CNN Backtracks on Clinton Releasing Delegates Wednesday

CNN is suddenly backtracking from a report it made early Sunday evening concerning Hillary Clinton releasing her delegates to Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday.

During the 6PM EDT installment of "CNN Newsroom," Rick Sanchez announced the "breaking news" that was later posted at the network's website under the headline "Clinton to Release Her Delegates to Obama."

Yet, just moments ago, that headline was changed to "Clinton Likely to Release Her Delegates to Obama," with alterations inside the opening paragraph.

Let's start with Sanchez's report:

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: When you hear the breaking news music, that means that there is new information to share with you that we have just learned of. And here it is. We at CNN can now confirm that Hillary Clinton will, in fact, release -- that's an important word in this case - release her delegates. She will do so, we understand, on Wednesday. So many had been speculating that there was a possibility that there could some kind of tussle on the floor between so many of the delegates that Hillary Clinton had acquired. And Barack Obama's camp who is trying to make sure that, in fact, the show wasn't stolen by them.

There had been talks about chants, of some folks in Hillary Clinton's camp actually trying to scream down the delegation as they went into the roll call. But, again, the information we're learning right now -- let me tell you, folks, this just came to us moments ago, just as I got ready to go on the air here, our political unit said they had just received this information, making it official.

And also possibly, in consideration of the McCain attack ad that came out today that seems to be trying to drive a rift between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. That, in fact, she will release her delegates. I understand we have -- is Mr. Gergen ready to go here? All right, the first question I guess has to be about this -- how important do you think this decision is?

DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's symbolically very important because there has been this sense that one of the dramas that might play out at this convention is a rift, a tension between the Clintons personally and Barack Obama. And the fact I think that Hillary Clinton is doing this on the eve of the convention, passing this word which says that the delegates can vote for her but she's not asking them to be bound by their pledges, that means some will vote for Barack Obama. It means her numbers are likely go down is a sign of graciousness on her part, a generous gesture, that also sends a signal to her supporters that she wants peace at this convention.

You know, there's still some very hard feelings among some of her activist supporters, a sense that Barack Obama at the end not only didn't consider her seriously but didn't reach out to her, wasn't gracious to her. So I think she is -- this is important. She is reaching out in a symbolically important way.

SANCHEZ: Is she sending a message as well to McCain's people who had put out this ad that maybe some of our viewers may not be familiar with, but essentially seemed to be trying to drive wedge right between Obama and Clinton and if not Hillary Clinton herself, certainly Hillary Clinton supporters?

GERGEN: Well, the McCain campaign has been very aggressive and I think has been moving much more quickly than anyone might have imagined and done it pretty darn well from a political standpoint.

But yes, I do think she's trying to head that off. She's trying to head off all the demonstrators, the sort of hard feelings on the part of her supporters. She's trying to bring people in. It's extremely important of course to remember that going into this convention, polls were showing that only about half of the people who voted for Hillary Clinton said they will vote for Barack Obama at this moment. He needs a far bigger percentage than that to win the election. Everybody knows that.

So for her to take one of these early symbolic steps before the convention even starts, taking and making it clear, there's not going to be a lot of suspense about her speech or Bill Clinton's speech they're both going to be supportive, I think that takes -- it moves the story away from the Clinton-Obama fight to the Obama-Biden ticket. That's what the Obama folks want to get out to the American people. They don't want this to be about a fight between Hillary Clinton and her husband. They want this to be about unity and people coming together and rallying around this new ticket of Obama and Biden.

Not so fast, gentlemen, for moments ago, the story changed a bit at CNN.com (emphasis added):

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton likely will release her delegates to Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic official said Sunday, the eve of the Democratic National Convention.

Yet, that same link used to say something different:

Clinton to release her delegates to Obama - CNN.com

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will release her delegates to Sen. Barack Obama, a Clinton spokesman said Sunday, the eve of the Democratic National Convention.
www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/24/democrats.convention/ - 3 hours ago - Similar pages - Note this

What changed? Did someone from the Clinton campaign get in touch with CNN and ask them to edit this headline and piece?

Maybe more important, does this mean her release of these delegates is still up for discussion pending her meeting with them Wednesday morning?

Stay tuned.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.