CNN Drooling Over Texas Democratic Senate Candidate

March 6th, 2018 10:34 AM

Tuesday's edition of CNN's New Day featured a report very sympathetic to Texas Democratic Senate Candidate Beto O'Rourke, who hopes to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz during this year's midterm election.

As Texas becomes the first state to hold primaries for the 2018 midterm elections, CNN has unofficially endorsed Democrat Beto O’Rourke for Senate. CNN reporter Ed Lavandera presented a report documenting the campaign of O’Rourke, who currently represents the City of El Paso in Congress. Only a small portion of the package actually focused on O’Rourke’s policy positions, which obviously fall on the left end of the political spectrum, the rest tried to portray him as a political rock star, literally.



Lavandera actually tracked down a CD featuring music from O’Rourke’s tenure as a “shaggy-haired guitarist of a punk rock band.” Lavandera brought up punk rock again as he closed his fawning profile of the Democrat, saying “Beto O’Rourke knows making punk rock mainstream in Texas isn’t easy but he’ll head out on the road again hoping to make it happen.” The network’s coverage of O’Rourke provides just the latest example of the media tendency to portray Democratic politicians as lovable celebrities.

The CNN reporter did acknowledge that he reached out to Senator Cruz for this particular piece but even if the Senator did agree to it, one would have a hard time believing that CNN would have painted Cruz in the same favorable light as his Democratic challenger. As the segment drew to a close, New Day co-anchor Chris Cuomo thanked Lavandera for reporting on that “good story.”

Throughout the report on O’Rourke, the correspondent did acknowledge that the Congressman faces an uphill battle winning in a state like Texas, considering that President Trump carried the nation’s second-most populous state by nine points and Texas has not sent a Democratic Senator to Washington since 1988. He neglected to mention that the Senate race will take place concurrently with a gubernatorial race where enormously popular Republican Governor Greg Abbott will almost surely secure a second term.

CNN has adopted the motto “America’s Choice” as it covers Election 2018. At this point, America’s choice of which party it wants to control the levers of power in Washington remains unclear. The media choice, on the other hand, remains quite clear. They will continue to shower liberal Democrats with positive coverage in the lead-up to November.


A partial transcript is below. Click expand to read more. 


CNN New Day


06:40 AM


ALISYN CAMEROTA: Okay. About an hour and a half from now, voters in Texas will head to the polls, kicking off the midterm elections officially. Something interesting is happening with Democrats in that deep red state. CNN’s Ed Lavandera is live in Texas with more. Tell us about it, Ed.


ED LAVANDERA: Good morning, Alisyn. Well Democrats here in Texas once again talking about a blue wave taking over this state. And you know, more people are afraid, skeptical of that in a lot of circles but over the last few months, little known Congressman from El Paso, turns out has raised a lot more money than Republican Senator Ted Cruz in the Senatorial race. Now, Cruz still has more than a million dollars of cash on hand but nonetheless, this striking news of this little known Congressman outraising Ted Cruz is making this race a lot more interesting.


BETO O’ROURKE: Hey, everybody!


LAVANDERA: Robert O’Rourke has campaigned in almost every one of the 254 counties in Texas, even in places where finding a Democrat is harder than hunting Bigfoot.


O’ROURKE: This community voted for Donald Trump 73 percent. Not the place you’re going to expect to see a Democrat in the first place.


LAVANDERA: Why do you hit those places where the likelihood of you getting many votes, let’s be very, is pretty slim?


O’ROURKE: Listen, I, my philosophy is everyone deserves to be heard. It’s to my benefit to listen to every single Texan that I seek to represent.


(Begin video clip)


O’ROURKE: I share the story of El Paso.


(End video clip)


LAVANDERA: O’Rourke started in politics as an El Paso City Councilman in 2005, was elected to Congress in 2012 and around town is simply known as Beto. O’Rourke faces a daunting task. This was the sea of red in Texas after the 2016 Presidential Election. President Trump won by nine points. Lloyd Bentsen was the last Democrat to win a Texas Senate seat, the grainy video gives away that was a long time ago.


(Begin video clip)


LAVANDERA: Texas highways are littered with the political careers of Democrats who thought they could win in this state, right?




LAVANDERA: What makes you different?


O’ROURKE: There are also, there are also really strong memories of people like LBJ.


LAVANDERA: Here, O’Rourke tells the story of campaigning in a small town that hasn’t seen a Senator there in 70 years. He’s banking on the idea that if he can meet you face to face, he’ll win your vote. 


O’ROURKE: So listen, that doesn’t mean that we win. It just means that we’re getting back to our roots of how we used to win, the way that we used to run campaigns when we were successful.


(End video clip)


LAVANDERA: Beto O’Rourke wasn’t a politician back then, he was road tripping around Texas to his own soundtrack as the shaggy-haired guitarist of a punk rock band.


(Begin video clip)


LAVANDERA: We were able to track this down.


O’ROURKE: I love it.


LAVANDERA: This took a lot of work.


O’ROURKE: Yeah, well good for you. There are only 500 made.


LAVANDERA: Only 500 made. 


(End video clip)


LAVANDERA: O’Rourke says he’s brought that punk rock spirit to this campaign.


O’ROURKE: We’re not doing the corporate stuff. The DNC, the DFCC, the PACs, the corporations and the special interests. It’s just us. This is as punk rock as it gets.


LAVANDERA: Without much help from the Democratic Party, he’s gone to social media.


O’ROURKE: Good morning from Tyler, Texas. 


LAVANDERA: Live streaming the campaign every chance he gets.


O’ROURKE: We don’t have folks who produce slick messages for us. We have an iPhone and it’s a, it’s a, it’s a late model iPhone at that.


LAVANDERA: How crucial has that social media aspect of your campaign been to your success?


O’ROURKE: It’s, it’s great. It’s the most direct, honest way to connect with people short of actually being there in their community with them in person.


LAVANDERA: The El Paso Congressman supports providing legal status to many undocumented migrants, legalizing marijuana, is pro-choice, supports a ban on assault weapons, not the kind of issues that get strong support in Texas. And Republican Ted Cruz seizes on that every chance he gets.


SENATOR TED CRUZ: They would love to see the state of Texas have an anti-gun, big government, pro-amnesty liberal Democrat represent it. Now, I don’t think those are the values of Texans.


LAVANDERA: Republicans who have seen him campaign in the reddest parts of the state, like Tim O’Hare, a Republican party chairman in Tarrant County aren’t nervous.


TIM O’HARE: And I know Democrats like to think they’ve got a chance and they do this every, every two years.  Beto’s going to lose. It’s just, it’s the same song, different dance.


(Begin video clip)


LAVANDERA: Beto O’Rourke knows making punk rock mainstream in Texas isn’t easy but he’ll head out on the road again hoping to make it happen.


(End video clip)


LAVANDERA: Now, we requested interview of Ted Cruz for this piece. His spokesperson told us that they would not be able to schedule an interview with us for it. But you know, nonetheless, there is a lot of talk and energy in Texas among Democrats of this idea of a blue wave. And as you know, Republicans highly skeptical, they say it’s hard to imagine a blue wave when they have yet to manage to turn this state purple. Chris?


CHRIS CUOMO: It would be interesting to see Beto get a chance to go toe to toe with Ted Cruz. It would be interesting if Cruz would give him that chance. Unlikely given that he’s the incumbent. All right, thank you very much, Ed. That was a good story.