their appearance far, far more than men. This is a statement of fact. There has been plenty of talk and plenty written about Sarah Palin’s jackets, her hair, her looks....Compare that to the attention given to Barack Obama’s $1,500 suits or John McCain’s $520 Ferragamo shoes. There is no comparison.”
Brown spent more than 2 minutes on the matter, in which she related her own experience of how women “get scrutinized based on appearance” much more than men do: “...I speak from experience here. When I wear a bad outfit on the air, I get viewer e-mail complaining about it, a lot of e-mail, seriously. When Wolf Blitzer wears a not-so-great tie, how much e-mail do you think he gets? My point is, for women, unfortunately, appearance is part of the job. If Wolf or Anderson shows up on the air without makeup, do you think you would even notice? I show up on the air without makeup, trust me, you’ll notice.” The CNN anchor then defended the RNC’s efforts to help Palin appear visually good: “All women in the public eye deal with this issue, and it’s for this reason that I think the RNC should help Palin pay for hair, clothes, and makeup. It is part of the job.” She concluded her commentary by labeling the attention on Palin’s clothing a “peripheral issue” in the presidential campaign.
Regular CNN commentator Jack Cafferty may be "on the mend" after a three-week break for a "unanticipated encounter with a surgeon’s scalpel," as he put it, but he certainly hasn’t recovered from his Palin Derangement Syndrome. He launched a new attack on the Alaska governor on Wednesday’s Situation Room. This time, Cafferty returned to the issue of Trooper/Taser-gate and brought up two additional issues that came up this week -- how the RNC spent $150,000 on Palin for new clothing, make-up, and hair care for Palin, and how she used taxpayer’s money to pay for her children to travel with her to official functions. He then came to the following conclusion about the Republican vice-presidential candidate: "How do you present yourself as any kind of candidate of reform when the practices you employ put you in the very same category as every other two-bit, sleazy, opportunistic politician that has come before you?"
Cafferty then asked as his hourly question, "Should Sarah Palin reimburse Alaska taxpayers for her children’s travel and entertainment expenses?" Of course, when Cafferty read some of the viewer responses to this question, he lined up nothing but anti-Palin comments.
CNN contributor Roland Martin’s Wednesday column on CNN.com bluntly accused Republicans of exhibiting "fear and desperation" in their criticism of Barack Obama: "McCain's campaign is no longer about issues. He and his supporters want to bring up anything and everything to derail Obama, and nothing is sticking, so they just keep returning to their old bag of tricks." This "bag" apparently includes bringing up issues like Obama’s 20-year relationship with left-wing firebrand Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the socialist labeling of the Democratic presidential candidate, and his associations with terrorist Bill Ayers and ACORN.
Martin first labeled McCain an "old fighter," but not as a compliment: "Watching Sen. John McCain and top Republicans swing wildly in their attempts to slam Sen. Barack Obama, with less than two weeks ago to go before Election Day, is like watching an old fighter -- clearly out of gas, his legs turned to rubber, and all he can do is grab, hold, punch behind the back, just anything to try to win." He then used his "old bag of tricks" line.
During an interview with Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Tuesday’s Situation Room, CNN’s Drew Griffin ripped a phrase out of a recent article by National Review’s Byron York which criticized the media’s coverage of Palin and characterized it as an attack on the Alaska governor. Griffin pointed out how "[t]he press has been pretty hard on you. The Democrats have been pretty hard on you, but also some conservatives have been pretty hard on you as well. The National Review had a story saying that, you know, ‘I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above.’" In the original article, which was originally only in the print version of National Review, York used the "incompetent" phrase to attack the media: "Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward or - well, all of the above."
CNN contributor Roland Martin used an unoriginal line to attack Rush Limbaugh on Monday’s Election Center program. Host Campbell Brown wanted Martin, a Barack Obama supporter, to comment on something the talk radio host had said about Colin Powell’s endorsement of the Democratic presidential candidate: "Rush Limbaugh said today, this is about race. That's all it's about." Martin’s response: "I think I will quote Al Franken when talking about Rush Limbaugh -- is a stupid, fat idiot."
