CNN, NYT: 'Robo-Call' Campaign Phone Strategy Only a GOP Problem

Have you heard the brouhaha about so-called “robo-calls”? These are repeat telephone calls by a telemarketing software program that critics claim violate federal communications laws. As you might imagine, the media have been wrongly depicting this as exclusively being a Republican strategy, while ignoring the Democrat campaigns that are doing exactly the same thing.

The New York Times published an article about this subject Tuesday, and CNN reported on this matter during Monday’s “Situation Room” (video here with transcript to follow). Of course, neither outlet chose to inform the public about Democrat candidates utilizing the same telephone strategy as reported here, here, here, and here (hat tip to Michelle Malkin).

CNN’s Jacki Schechner declared: “Wolf, there's an audio clip that's making the rounds online on some of the top liberal blogs and we got the same clip from Tammy Duckworth's campaign, she's the Democrat running in Illinois' sixth district against Republican Peter Roskam. Take a listen.”

Isn't it interesting how CNN these days seems fixated on the propaganda being disseminated at "top liberal blogs?" Keeping with that theme, Schechner continued:

This is actually an anti-Duckworth ad that the campaign says was left on a voter's answering machine and it's paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Duckworth's campaign says this is problematic for a couple of reasons, one that the NRCC doesn't identify itself until the end of the ad and that the people are receiving multiple calls, and they say that they're getting annoyed and it's tough for the campaign to actually reach their voters. That's what the campaign is saying. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says that they're seeing similar complaints from Democratic candidates across the country. Now the NRCC tells us that they don't make multiple or repeated calls and that all of their phone calls do comply with federal regulations. But it's interesting to note that the FCC law says that any automated call has to identify the caller at the top of the call and include a phone number. And the Duckworth example doesn't seem to do either.

Unfortunately, Schechner didn’t include any examples of Democrats doing the same thing. The Helena Independent Record reported on October 27:

Three supporters of U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns said they have received illegal automated recorded telephone calls from the international firefighters union’s political action committee criticizing the Republican incumbent.”

Former state Sen. Tom Keating, R-Billings, Ann Marie Usher of Laurel and Pat Plowman of Boyd said in separate phone interviews that they received automated or “robo-calls.’’

“It was a recorded thing,’’ Keating said. “The guy (on the recording) said that Burns had voted against funding firefighters 16 times. He did say he was a firefighter. I listened to who paid for it, and it was the international union.’’

Automated calls are illegal in Montana under a 1991 state law.

Once again, there are other reports of such activity here, here, and here. Yet, CNN didn’t bother sharing this with its viewers. Neither did the New York Times:

The calls are part of a telephone blitz that the Republican Party has unleashed in several dozen races that are likely to determine control of the House in Tuesday’s elections. And the repeat calls to the same homes have set off a new furor over campaign tactics, with the Democrats claiming the calls violate federal communications rules and are tantamount to harassment.

What follows is a full transcript of the CNN segment on this issue.

WOLF BLITZER: Voters' phones are ringing off the hook but the use of automated phone calls or what's known as robo calls is attracting some serious criticism. Jacki Schechner is standing by to take a closer look at what's happening specifically in Illinois's sixth district. Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, there's an audio clip that's making the rounds online on some of the top liberal blogs and we got the same clip from Tammy Duckworth's campaign, she's the Democrat running in Illinois' sixth district against Republican Peter Roskam. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED: I'm calling (INAUDIBLE) Tammy Duckworth. Tammy Duckworth said she would seriously consider repealing --

(END OF AUDIO CLIP)

SCHECHNER: This is actually an anti-Duckworth ad that the campaign says was left on a voter's answering machine and it's paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Duckworth's campaign says this is problematic for a couple of reasons, one that the NRCC doesn't identify itself until the end of the ad and that the people are receiving multiple calls, and they say that they're getting annoyed and it's tough for the campaign to actually reach their voters. That's what the campaign is saying. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says that they're seeing similar complaints from Democratic candidates across the country. Now the NRCC tells us that they don't make multiple or repeated calls and that all of their phone calls do comply with federal regulations. But it's interesting to note that the FCC law says that any automated call has to identify the caller at the top of the call and include a phone number. And the Duckworth example doesn't seem to do either. Now, we should also mention that Peter Roskam's campaign has nothing to do with these calls or the content of them.

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