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"CNN: If It's News To You, It's News To Us"

I was feeling tired, so I slept through the Republican debate last night. And it sounds like I missed a humdinger.

But as is so often the case, the really interesting stuff was the behind-the-scenes dirt.

As Kevin pointed out, it turns out that one of the questioners -- retired General Keith Kerr -- is a Hillary Clinton advisor. And others have been doing some digging, and have found that three other questioners also have ties to Democratic candidates. Michelle Malkin has a good roundup of the plants: the abortion questioner is a proud John Edwards supporter, the Log Cabin Republican is backing Barack Obama, the lead-in-toys mom is an aide to a prominent union leader and John Edwards supporter, and the aforementioned General Kerr also helped John Kerry back in 2004.

Amazingly, a few people in pajamas managed to uncover all these connections within an hour or two, but CNN -- with all its resources and fact-checkers and editors and reporters -- either didn't find that out or didn't think it relevant.

But remarkably enough, CNN did have the time and resources to dig up a 13-year-old quote from Mitt Romney where he supported gays in the military and toss that back at him after General Kerr asked his question. They also managed to bring General Kerr to the debate to ask a followup question.

I believe Scott Adams phrased it best: "constructive incompetence." Or, perhaps, "convenient ineptitude."

A few weeks ago, during the most recent Democratic debate, it was uncovered that a lot of the questioners CNN picked had were Democratic party officials and apparatchiks. The justification at the time was "oops -- we didn't know!" and "well, it's for the Democratic primary, so of course it's going to be a lot of Democrats asking the questions."

Now that lightning has struck twice at CNN and we have a new slate of Democratic appartchiks and activists asking questions of Republicans, the new narrative seems to be "well, they were valid questions, so it really doesn't matter who asked them."

This raises the interesting question: if who asked the questions is irrelevant, then why didn't the gay general ask about lead in toys, while the mom with her kids ask about gays in the military? The honest answer is, of course, that this is a case of "identity politics" -- in many cases, who is saying something is just as important -- if not more important -- than the actual statement.

The irony here is that the argument is correct. Those were good, solid questions. But CNN, by playing by completely contradictory standards for its questioners at debates, betrays its bias: the Democrats get to stack their questions to make their candidates look good; the Republicans find themselves having to squirm and evade, or give concrete answers that won't make some people very happy.

And the greater irony is that, in the long run, CNN isn't doing the Democrats any favors. By protecting them from the same kind of rigorous questioning that they inflicted on the Republicans, they set them up for failure when CNN can't control things as rigorously. On the other hand, the Republicans have already been tested, and know what sorts of things to expect.

Well done, Clinton News Network.

(Title shamelessly stolen from WKRP In Cincinnati)


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Comments (52)

It's not surprising that th... (Below threshold)
Bob:

It's not surprising that the Dems dominated the questions, including professional pols. Except when the presidential candidates are debating, do any Republicans watch CNN?

This just re-enforces my be... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

This just re-enforces my belief that the demo's are scared. They are afraid of Fox News, and also the candidates running for the republican nomination. This does not surprise me at all. I expect the shinnanigans from CNN, MSNBC and the democratic leadership. Spineless cowards all. ww

I do not watch Cnn, and I h... (Below threshold)
Buckeye:

I do not watch Cnn, and I have watched my last debate. My vote will be based on two things. The candidate that I feel will best protect the country and the people. This includes closing the borders. Also the one who is committed to appointing judges who will base decisions on the constitution.

Jay, you write:"And ... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

Jay, you write:
"And the greater irony is that, in the long run, CNN isn't doing the Democrats any favors. By protecting them from the same kind of rigorous questioning that they inflicted on the Republicans, they set them up for failure when CNN can't control things as rigorously. On the other hand, the Republicans have already been tested, and know what sorts of things to expect."

I just want to write back, I could not agree with you more.

Jay, you are absolutely rig... (Below threshold)
Caustic Conservative:

Jay, you are absolutely right.

