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.”
Like much of the mainstream media, CNN anchor Jack Cafferty has set aside any pretense of objectivity in this year's presidential election. On today's Situation Room he used a "Cafferty File" segment, in which a question is posed to viewers for their response, to attack GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. He prefaced the question:
But McCain chose Sarah Palin, who immediately became a national joke to everybody, except the conservative base of the Republican Party. Even some Republicans are convinced the Palin selection showed a total lack of judgment on McCain's part.
Oh, what about Florida Governor Charlie Crist? Would winning Florida help John McCain? You get the idea here.
Here's the question: Was it a mistake for John McCain to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate?
Last Thursday, his question for viewers was if they think John McCain has run an honorable campaign. Some of his background "information":
In fact, in the last few weeks, John McCain has become downright nasty.
Bozell acknowledges network taking responsibility for misleading viewers to believe conservatives at odds with Gov. Palin
Spreading the Word
As we reported on Tuesday, CNN's Drew Griffin completely mischaracterized the nature of a "quote" from National Review's Byron York during his interview with Alaskan Republican Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
CNN has responded to the Media Research Center's call for CNN to retract the accusation that wrongly accused National Review's Byron York of calling Gov. Sarah Palin "incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt or all of the above," and have taken full responsibility for the mischaracterization.
Yesterday, the cable network addressed the mistake on both Newsroom and The Situation Room, explaining the circumstances of the badly-worded representation of the statement and clarifying reporter Drew Griffin's intention, which was not to deceive his audience that a well-respected conservative publication was putting itself at odds with Gov. Palin.
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.
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.
Spreading the WordOn yesterday's Situation Room, CNN's Drew Griffin completely mischaracterized the nature of a "quote" from National Review's Byron York during his interview with Alaskan Republican Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Griffin said to Gov. Palin: "Governor, you've been mocked in the press, the 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.'"
This is a complete distortion, a falsehood. The full quote from the National Review's Byron York shows he was in fact dressing down the media, NOT Gov. 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 - or, well, all of the above."
MRC President and Newsbusters.org Publisher L. Brent Bozell, III issued the following statement in response:
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."
[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."
The liberal news media has subjected Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to intense scrutiny concerning her overall pro-life view on abortion, among other issues. On the other hand, they have been all but silent on Barack Obama’s intensely liberal record on abortion issue, particularly his support of partial-birth abortion and his opposition to legislation that would have protected infant abortion survivors from dying of neglect.
In MRC’s October 9 Media Reality Check, "Media Silence on Abortion Aids Radical Obama," Rich Noyes and I outlined how the news media have been out to lunch on examining Barack Obama’s radical pro-abortion stance during the Democratic campaign for the presidential nomination. The report found that the network evening newscasts "barely mentioned Obama’s pro-abortion stance during the primaries — from the launch of his candidacy in January 2007 through the end of the primaries in June 2008, just six out of 1,289 network evening news stories about Obama (0.46%) mentioned his position on abortion; none discussed it in any detail." The media as a whole also punted on Obama’s August 16, 2008 attack on pro-lifers, who in his view, were "lying" about his record as an Illinois state senator of opposing legislation, identical to a federal law, which would have protected infant survivors of abortion. Only a day later, Obama’s own campaign backtracked and admitted that he had indeed voted against this legislation.
On Monday’s The Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer interrupted a back-and-forth discussion on the presidential campaign between Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and CNS News editor-in-chief Terry Jeffrey for a live video feed of rock musician Bruce Springsteen at a Barack Obama campaign rally in Michigan: "I want both of you to stand by because Bruce Springsteen is singing right now at a Barack Obama rally in Michigan, and I can't help but want to listen a little bit. Listen to ‘The Boss.’" Just before this mid-conversation interruption, Jeffrey made a point about how "there's a lot of people in this country who believe the media wants Obama to be elected president, and part of doing that is tearing down Sarah Palin." It’s kind of funny that Blitzer helped Jeffrey prove the first part of his point only seconds after he made it [see video at right].
Earlier in the discussion, at about 50 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer brought up new CNN poll numbers that indicated that the number of people who think Sarah Palin is qualified to be president has dropped since early September 2008. He asked Jeffrey, "Why has it gone down?" Jeffrey then made his first point about the media bias: "I think since Sarah Palin has been nominated, she's taken quite a beating from the liberal press." He then described how he thought those poll numbers didn’t matter, and that "quite frankly, I think if she was at the top of the ticket, they would be doing better."
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, true to his form over the past several weeks, launched another attack on Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Tuesday’s The Situation Room. During his regular "Cafferty File" segment during the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program,he played a clip from the latest interview the Alaska governor did with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, in which she partially answered her critics’ questioning of her readiness to be vice president by repeating the list of offices that she has held over the years. After she concluded with her past position of Alaska oil and gas commissioner/regulator, the CNN veteran condescended, "A regulator of oil and gas. How can -- how can anybody, including John McCain, take this woman seriously?... When this is over they all write books. Hers will be titled, ‘How I Committed Political Suicide on the CBS Evening News.’"
When he returned at the end of the hour to read some of the viewer responses to the question, Cafferty read nothing but negative responses to the question, with one exception, and he continued his condescension after reading it. A woman named Trudy wrote, "Within three minutes, you remind me why I don't watch the opinionated news on CNN.... Your condescending attitude towards Sarah Palin is another example of the lock-step Left trying to portray a Republican as less intelligent." Caffery then replied, "Trudy, when it comes to Sarah Palin, that's not much of a reach."
CNN world affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria, in a column published in the October 6 issue of Newsweek, condescended towards Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, labeled her "utterly unqualified to be vice president," and complimented Katie Couric for her "smart question" to the Alaska governor in a recent interview. He later asserted clairvoyantly that"she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start."
As a result of this slam, CNN host Wolf Blitzer interviewed Zakaria on Monday’s The Situation Room, in which the analyst referenced Tina Fey’s nearly word-for-word quotation of Palin from the Couric interview on last Saturday’s SNL program, which was played earlier in the program: "The scary answer was on the economy -- the one you displayed switching back and forth between Saturday Night Live, because it was absolutely clear, that she simply did not understand any of the issues involved. She did not understand the question."
An astounding thing happened on CNN Monday evening: not only did Lou Dobbs say that Democrat Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden makes "many more misstatements than Sarah Palin," but he also chided Wolf Blitzer and the "Situation Room" crew for failing to point it out during their Bash Sarah session.
In preparation for the upcoming vice presidential debate, Blitzer brought on CNN analysts Gloria Borger and Jeffrey Toobin, as well as "The Weekly Standard's" Steve Hayes, to handicap the event.
As you might expect, Palin was the butt of many jokes leading Dobbs to marvelously inject the following during a mid-segment promo for his upcoming program (h/t NB reader Kevin Groenhagen):
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty has full-blown Palin Derangement Syndrome. In his latest slam of Republican vice-presidential candidate on Friday’s The Situation Room, Cafferty labeled Palin’s interview with CBS’s Katie Couric "one of the most pathetic pieces of tape I have ever seen from someone aspiring to one of the highest offices in this country," after he played a clip of the Alaska governor making an awkward reply to a question. He then asked, "Is Governor Sarah Palin qualified to be president?" When host Wolf Blitzer replied to this comment by stating that "she's cramming a lot of information," Cafferty blasted back, "There's no excuse for that! She's supposed to know a little bit of this....You know, don't make excuses for her! That's pathetic." Of course, the CNN commentator only read negative replies to his question near the end of the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program.
On Friday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty asked, "Is Sarah Palin's 15 minutes of fame over?" As you can see, Jack seems very anxious for Palin to become a has been of little consequence in this election:
Funny how a stock market crash, the failure of a few big investment banks will distract Americans from the flavor of the day. There doesn't seem to be the burning interest in who makes Sarah Palin's glasses that there was a few days ago. Former White House advisor and Republican strategist Karl Rove told the Associated Press this week that the Palin phenomenon will fade between now and the election, and that may be already happening [transcript continues below the fold].
On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?
TRUMP: I really don't know Senator Biden but I know one thing. He's run a number of times for president. He's gotten less than 1 percent of the vote each time. And that's a pretty tough thing. You know, he's also been involved in pretty big controversy like plagiarism in college and various other things. That's a pretty big statement. So perhaps you change over a period of time. But when you plagiarize, that's a very bad statement. That hasn't been brought up yet, but I'm sure at some point it will. I'm sure that Sarah Palin will bring it up in a debate or somebody's going to bring it up.
BLITZER: Are you talking about plagiarism when he was running for president?
TRUMP: No, I'm talking about when he was a college student as I understand it, and this was a big issue originally but he supposedly plagiarized as a college student. That's a pretty serious charge.
BLITZER: I don't remember that. We'll check it out. But maybe you obviously have a better memory about that.
CNN's Situation Room today featured a Wolf Blitzer interview with former Defense Secretary William Cohen. As a lead in to the interview, White House correspondent Elaine Quijano reported on President Bush's actions to quiet the country's financial jitters. She wrapped up:
To show the empty "logic" that Jack Cafferty of CNN employs in his political commentary all one need do is check out his September 16 Political Ticker blog post on why the race for the White House is so tight in the polls. Reason: the country is filled with racists. Yes, folks, if you are voting against Obama (and no matter who or what you are actually supporting and why) it must be because you are a racist. It isn't because you stand against what Obama stands for, it has to be because you are a racist.
This delusional, preconceived notion is becoming the excuse du jour with Democrat supporters that have lately seen a dawning hint that McCain may just win this election. And, that is really all it is, too. An excuse. An excuse that ignores all the warts and obvious problems with Barack Obama, his record, and the fantasy stage show that is his campaign.
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty blasted Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Tuesday’s The Situation Room over her refusal to cooperate with the Alaska state legislature’s investigation into the firing of Walt Monegan, the former Alaska public safety commissioner: "Palin is refusing to cooperate with the investigation -- shades of President Bush, right? Embarrassing investigation? Just refuse to cooperate and claim it’s all someone else’s fault." He later characterized this move by the Alaska governor, stating that it "goes a long way toward explaining why Sarah Palin is reluctant to do interviews or hold news conferences."
Cafferty then gave some details over this refusal: "Palin says the probe has been hijacked by the Obama campaign for political gain. But Monegan was fired and this investigation began long before Palin was ever named to the Republican ticket, clear back in July. The Obama campaign denies the accusation. McCain’s people say that Palin will not cooperate with the investigation because it is ‘tainted.’ They insist Monegan was fired because of insubordination."
After a brief hiatus from CNN due to his ties to Hillary Clinton, former Clinton administration advisor Paul Begala is back on the cable network echoing Democrat talking points.
This comes months after CNN announced back in January that Begala, along with Hillary shill James Carville, had been removed as contributors "to make sure that all the analysts that are on are non-aligned."
If that's the case, how does CNN justify bringing Begala back just in time to echo Barack Obama's view that John McCain represents four more years of George W. Bush?
Sadly, that's exactly what occurred during the 4PM installment of Wednesday's "Situation Room" (video available here, file photo):
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani faced liberal lines of questioning from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger during the 6 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room before the network’s Thursday night coverage of the Republican convention. In particular, Borger pressed Giuliani on his differences with Sarah Palin on social issues: "Last night, you spoke before Sarah Palin, a woman who -- with whom you have very little in common on the social issues, right? She's pro-life.... [L]et's just say she's a heroine to the right wing of this party, and you're not their hero, okay?... [M]y question is, has the big tent of the Republican Party, which you always talk about -- has that gotten a little narrower?"
Post-Palin Speech Update: How's that poll going now, Bill?
Imagine it's a few days before the Dem convention. In a big—BIG—surprise, Barack Obama names Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy his vice-presidential running mate. You're a partisan Republican. Do you?:
a. demand that Obama drop Kennedy from the ticket; or
b. sit back and enjoy the, uh, ride.
I'm guessing the great majority of red-blooded Republicans would answer 'b.' Why wouldn't you want a weak link on the opposing ticket? So what kind of scare has Sarah Palin has put into the MSM that various of its members, like Jack Cafferty, are floating the notion that McCain should consider dropping Palin? Do they sense she could be a real game-changer?
In the midst of being pounded by Wolf Blitzer and other CNN panelists about Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin's supposedly inadequate experience, Rudy Giuliani wondered late Tuesday afternoon: “Why did Barack Obama get a pass on his experience? And why is Sarah Palin's experience, which from the executive point of view is considerably more than Barack Obama's, under such scrutiny?” Blitzer retorted:
But who says he's [Obama] been getting a pass? He's been scrutinized for months and months and months.
To which, a laughing Giuliani scoffed: “I haven't seen the scrutiny of his experience or his record.” Blitzer then, seriously, asked: "Do you read your hometown newspaper, the New York Times?” Giuliani, still trying to get his words out while laughing at Blitzer's premise at the end of the first hour of The Situation Room, lightheartedly suggested: “Maybe that's the problem. I read the New York Times and I haven't seen much scrutiny of Barack Obama in the New York Times.”
Late Monday afternoon live on CNN, Bill Bennett rebuked -- as an “outrageous” piece of “advocacy” and “attack journalism” that “has no place on CNN” -- a story the channel had just run which used the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's daughter to score political points by relaying as fact the talking points on sex education from a left-wing group. A defensive Wolf Blitzer kept saying “hold on” as he tried to justify raising the supposed hypocrisy.
Live from Anchorage at 5:33 PM EDT/4:33 PM CDT/1:33 PM ADT, Kyra Phillips revealed “there were a number of things that we were sent here to investigate,” including “trooper-gate,” but before that, she stressed “here's what's interesting,” that Palin ”has gone on the record and said that she is in full support of abstinence, and that she doesn't believe in contraception on school grounds and sex education.” Phillips then highlighted:
The Alliance for Reproductive Justice...says abstinence doesn't work, we've got to have better sex education in schools and this is just one example, this just underscores -- the pregnancy of the Governor's daughter -- to why we need sex education in schools.
Audio: MP3 audio clip (2:10, 600 Kb) which matches the video above rendered for me by the MRC's Michelle Humphrey.
In an effort to run down Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, a snarling Jack Cafferty managed to insult the entire state of Alaska on CNN's Situation Room: "Sarah Palin is in her first term as governor of Alaska, that's a state that has 13 people and some caribou." This was one small part of an acid-laced harangue by Cafferty on the subject of Sarah Palin, (emphasis mine):
No, it’s not what you might think. We know that CNN’s Roland Martin "dances" to a liberal tune, but the cameras caught him grooving to the music at the Democratic convention, along with CNN frequent contributors (and Democratic strategists) Paul Begala and Donna Brazille, as featured in a report by correspondent Jeanne Moos on Tuesday’s The Situation Room (video at right).
The CNN camera crews caught these lighter moments involving the trio. Martin sang along to the house band’s rendition of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s hit "September," while Begala and Brazile coupled-up and danced together to a slower tune. Not to be upstaged apparently, Martin stopped a passer-by and danced with her. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that they like to let loose when they’re not attacking conservatives and Republicans.
Previewing the first night of the Democratic convention on Monday's "Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer and a network graphic repeatedly identified the announced speakers as liberal. The CNN anchor asserted, "The speaker lineup for tonight, by the way, here at the convention, includes some of the party's most prominent and most liberal members, including the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Ted Kennedy and former President Jimmy Carter."
Blitzer then asked guest James Carville if "...highlighting all these liberals tonight, is that the way these Democrats can reach out to moderates, to independents and say, you know what, it's time for a change?" Carville praised the work of cancer-stricken Senator Ted Kennedy and predicted high emotion. Fellow guest, conservative radio host Bill Bennett, replied, "Oh, it's their party and they can be emotional or cry if they want to or be liberal if they want to."
Shortly after the Democrats gaveled to order their 2008 nominating convention at 5 p.m. EDT, CNN's Jack Cafferty did the party of Jimmy Carter a favor by pushing its economic message on his blog and the network's "The Situation Room" program with his question of the hour. Cafferty listed negative-sounding statistic after negative statistic, failing to offset them with even one praiseworthy accomplishment of the Bush administration, before asking CNN viewers if they are "better off" now than eight years ago.
Ronald Reagan had some success with this question a few years ago and things weren’t nearly as crummy then as they are now: Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago? But this time it’s been 8 years.
This evening on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, the host expressed amusement at something he'd heard earlier today on his own network. Ironically, the source of his merriment was a question posed by anchor Jack Cafferty on CNN's The Situation Room:
Delivering the ultimate liberal insult, in an online commentary posted Tuesday morning on CNNPolitics.com, CNN's Jack Cafferty charged that John McCain is as incompetent and incapable as President George W. Bush. “It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current President,” Cafferty felt compelled to share. “Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been,” Cafferty fretted before concluding: “I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him.”
What set off Cafferty? McCain's “shallow, simplistic and trite” answers during Saturday's Saddleback forum in which “he showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none.” The contributor of “The Cafferty File” segments on The Situation Room complained in his posting: “Throughout the evening, McCain chose to recite portions of his stump speech as answers to the questions he was being asked. Why? He has lived 71 years. Surely he has some thoughts on what it all means that go beyond canned answers culled from the same speech he delivers every day.”