CNN continued its rehabilitation of Eliot Spitzer's political career in leaving his name out of a lengthy list of recent political sex scandals Tuesday. As MediaBistro and my colleague Tom Blumer reported yesterday, the network shied away from disclosing the checkered past of one of its prime-time anchors.
In the wake of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revelations that he fathered a child with a mistress, CNN ran a segment during the 2 p.m. EDT hour covering recent political sex scandals. Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux mentioned six by name and CNN ran old news clips of even more – but failed to disclose that the current host of a CNN prime-time show was once embroiled in an infamous scandal.
CNN anchor Don Lemon grabbed headlines over the weekend with his Twitter announcement that he is gay. On Monday his co-workers provided plenty of time for him on two separate shows to share his story and his own views on the gay-rights issue, and showered him with support. As if that wasn't enough, he asked them in turn to do the same for others "who choose to come out."
"I really appreciate all the support, and I hope you continue to support not only me, but other people who choose to come out," Lemon told afternoon Newsroom host Brooke Baldwin. In the past, Lemon has himself provided a podium for gay rights activists to makes themselves heard, though he claims objectivity on the issue.
CNN anchor Don Lemon has openly acknowledged that he is gay in his book "Transparent," set to be released June 16. He tweeted an article in the Sunday's New York Times about the book late Sunday night, later thanking his followers for their outpouring of support in the wake of his revelation.
"I think it would be great if everybody could be out," he was quoted in the Times interview. "But it's such a personal choice....I do have to say that the more people who come out, the better it is for everyone, certainly for the Tyler Clementis of the world."
The Times also reported that CNN Newsroom and the Joy Behar Show will be hosting Lemon Monday to share his story. "He has been assured of support by CNN," the Times said of his planned appearances.
As NewsBusters has been reporting for months, Obama-loving media are busily depicting every criticism of the Administration as being racially motivated.
On Saturday, Don Lemon brought on a number of guests on "CNN Newsroom" to discuss how the recent controversy surrounding rapper Common's appearance at the White House is all because he's black (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Ron Paul may be considered a "fringe" conservative for his beliefs, but as a U.S. congressman running for a major party presidential ticket he received some bizarre coverage on CNN Friday. Anchor Carol Costello chuckled as the network played a clip of comedian Conan O'Brien mocking Paul's presidential bid, before asking her panel about the 2012 presidential field.
"We couldn't help but play a Conan O'Brien spot to lead into this Ron Paul segment," Costello admitted with a grin during the 10 a.m. EDT news hour Friday.
The clip featured TBS's O'Brien laughing at Paul's lax positions on the legalization of heroin and prostitution. "Yeah, his campaign slogan is 'Let's just see what would happen,'" O'Brien joked.
PBS's Tavis Smiley offered his own half-baked assumptions Friday on the 2012 GOP presidential contenders. The far-left anchor dismissed the GOP field as a bunch of nobodies on the 9 a.m. EDT hour of CNN Newsroom.
"You can't beat somebody with nobody," he quipped when asked what GOP contender poses the biggest threat to President Obama's re-election. "I don't see somebody yet that the president should be all that concerned about, at least to the point of losing sleep."
Smiley also hit Obama for not doing more to help unemployed African-Americans. He assumed the reason Obama is hesitant to do so is his fear of accusations of being "tribal."
On Thursday morning, CNN largely dismissed the controversy over the White House invite of rapper Common, using talking points from the White House and Comedy Central's Daily Show to marginalize conservative critics.
Anchor Carol Costello deflected attention away from the rapper's violent lyrics by quoting a rap of his that has a pro-life message. She quoted none of his violent lyrics, however. Common has composed work in the past praising cop-killer Assata Shakur in "A Song for Assata," and has also ranted "burn a Bush" in rapping about the former president.
Conservatives were outraged over the artist's invite to the White House for an evening of poetry and song. The White House did condemn his violent lyrics "that has been written about" press secretary Jay Carney clarified, but did not renege on Common's invitation.
According to a USA Today analysis, Americans are paying a lower percentage of income tax rates now than in the 1970s-1990s – and CNN's Jack Cafferty used this fact Monday to ask if raising taxes should be the first priority in Congress's deficit reduction plan. He hinted that the Treasury could use the extra revenue from higher taxes.
Then on Tuesday, CNN Anchor Carol Costello continued the talking points on the 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. EDT news hours, asking if it is time "for the GOP to blink" on the tax hike standoff. "[Obama] toppled Osama bin Laden. But can he slay the budget dragon? Not without striking a deal with this guy, House Speaker John Boehner," Costello ominously declared.
If CNN's Roland Martin gives the same answer as a tea party conservative, you know you've asked him a pretty bizarre question. On Monday's 10 a.m. EDT news hour, CNN anchor Carol Costello asked the panel if Obama is now "unbeatable" due to the killing of Osama bin Laden, falling gas prices, and a positive May jobs report.
Of course, the election is over one year away, not all of the possible Republican candidates have officially declared their intentions, and the direction of the economy remains to be seen. But CNN apparently thought it fitting to ask the experts if the 2012 election is all but decided.
Economic growth in the first quarter was an abysmal 1.8 percent. Last week, initial jobless claims increased by 25,000 from the previous week, up to 429,000. The Federal government borrows $188 million an hour, or over $52,000 a second, just to keep up with President Obama's spending demands. Despite almost a trillion dollars for Obama's and the Democratic Congress's stimulus, unemployment remains at 8.8 percent.
Amid all these storm clouds, the Obamamaniacs at CNN have found a silver lining. Anchor T.J. Holmes on CNN Newsroom reported today:
Here is a sign that the economy is getting better, an unexpected sign you didn't think about. Divorce rates in the U.S. are on the rise. It's explained here. In 2000 before the recession, of course, way back before the recession, the divorce rate was 4.0. When hard times started in 2007 the breakup rate dropped to 3.6 percent here. But then last year it fell a bit more, a bit more to 3.5. That was the divorce rate then. So, fewer and fewer people are getting divorced.
In a bizarre wrap-up to the 2 p.m. EDT hour of CNN "Newsroom" Thursday, anchor T.J. Holmes confessed his "eco-sins" to the audience. Commemorating the eve of "Earth Day," Holmes admitted to his "green" faults which included driving an SUV by himself to work daily, blasting the heat in his house during winter, and using "less efficient" incandescent bulbs for lighting.
"These are my eco-sins. I'm confessing them to you because tomorrow is Earth Day," Holmes announced to the audience.
"It often goes ignored by many of us, including me. Not going to ignore it this year. Why? Well, maybe it was an awakening. Maybe I was scolded recently by an environmentalist. Maybe I'm tired of wasting my own money," he rambled, before wishing the audience a happy Earth Day.
CNN contributor John Avlon, labeled an "independent," was all but sounding the death knell for 2012 Republican presidential hopes on CNN Thursday. Avlon took Republican criticism of notable figures such as Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann and spun it to tout that the GOP is in trouble.
"This is the sound of Republicans getting nervous," Avlon ominously sounded. "It really hurts the Republican Party in the long-term."
Anchor Carol Costello opened the segment with a clip of Bush's former senior advisor Karl Rove dismissing Donald Trump as an "inconsequential candidate" over his "embrace of the 'birther' issue." Costello added that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Sarah Palin are under fire from other Republicans and conservatives for some of their own views.
They may not be officially celebrating "Green Week," but CNN was fully in the spirit of the week Wednesday morning. Anchor Carol Costello expressed her dismay that Congress has not acted in the last year to prevent another disaster like the BP oil spill, and seemed to want more safety regulations and laws for oil companies to follow in a disaster.
"Congress doesn't seem to be in charge," Costello lamented, on the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that began the massive oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico.
When CNN correspondent Brianna Keilar reported that House committees have been moving legislation to speed up drilling permits and open up new offshore drilling areas, Costello was troubled.
During an interview of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, CNN anchor Deborah Feyerick not only failed to ask Richards any tough questions about federal funding of the organization, but entirely misquoted the claim of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood services are abortions.
Feyerick began the segment attributing to Kyl a bizarre claim that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's funding goes to abortions. Obviously, that was red meat for Richards who dismantled the faux statement claiming that no federal funding goes to abortions.
The following is what Sen. Kyl said on the Senate floor: "Everybody goes to clinics, to hospitals, to doctors and so on. Some people go to Planned Parenthood. But you don't have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol and your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."Sen. Kyl did not say that 90 percent of funding goes to abortions at Planned Parenthood, but that 90 percent of its services are abortions, another argument entirely.
It was good economic news on CNN's Newsroom this morning. After a brief mention of radiation in Japan, anchor Carol Costello reported:
Brand new numbers out of the Labor Department this morning. It turns out jobless claims plummeted last week. Down 6,000 to 388,000.
I'm not certain what dictionary CNN news readers use, but "plummet" wouldn't seem to be the right verb. Merriam-Webster's online reference defines plummet as "to fall perpendicularly" or "to drop sharply and abruptly." A 1.5 percent reduction in jobless claims quite clearly doesn't meet those definitions.
Moreover, the 6,000 drop figure is "seasonally adjusted" with a Labor Department statistical technique designed to accommodate fluctuations in the job market. DOL's Employment and Training report included the raw data:
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 354,301 in the week ending March 26, a decrease of 156 from the previous week.
On Wednesday's Newsroom, CNN hyped the concerns of psychiatrist Terry Kupers over the imprisonment of Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning. Kupers labeled Manning's months-long solitary confinement "cruel or inhumane treatment, and by international standards, they constitute torture." The guest also claimed that "nobody has been accused of crimes like Bradley Manning's."
Anchor Carol Costello noted in her introduction to her interview of Kupers (which aired 47 minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour) that "Manning, the man accused of giving Wikileaks classified documents, spent most of the last nine months in solitary confinement. One psychiatrist tells CNN that amounted to torture, and it could have done more harm than good." An on-screen graphic trumpeted this charge: "Wikileaks Suspect 'Tortured': Doc: Months of solitary does permanent damage."
On CNN Newsroom this morning, anchor Carol Costello spoke with national correspondent Jason Carroll about the potential for a nuclear disaster in Japan. Carroll noted that "some scientists say the best-case scenario at this point is that the situation in Japan ends up like Three Mile Island. . ." This possibility frightened the anchor:
COSTELLO: It's kind of crazy to me that we're hoping the outcome is like Three Mile Island. It's just so sad and scary.
Why? According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island "led to no deaths or injuries to plant workers or members of the nearby community." The average radiological exposure for 2 million people in the area was about one-sixth of that received from a chest x-ray. Moreover, ". . .comprehensive investigations and assessments by several well‑respected organizations have concluded that in spite of serious damage to the reactor, most of the radiation was contained and that the actual release had negligible effects on the physical health of individuals or the environment."
CNN's Joe Johns hyped a recent Michael Moore speech on Monday's Newsroom as "incredible" and "riveting." Johns highlighted a clip from the left-wing film director, who spoke at a pro-union rally in Madison, Wisconsin, where he claimed that "America is not broke...The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands! It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers...to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich."
Anchor Brooke Baldwin brought on the correspondent for the regular "Political Pop" segment 40 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour, and asked about Moore's March 5, 2011 address in Madison. Johns immediately gushed over the director's words:
BALDWIN: What was he up to in Madison?
JOE JOHNS: Yeah. Well, it was a speech and it was really pretty incredible. Have you seen it by the way?
On Thursday's Newsroom, CNN's Ali Velshi claimed that Rep. Peter King has a "seemingly strange obsession with Islam and Islamists, or whatever you want to call it," given the lead up and the first day of hearings looking into the radicalization of American Muslims. Velshi also bizarrely stated that "I don't quite understand how when you put an -ist at the end of it [Islamism], it changes the subject."
The anchor discussed the hearings with former FBI agent Foria Younis, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen, and former Catholic turned Episcopal priest Rev. Alberto Cutie during the last segment of the 2 pm Eastern hour. Midway through the panel discussion, Velshi turned to Cutie and made his claim about the New York congressman, along with his doubt about the validity of "Islamist" as a term:
CNN's Deborah Feyerick performed a cut-and-paste job on Thursday's Newsroom by partially re-running a biased report from September 2010 on the apparent rise of "Islamophobia" in the United States. Just as before, all but one of Feyerick's sound bites during her report came from those who were worried about the supposed "intensifying hostility and rise in hate speech" against Muslims.
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux introduced the correspondent's report, which ran 40 minutes into the 12 pm Eastern hour, by putting it in the context of Rep. Peter King's hearings into the radicalization of American Muslims: "King says his radicalization of Islam hearing is going to help protect America from a terrorist attack. Well, critics, they call it a witch hunt. One of the concerns is that it is going to cause more Americans to fear and hate Muslims. Our Deborah Feyerick reports Islamophobia is on the rise." A chyron echoed Malveaux's last sentence: "Islamophobia on the Rise."
Hope springs eternal at CNN, at least some of the time. Sure, the massively expensive Obama stimulus was a miserable flop. And extending unemployment benefits worked to extend periods of unemployment, as numerous studies have shown. Government jobs programs have failed for decades.
No matter. According to business correspondent Alison Kosik on CNN Newsroom today, a jump in jobless claims proves more government intervention is necessary:
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we've got a lot of negative news all at once, that's weighing down the markets right now. You know what, pick your poison at this point, we got unemployment claims. They rose more than expected, much more than expected, double what was expected. That's after all the optimism that was created from the previous week's numbers. We're inching back towards the 400,000 mark we've so much been trying to get away from. It really just shows that people still need a lot of help from the government because people are still being laid off.
CNN seemed to fear the worst before Thursday's hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, pressing committee chair Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on his stance toward radical Islam with the shadow of Joseph McCarthy looming in the background.
CNN correspondent Dana Bash asked King, the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, if he was "obsessed" with radical Islam, and what he thought about being compared to Joseph McCarthy. Her exclusive video interview with the congressman was aired multiple times Wednesday on the network.
In a voice-over, Bash reported that the hearing appears "to some, akin to Joseph McCarthy's 1950's communist witch hunt." She then asked a question of the congressman in real-time, this much of which was included in the segment: "Peter King is the modern day Joseph McCarthy?" Bash was probably alluding to the thoughts of King's critics, and was asking him for his reaction.
Mark Potok of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center claimed on Monday's Newsroom on CNN that radical Islam wasn't "our biggest domestic terror threat," that instead, "that pretty clearly comes from the radical right in this country." Anchor Suzanne Malveaux touted Potok as "expert on extremism" from "one of the most highly regarded non-governmental operations that are monitoring hate groups."
Malveaux brought on the SPLC spokesman at the bottom of the 12 noon Eastern hour to discuss the upcoming hearings by the House Homeland Security Committee on the radicalization of American Muslims. The anchor first asked him, "From your study of tracking radical groups, potentially hate groups, what do you think of this hearing? Is al Qaeda radicalizing Muslims? Is that our biggest homegrown terrorism threat right now?"
Potok replied with his "radical right" claim, and went on to criticize the chairman of the House committee, Rep. Peter King:
According to CNN, a relatively minor misstatement by John McCain was worth replaying four times in the span of an hour. Newsroom host Randi Kaye repeatedly focused on a comment by the senator that the iPad and iPhone are "built" in America. (In fact, they are designed in California, but assembled in China.)
A CNN graphic trumpeted, "McCain's Made-in-America-Flub." Kaye breathlessly related, "McCain's office tells CNN the senator is aware of [the fact that the Apple products are built in China.] Talking to political director Paul Steinhauser, the host interrogated, "Paul, this is getting a lot of attention. Is the Senator aware of that or not?"
Steinhauser skeptically responded, "Uh, he says he is aware of it." Teasing the story later in the show, Kaye quizzed viewers, "Listen closely to what Senator John McCain told ABC's This Week and then see if you can figure out what's wrong with what he said."
Apparently, someone who broke his vows and trashed his former church is a worthy guest, in CNN's eyes, for a discussion on the Supreme Court, as on Thursday's Newsroom, anchor Don Lemon turned to "Padre Alberto" Cutie for his take on the Court's recent decision in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church. Cutie took issue with the ruling: "I don't think the First Amendment should protect hatred in the public forum, and I think that's where the law makes its biggest mistake....Nobody has the right in the 21st century to propagate hate."
Lemon brought on the Episcopalian pastor, along with CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin and John Ellsworth of Military Families United, for a panel discussion segment 51 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour. After asking Ellsworth for his response to the Supreme Court ruling, the anchor raised Westboro's extreme beliefs with Cutie: "So Father, listen, do you consider Westboro- most people don't consider it a legitimate church, okay? But is this- aren't they saying the same thing that's reinforced by religion that's being preached from the pulpit in many churches on Sunday?"
CNN's Carol Costello re-aired a biased report she did in 2009 about liberal efforts to push localism to limit the influence of conservative talk radio. During the report, Costello omitted the left-of-center source of a statistic she used, that 91% of talk radio is apparently conservative. She also tilted towards localism by playing three sound bites in favor of the proposal, versus two against it.
The CNN anchor introduced her report, which originally aired on the October 21, 2009 edition of American Morning, by noting that "House Speaker John Boehner told the National Religious Broadcasters Convention he and other Republicans are working on a bill that ensures the Fairness Doctrine will not be revived, ever. Boehner says it's important because the Fairness Doctrine silences ideas and voices."
Costello then gave only two brief indications that her report was over a year old. She stated that "The controversy over the Fairness Doctrine, or as some like to call it, localism, boiled over a few years ago as progressives fought for what they call a fighting chance to have their voices heard." Actually, the Fairness Doctrine and localism are two separate issues, something she actually acknowledged during her original introduction to the report: "It’s unlikely the Fairness Doctrine will return, but there is something else many liberal talkers are fighting for: localism." In addition to this, a graphic flashed on the screen for only seven seconds: "Original Airdate 2009" (see below).
On Monday's Newsroom, CNN's Don Lemon helped film director Qasim Basir promote his new film "Mooz-lum," which he hopes will "clear up some of this ignorance" about Muslims and their religion. Basir, whose last project "aimed at supporting presidential candidate Barack Obama," claimed that "in an average person's mind, who does not know anybody that's Muslim, it's like you see Muslim, you think terrorist."
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux introduced Lemon's segment, which ran 39 minutes into the 12 pm Eastern hour, as part of her network's "What Matters" series, which is a partnership with Essence magazine. Malveaux played up the film's "strong African-American cast and director," and stated that her colleague "sat down with the director Qasim Basir to talk about the movie, and the state of Muslims in America." An on-screen graphic signaled the primary focus of Lemon's interview: "Religion + Intolerance: Don Lemon, Qasim Bair discuss 'Mooz-lum.'"
On Thursday's Newsroom, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux announced that Ian Murphy, the blogger who prank-called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by pretending to be billionaire David Koch, was her network's "Most Intriguing Person of the Day." Murphy is the latest liberal hero to receive this designation from CNN.
Malveaux devoted a half-minute segment 21 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour to the blogger from BuffaloBeast.com, a site co-founded by left-wing Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi:
On Monday's Newsroom, CNN's Martin Savidge teamed up with guests Rachel Sklar and Nick Ragone to oppose a proposed bill in Texas that would allow college students with concealed carry permits to carry handguns on campus. Savidge only had conservative talk show host Ben Ferguson on to voice his support for the bill during the segment, who faced off against the three.
The anchor brought on Sklar, Ragone, and Ferguson 48 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour for a panel discussion on the Texas legislation. He first turned to the former Huffington Post editor: "Rachel...what do you think of the idea of Texas allowing students to carry guns?" Predictably, Sklar ripped the idea:
On Wednesday afternoon, CNN aired a misleading graphic about Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's statements about a proposed license plate honoring a controversial Confederate general from the Civil War. The chyron, which ran during CNN Newsroom and The Situation Room, stated that the "Miss. Gov. won't denounce creation of KKK license plate."
At first glance, one would imagine that the proposed vanity plate has an image of a burning cross or a hooded figure. In reality, the organization behind it, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, aim to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest, who is a controversial figure, even disregarding his early membership in the Klan, because of his involvement in the massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow in Tennessee in 1864. Most people probably know the name because of the Oscar-winning movie Forrest Gump, as the title character was named after the Confederate figure (the movie also has a brief clip of actor Tom Hanks, playing Gen. Forrest, donning his Klan robes).