Republican candidates routinely have to be better prepared to answer questions for the very reasons you cited.

CNN creates an uniformed voting bloc, ironically. Media bias of this type continues to put the Donks at a competitive disadvantage because Dems face absolutely no pushback until they have already received their nomination. And by then, there's nothing their voters can do about it. See John Kerry.

Just as Homer Simpson could... (Below threshold)

Just as Homer Simpson couldn't bring himself to stop stepping on the rakes in his front yard, GOP candidates can't bring themselves to deal with the likes of CNN as the hostiles they are.

This isn't a case where CNN innocently screwed up by not vetting the questioners sufficiently enough. To the extent CNN thinks they made a mistake, it wasn't their seeding the questions, it was their not covering their tracks better, just as CBS is kicking itself, not for trying to get Bush on the Texas Air National Guard non-story, but for using forgeries that were so bad it took but an hour to expose, and just as TNR doesn't regret trying to make the military look bad, they just wish they had used material that wasn't so easily discounted.

So I'll save the outrage at CNN, they're only acting as one would expect a newsroom full of liberals to act.

The question I have is for the GOP candidates: how do you expect us to respect you when you have so little respect for yourselves that you're willing to keep walking into a room full of hostiles and all but hand them the baseball bat that they use to smack you upside your head?

What was there 3 questions ... (Below threshold)
Pretzel_Logic:

What was there 3 questions on gay rights and a several minute discussion? With all going on the world, i dont believe its a top flight issue. CNN obviously wanted to see these guys squirm. Also, I couldnt help of think of your post Jay several weeks ago. I want to like John McCain too.
I wish he wasnt such wienie on other issues.

"And the greater irony ... (Below threshold)
Rovin Author Profile Page:

"And the greater irony is that, in the long run, CNN isn't doing the Democrats any favors. By protecting them from the same kind of rigorous questioning that they inflicted on the Republicans, they set them up for failure when CNN can't control things as rigorously. On the other hand, the Republicans have already been tested, and know what sorts of things to expect."

Cooper and the CNN execs have to be patting themselves on the back for pulling their little "gotchas" with their implants, but just as Jay has pointed out here, most of the questions were "battle-tested" for future confrontations that the electorate will ask.

While the republican candidates have now wandered into "hostile" territory more than once, the fact that wussie democrats can't appear on a Fox News venue speaks volumes about the their own backbones/spinelessness to face tough questions. CNN's "personal faith" question that most of the candidates answered adequately will never be asked at a democrat debate because of the fear that they will alienate a strong contingent of their secular progressives that despise the fact that this nation was founded and developed on Christian principals. While many (even here at Wizbang) may care to debate this, the fact that an enormous block of voters across this nation believe in these principals cannot be ignored.

I would love to see the democrats squirm with even a generic question like "where do you stand on your personal faith principals when guiding your daily lives?".

Many will be looking forward to the day when the democrats (or the finalist) will be in a venue where they will have to answer the "tough" questions that may not be scripted like "what are your specific plans to protect this nation from being attacked again?" OR "do you plan to abolish the Patriot Act if elected?" OR "where do you stand on sancuary cities?" OR "can you promise to not raise taxes, if elected?" All of these are VALID questions, (IMHO)

I'm not so sure this will h... (Below threshold)
engineer:

I'm not so sure this will hurt the democrats in the long run. By the time the primaries are over, and the one on one Presidential debates start, look the democrats to try and pull a fast one. They will agree to three debates, one on CNN, one on MSNBC and one on FOX. After the CNN and MSNBC pro-democrat/anti-republican debates, they will site 'technical' or 'logistical' problems and cancel out on the FOX debate.

A commenter on Captain Ed M... (Below threshold)
Mike:

A commenter on Captain Ed Morrisey's blog also noted this post from Jason Coleman, who outs yet another CNN questioner, David McMillan, "... who asked why the Republican party doesn't attract more African-Americans to it's side." McMillan is an unabashed John Edwards fan. You'd think that after last week's "undecided voter" debacle, CNN would be a bit more careful and do at least some basic YouTube profile and Google searches of its questioners.