Martin made the comment during a panel discussion with Brown, CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, and Kevin Madden, the former spokesman for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, in which the four of them discussed the Powell endorsement of Obama. After his cliched attack, the CNN contributor accused Limbaugh, as well as Pat Buchanan and George Will, of disregarding Powell’s record and simplifying his endorsement to a matter of skin color: "Colin Powell gave one of the most thoughtful, meticulous endorsements of any candidate, and laid it all out very methodically, and it is an insult for people like Rush Limbaugh and Buchanan and Will and others to somehow say, oh, it's only because he's black."
CNN correspondent Carol Costello’s report on Monday’s American Morning program unquestioningly repeated a claim by Democrats in Michigan that Republicans in the state would disqualify voters affected by home foreclosures. She began her report by phrasing the accusation this way: "Lost your house to foreclosure? Democrats in Macomb County, Michigan, say beware -- Republicans, they say, want to make sure you lose your vote, too."
Costello’s report, which began 40 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, is the first in a week-long series of reports by the network called "Count the Vote," which aims at "investigating potential problems in key battleground states" with the voting process, as co-host Kiran Chetry put it in her introduction to Costello’s report. Both Chetry and Costello iterated the Michigan Democrats’ contention in three slightly different ways at the beginning of the report. It’s based on a supposed quote by Macomb County, Michigan Republican chairman James Carabelli in the Michigan Messenger, a liberal website (Costello actually described it as such).
On Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen followed the liberal talking points about how Joe the Plumber’s real first name is Samuel and how he doesn’t have a plumbing license. When host Anderson Cooper asked if John McCain benefitted from the attention on the Ohio laborer, Gergen replied, "Well, I think he was for a while. But I -- when we found out he was Sam the non-plumber, it changed a little bit." Gergen went on to treat Joe Wurzelbacher, who works with plumbing, as if he worked as a McCain campaign surrogate: "...I don't understand why the McCain team didn't vet the guy before they made such a -- you know, made such a focus on him on national television. I can guarantee you that the George W. Bush campaign, you know, which ran a highly disciplined campaign, would have vetted and would have known before he went out there about... his personal status."
On CNN’s post-debate coverage on Wednesday night, special correspondent Soledad O’Brien misinterpreted the dial-tester reaction from a focus group of 30 Ohioans. When she played a clip of the dial test line graph flat-lining then rising up again slightly when John McCain spoke about the issue of Bill Ayers during the presidential debate, she overemphasized the results: “You see the dive. I mean, literally, it goes off the cliff. You can watch that right on the screen” [see video at right].
Just before this, she played the positive reaction of the focus group to McCain’s “I am not President Bush” remark: “Take a look at the squiggles -- immediately, when he said you should have run four years ago, those -- those squiggles go up sharply because really, people here found that to really resonate with them.”
[See update below for how Toobin did the same thing later in the evening.]
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin brushed aside the issues of Barack Obama’s affiliation with left-wing terrorist William Ayers and the liberal group ACORN during a roundtable discussion on Wednesday’s Situation Room program: "Who cares about ACORN? Who cares about Bill Ayers? I mean, I just don't get this. What is the point of raising that?" When CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger countered by trying to show the relevance of these affiliations, that "he has given lots of different stories on Ayers, and that his affiliation with ACORN, as a group that they think now has been discredited," Toobin went further: "But he doesn't have an affiliation with ACORN." When both Borger and host Wolf Blitzer both affirmed that he did have ties to the organization, Toobin backtracked: "...I stand corrected on that, but I just don't see why that is going to move voters?"
Toobin must not be watching his own network, for CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin outlined on October 6 how "the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said," including how the two worked together on the board of the Annenberg Challenge Project and the Woods Foundation, and how Obama’s political career began during a meeting at Ayers’s house. While the network omitted ACORN’s name from an October 9 news brief about a raid on the organization’s Las Vegas office, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story about the raid acknowledged how ACORN "has a liberal political agenda and ties to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama."