Describing the agenda of questions CNN chose to pose, during its Wednesday night Republican presidential debate with YouTube, as “completely different” from those forwarded to Democrats in July, Fred Barnes, on Thursday's Special Report on FNC, cited the contrast in questions about the military and Iraq as demonstrating how CNN picked the questioners to “screw Republicans” and “boost Democrats.” Mara Liasson of NPR echoed the sentiment, recalling that the questions put to Democrats “were about global warming and health care and education, all kind of Democratic issues” and so they “weren't challenging the basic principles of the Democratic Party,” but “there were lots of questions last night that were” meant to undermine GOP principles.
Earlier in the day, on The Weekly Standard's Web site, Barnes, Executive Editor of the magazine, hypothesized: “I don't know if the folks who put the debate together were purposely trying to make the Republican candidates look bad, but they certainly succeeded.” He asserted that the YouTube video submission questions CNN decided to air reflected “the issues, in the view of liberals and many in the media, on which Republicans look particularly unattractive.”
A report on Thursday’s "The Situation Room" tried to make an issue out of the fact that President Bush’s name was only mentioned a few times at the Republican presidential debate that they organized with YouTube. CNN correspondent Carol Costello compared the President’s name to a curse word in her introduction to the report. "It sure seems like Bush has become a four-letter word you don't want to mention if you are a Republican running for office. They've taken to talking about him in code, not daring to say 'Bush,' but not shy about promoting his agenda."
During the report, which aired at the bottom half of the 5 pm Eastern hour, Costello went on to say that "the Bush moniker [was] uttered just four times in two hours." This is indeed the case if you look at the CNN transcript of the debate. But this doesn't tell the entire story.
CNN is defending its job in vetting questions for last night's debate, reports Politico's Kenneth Vogel:
The retired general who quizzed Republican presidential candidates about gays and lesbians in the military was not the only person linked to a Democratic presidential candidate who got to ask a question at Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube debate.
Thursday’s “American Morning” program, while reporting retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr’s connections to the Hillary Clinton campaign, failed to mention one key revelation made by debate moderator Anderson Cooper during the post-debate coverage - that Cooper knew that Kerr was “an activist of some sort.”
Co-host John Roberts not only reported on Kerr’s membership of Clinton’s “LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee” during all 3 hours of “American Morning,” but conducted a live interview of Kerr during the 7 am Eastern hour. Six minutes into the 6 am Eastern, Roberts gave the following brief on the Kerr story.
In the greatest of ironies, after Democrats refused to participate in debates sponsored by Fox News due to its supposed partiality, CNN has now shown itself in back-to-back debates to be as biased as biased can be.
After either participating in or allowing the planting of campaign operatives at November 15's Democrat presidential debate in Las Vegas, it has now become apparent that similar stocking of audience questioners occurred in Wednesday's Republican debate.
On Thursday morning, Michelle Malkin identified two plants from the Obama and Edwards campaigns. As her website is having some problems at the moment, Inside Cable News reported that according to Malkin, one plant was David Cercone, a declared Obama supporter, who asked the following question:
Wednesday night's CNN/YouTube presidential debate for the Republican candidates largely lived up to its promise to be a debate fitting for Republican voters as the vast majority of the questions used were asked from a conservative point of view. But the GOP debate's slant toward conservative questions was less than the July 23 CNN/YouTube Democratic debate's slant toward liberal questions. On Wednesday, out of a total of 34 video questions presented, conservative questions outnumbered liberal questions by 14 to 8, with the remaining questions ideologically ambiguous or neutral. During the Democratic debate, out of a total of 38 video questions, the slant toward liberal questions came in at 17 liberal to 6 conservative, with the remainder ambiguous or neutral.
[Update: Keith Kerr was known to CNN as a gay activist as far back as December 2003, when he was featured in this CNN article.]
CNN, as part of its Republican debate with YouTube, failed to mention that retired general Keith Kerr, who announced he was gay after his retirement from the Army, is a member of Hillary Clinton’s "LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee." Not only did General Kerr ask the question via a YouTube video, but he was also present in the audience, and got to ask the candidates for a "straight answer" (pardon the pun).
General Kerr’s, whose question came 47 minutes into the 9 pm Eastern hour the debate, is also part of the Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network's advisory council, an organization "dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and related forms of intolerance"
[See updates below: Bill Bennett mentioned Kerr's possible Hillary connection on CNN 30 minutes after the debate, and Anderson Cooper confirms this at the close of the 10 pm Eastern hour.]
As reported by NewsBuster Matthew Balan, Barbra Streisand's endorsement of Hillary Clinton provoked liberal CNN columnist Jack Cafferty to call Streisand a 'reclusive, over-the-hill vocalist'. However, unlike supposed professional journalist Cafferty, 'Wheel of Fortune' host Pat Sajak managed to take an analytical approach to the entire celebrity endorsement system, and in the process, expose more than a few of them as emperors without clothes. Sajak has a remarkably clear view of the actual role of a celebrity and he appears to be well aware that most celebrities are experts in exactly nothing. He writes in Human Events online magazine,
If any group of citizens is uniquely unqualified to tell someone else how to vote, it’s those of us who live in the sheltered, privileged arena of celebrityhood.
CNN's senior business correspondent Ali Velshi had an interesting question for viewers this morning.
Before telling viewers that consumer confidence is at the lowest level in two years, Velshi asked if the media have anything to do with it.
"Do you think we're feeding this thing? Do you think we're fueling this sort of misery?" asked Velshi on "American Morning" November 28.
A question for Newsbusters readers: How would you answer Velshi's question?
The Business & Media Institute has found that the media certainly don't reinforce the soundness of the economy when things are going well. BMI's "Bad News Bears" study that looked at one year of reporting, found that 62 percent of network (ABC, CBS, NBC) economic stories focused on negative news. Those stories were also given more airtime.
Other BMI research has shown that the media have emphasized the possibility of recession since the economic recovery began in August 2003.
Cafferty made the comments just before the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour of Tuesday's "The Situation Room." Two minutes earlier, as part of the "Political Ticker" feature on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer read a brief about the sometimes-retired singer's plug for the former First Lady. This prompted a question from Cafferty as he prepared to read the viewer responses to his 'Question of the Hour' for the 4 pm Eastern hour. "Give me a hand with something. What exactly does the Streisand endorsement represent?" Blitzer responded, "It means that Barbara Streisand, great singer, is supporting Hillary Clinton." This prompted Cafferty's "reclusive, neurotic" line.
For years, NewsBusters and its parent, the Media Research Center, have been reporting on the disparity in economic coverage by mainstream media outlets during the Clinton and Bush administrations.
In the past seven years, economic data that would have been praised when Bill Clinton was in the White House has continually been presented as recessionary, or even depression-like.
With that in mind, CNN's Lou Dobbs was discussing the economy, and, in particular, the recent holiday sales figures with WOR radio's Steve Malzberg Monday. The conservative host asked Dobbs, "If these numbers were the numbers nearing the end of a Clinton administration or a Democrat's administration, wouldn't they be touting it as a wonderful, strong economy?
CNN’s Jack Cafferty gave another of his rantings against the war in Iraq and the Bush administration on Monday’s "The Situation Room." Cafferty, channeling Ramsey Clark, called the war in Iraq "an unprovoked act of naked aggression," and charged that the issues of establishing a Palestinian state and the brokering peace between the Israelis and Palestinians have been "virtually ignored by the Bush administration through almost two terms."
Cafferty made this commentary on the upcoming Annapolis, Maryland peace summit eight minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of "The Situation Room" as part of his regular "Cafferty File" segment. In addition to the above, Cafferty speculated that the reason that the summit was occurring at this time was due to President Bush rushing to secure a legacy.
CNN International’s Hala Gorani couldn’t fathom why a Palestinian terrorist organization wasn’t invited to the upcoming Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland. Following-up to an answer made by State Department spokesman Michael Pelletier during an interview, Gorani exclaimed, "How can you have a Middle East peace summit that doesn’t include Hamas? Forget whether or not you don’t like them as a group, or call them terrorists. How can you not?"
Gorani asked the question 18 minutes into the 12 pm "Your World Today" program on Monday, which is simulcast on CNN. Gorani began the interview on a bit of a skeptical, even hostile note, and she acted as if she should be the one directing the negotiations. After her initial question and the answer from Pelletier, Gorani shot back with the following point. "You have two very weak leaders. The Palestinian isn't even representative of his entire population. Ehud Olmert is the least popular Israeli prime minister, practically, in history. George Bush won't be in office in 13 months' time. Why would anything come out of this?"
If the preview shown on "CNN Sunday Morning" is any guide, Wednesday's CNN/YouTube Republican debate will likely be dominated by questions posed from the left, just as the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate also featured questions posed from the left. CNN correspondent Josh Levs showed clips of several sample questions, including a question from a gay Republican who charges "a vote for you is a vote against my family," a question from a woman concerned about "returning the civil liberties to the American people and stopping these outrageous attacks on our security and our privacy," and a question about CEO salaries increasing faster than the minimum wage. While Levs cautioned that he does not know whether any of the questions used in his piece will be chosen for the debate, none of the questions that appeared in the report were posed from a conservative point-of-view. (Transcript follows)
Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the November 25 "CNN Sunday Morning":
During an appearance on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw pointed out that before the invasion of Iraq, even "people who were critical of the war" thought that Saddam Hussein "had weapons of mass destruction," as he responded to criticism that the media were not aggressive enough about challenging President Bush before the Iraq invasion. And while commenting on racial issues, giving his view that "we need to have a dialogue in this country" about race, Brokaw lamented the problems posed by "political correctness" which means "you're in danger of being a racist if you go against the merits of some issues and just try to look at it objectively." Brokaw added: "Within the black culture, there's a fear about speaking out, about what some people see as wrong, because they say, don't go there, you know, it will only hurt our people." (Transcript follows)
In the past couple of days, you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting an hysterical press report concerning an excerpt of former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's soon to be released book seemingly implicating President George W. Bush in lying about the Valerie Plame Wilson affair.
Those guilty of premature emasculation will likely be distraught over statements by the book's publisher indicating the media overreacted to the 121 words posted at Public Affairs Books.com Monday which were part of a marketing campaign to rollout upcoming spring printings.
During a Monday November 19 appearance at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, CNN founder Ted Turner charged that the Bush administration has "turned a lot of our friends into enemies," as he contended that when President Bush came into office, "we were friends with just about everybody in the world." Turner remarked, as documented by Raleigh's newspaper the "News and Observer": "Making friends where there used to be enemies is a very important thing to do. ... That's why I'm so sorry about this administration. Because we were friends with just about everybody in this world -- the United States was -- when this administration came to power. Now, we've turned a lot of our friends into enemies. ... I think the country with the most friends is the one that wins in the end." (More quotes follow)
CNN’s John Roberts conducted a softball interview with Joe Wilson on Wednesday’s "American Morning," based upon the claim by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan that he had "unknowingly passed along false information" about the roles of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the Valerie Plame "leak." McClellan made the claim in his upcoming book, and further stated that "Rove, Libby, the Vice President [Dick Cheney], the president’s chief of staff [Andrew Card at the time], and the president himself" were "involved" in this "misleading," as Roberts put it.
Roberts first asked Wilson (who was falsely identified as the "former U.S. ambassador to Iraq," when Wilson actually worked as Deputy Chief of Mission in Iraq from 1988-1991, and as ambassador to Gabon from 1992 to 1995) for his response to McClellan’s statement. Wilson responded that the statement ‘advances the narrative a bit" about Vice President Cheney’s involvement in the "leak,"and proposed that President Bush was "either completely out of touch, or he's an accessory to obstruction of justice, both before the fact and after the fact" in the matter.
A report on Tuesday’s "The Situation Room," which highlighted the anti-Giuliani campaign of some family members of firefighters killed on 9/11, also tried to throw some retrospective doubt on the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" who opposed John Kerry in 2004. CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick proposed the following question about the campaign: "is this another 'Swift Boat' situation, in which unsubstantiated attacks against John Kerry's service in Vietnam, scuttled his presidential candidacy. These families say no."
In addition to this question, CNN played two sound bites, one from Sally Reganhard, a prominent member of this campaign, and the other from a Baruch College professor, which reenforced the "unsubstantiated" label used by CNN. Reganhard indirectly accused the "Swift Boat" veterans of using lies. "The difference between the 'Swift Boating' and this is that everything that we are saying is the truth." Also, a chyron during the report proclaimed that "9/11 Families Challenge Giuliani: Efforts Compared to ‘Swiftboating.’"
If you had any questions about how much Thursday's Democrat presidential debate, sponsored by the Clinton News Network, was staged so that Hillary, who had an abysmal two weeks heading into the event, could mount a comeback, they were answered on Sunday's "Late Edition."
During this installment of the CNN program hosted by Wolf Blitzer, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux actually proclaimed the audience attending the event one of the winners for playing such a significant role.
What did the audience do that was so key in Malveaux's view?
"They booed Senator Edwards, they booed Senator Obama, and really I think kind of framed and changed kind of the tone of the debate" (partial transcript follows, video available here):
"CNN's 'Reliable Sources' is one of television's only regular programs to examine how journalists do their jobs and how the media affect the stories they cover." -- from CNN's "Reliable Sources" website [emphasis added].
When it comes to "how journalists do their job," the story of the week was Wolf Blitzer's spectacular failure to do his. Going into Thursday's debate, the big question was how Hillary was going to deal with the inevitable grilling over her flip-flopping on the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. But when Blitzer finally got around to the issue, well into the debate, he didn't bother to ask a single follow-up question to Hillary's terse "no" answer.
So surely Reliable Sources's host Howard Kurtz would put that question squarely on the table on today's show, right? Wrong.
It's certainly safe to say that conservatives rarely agree with anything written by liberal bloggers.
However, on Saturday, not only was there a prominent posting at Daily Kos entitled "Clinton News Network = CNN," which received 631 comments in only seven hours, but the website's proprietor, the esteemed Markos Moulitsas, wrote an article of his own that was highly critical of Clintonista James Carville's role at the cable network.
In the end, the hypocrisy was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
But before we get there, the first piece voiced displeasure with the recent shenanigans by CNN during Thursday's Democrat Presidential debate:
There's a great deal of controversy brewing concerning implications that CNN not only stocked the audience at Thursday's Democrat Presidential debate, but also controlled the questions attendees asked.
So much for Wolf Blitzer not caving into pressure from the Clinton campaign.
*****Update: It looks like all six "undecided voters" set up to ask questions at the debate were plants. More at end of post!
One of the most delicious incidents from the debate was reported Friday by Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic magazine blog (emphasis added (h/t Allah at Hot Air):
In order to make food choices for her constituents, Perry wants to ban new fast-food restaurants from opening in the South L.A. district for at least a year.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta ate up the plan for regulatory meddling saying on "American Morning" November 16, "[A]lthough obesity may not be eliminated entirely, studies show zoning laws are a good first step to fighting the problem."
Would the Democrats have been better off if Fox News had run their debate? The candidates are boycotting Fox as a way to please their far-left base, but Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace on this morning’s Fox & Friends criticized how CNN’s Wolf Blitzer repeatedly interrupted exchanges among the candidates last night (“It reminded me of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.”) and forced candidates like Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich to beg for airtime.
“Fox, I have to say, I think we’re smarter,” argued Wallace, who has moderated a couple of GOP debates this year and would presumably play a role in a Democratic debate on FNC if the candidates dropped their boycott. “We let the guy talk for a minute. At the end of the minute, the bell rings, and that’s it. You’ve got a minute, and you can do with it what you want. But instead we have Wolf Blitzer every 30 seconds going, ‘Okay, okay, okay.’ It reminded me of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.”
CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, while moderating the second half of the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on Thursday night, added her own "two cents" to a question she fielded from an "undecided voter." After the voter asked the nominees what qualifications a Supreme Court nominee should possess, Malveaux directed the question to Senator Christopher Dodd, and added whether or not he would "require nominees to support abortion rights."
LaShannon Spencer, who was identified as a member of the First African Methodist Church, asked the question near the top of the 10 pm Eastern hour. She highlighted how health care and the Iraq war had, in her view, dominated the questions during past debates. "We constantly hear health care questions, and questions pertaining to the war. But we don't hear questions pertaining to the Supreme Court justice or education. My question is, if you are elected president, what qualities must the appointee possess?"