But the real irony is that Republicans agreed to the CNN/YouTube forum, while the Democrats made the termination of their Fox News debate a central issue in their campaign, claiming that "biased" Fox News reporters would ask "unfair" questions of the candidates.

In the pursuit of fairness, I would suggest a Fox/YouTube debate for the Democrat candidates, where all the questioners were declared supporters of at least one Republican candidate. But I'm not holding my breath.

Thew democrats really don't... (Below threshold)
DL:

Thew democrats really don't need testing -remember Hillary's listening tour, Rather's fake story, and John K still hasn't signed his 180 form. The media will control this election like never before. They have come out of the closet as the manipulating apparachnik leftists they are and no one really seems to care. Expect the worse this country has ever seen in this election and that's not referring to the candidates or parties.

Republicans will continue t... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Republicans will continue to go on all venues. Why? Because republicans are not afraid to have their views challenged. The democrats clearly are.

I am with buckeye. The candidate that gets my vote will concentrate to protecting me and my family and a strong stance on immigration/closing the borders.

I just saw a segment on the local news that they have stopped terrorists from coming across the mexican border. I was furious. The media should have been more concerned about this SIX years ago. ww

I agree with the idea that ... (Below threshold)

I agree with the idea that Republicans are getting the better out of these debates -- just look what happened to Hillary when one tough question slipped through at a debate. She had no idea how to handle a tough question. She doesn't have to face them.

The other night I was talking to a neighbor who lives in what I have heard referred to as an "echo chamber." The neighbors were gathered for drinks and conversation and he casually mentioned something about Al Gore and global warming. Everyone at the party erupted in laughter. To my amazement, this neighbor had NO IDEA that there was any controversy about global warming. He watches network news and reads the newspaper, and reads magazines like Time. The echo chamber of this life made him ignorant. He's a good guy though and I think he might discover some internet sites I pointed him to -- like this one.

A new conservative pecks at his enclosing shell, trying to find a way to the real world. It's an encouraging thought.

I think J.C. said it best:<... (Below threshold)
jp2:

I think J.C. said it best:

"Seriously- I can't even parody these lunatics anymore. I'll just leave you with this- it sure is fun watching the group that excoriated Hillary Clinton for planting friendly questioners in her appearances COMPLETELY freak out because CNN refused to make sure all the questioners in the debate last night were friendly to Republicans."

http://www.balloon-juice.com/?p=9198

And J.T. - is this your first shout out to Malkin? A step down, my friend.

That JC quote just shows wh... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

That JC quote just shows what Balloon Juice is all about these days.

First off, both times people were ticked off because they didn't name the questioners as what they were, Dem operatives.
Second, during the Dem debate they had unidentified Dem operatives ask questions, so during the GOP debate they had unidentified Dem operatives ask questions.

See the difference from what JC said? They didn't name them, go to Hot Air and see Allah's posts. He said they were often good questions, but they should have identified the people as Dem operatives.
And if they are going to have Dems ask questions of the GOP, why not have GOP operatives ask questions of Dems?

Balloon Juice, where reason goes to die.

JP2, so you think planting ... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

JP2, so you think planting questioners posing as normal folks is OK? Geez, excuse us rube conservatives for thinking it's pathetic and wrong.

How about honest and spontanious? Well, I guess you did mention the Clintons so we'll just have to settle for spontanious.

Rush is saying just what I ... (Below threshold)
Pretzel_Logic:

Rush is saying just what I pointed out. Silly questions and way too much on gay rights.

Republicans will continu... (Below threshold)
Brave Conservative Stalwart:

Republicans will continue to go on all venues. Why? Because republicans are not afraid to have their views challenged. The democrats clearly are.

I'm with you and Rovin, WildWillie. Those Republicans sure were courageous to face those deadly questions and the right blogosphere is equally brave to boldly expose these high tech charlatans who dared to pose such violent questions as "why doesn't the GOP attract more African-Americans to it's side?" And that retired general trying to cram his homosexual agenda down poor Duncan Hunter's throat? I can't believe Allahpundit thought that was a good question. I hate to say it because I used to be a big fan of his but lately I've been detecting signs he might be a islamosecularcommiefascist posing as a right winger. Romney's right, we really do need a double Gitmo. I submitted a youtube question asking the candidates if they supported waterboarding anyone who dares to question a GOP candidate in a way the right blogosphere doesn't like. Is it any surprise they didn't run it?

Seriously, I think the MSM ... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

Seriously, I think the MSM is aching for a front running Republican candidate to stumble over questions in the debate like Hillary did. Haven't they already annointed her as the nominee and does she not in turn believe she deserves the presidency? The Democrats and their media have already started the presidential campaign. The Republicans have not. It's just that the Democrats (ie, Hillary) are running against Bush for the time being until the Republicans tell them who their nominee will be.

Good points DaveD,... (Below threshold)
Rovin Author Profile Page:

Good points DaveD,

And don't forget Hillary is running for a "second term"

COMPLETELY freak out bec... (Below threshold)
Clay:

COMPLETELY freak out because CNN refused to make sure all the questioners in the debate last night were friendly to Republicans.

Time for some honesty. What would the dem reaction be to any GOP-friendly questions? Or worse, what would their reaction be to GOP operatives asking the questions? The fact that you are excusing your own candidates' poor behavior underscores the moral cannibalism that has infected the left. You leftists are sick. The diagnosis is that it's consumptive. We can only hope that it isn't communicable.

CNN, the most distrusted na... (Below threshold)
Willa Bundy:

CNN, the most distrusted name in news.

CNN, the most trusted na... (Below threshold)
Veeshir:

CNN, the most trusted name in news. (In Chappaqua,NY).

I guess that's Balloon Juic... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

I guess that's Balloon Juice's idea of fairness. Democrats get to ask questions of Democrats and Democrats get to ask questions of Republicans, and it's hypocritical of Republicans to complain.

Two weeks ago Edwards and O... (Below threshold)

Two weeks ago Edwards and Obama endured a CliNtoN staged informercial featuring Hillary(D) plants as post-MassDerbate "analysts" as well as Hillary campaigners planted as "undecided voters", per Doug Ross' roundup

A Democratic Party bigwig

An antiwar activist

A Union official

An Islamic leader

A Harry Reid staffer

A radical Chicano separatist

In other words... a representative sample of the (D)emocrat party.

Edwards and Obama remained tight-lipped because if they win the nomination over Hillary(D) these will be their partisan activist liars.

Last Night we endured jeering Ron Paulestinians in the audience and demonization of (R)epublicans by Youtube questioners portraying the party as the worst stereotypes of rural America posing questions crafted by (D)emocrat party activists up to, and including, a top Kerry campaigner, and current a member of Hillary Clinton's Gay Steering Committee, who was offered a soap-box by CNN to lecture and demand the (R)epublicans answer for a Clinton administration policy regarding Gays in the military.

Somebody should look Anderson Cooper right in the eye and say "I'm not asking and you don't have to tell"...

CliNtoN is not a news organization, they are an extension of the Hillary Clinton(D) campaign.

Cooper and the CNN execs... (Below threshold)
Proof:

Cooper and the CNN execs have to be patting themselves on the back for pulling their little "gotchas" with their implants

Implants?? As in: The biggest boobs can be found at CNN ???

The Clinton News Network re... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

The Clinton News Network redefined the Clinton era policy of "Don't ask, don't tell" last night by failing to do due diligence on the questioner from Hillery's GLBT steering commitee.

Once again proving that they are just an extension of the Clinton Campaign as this isn't the first time its happened.

Personally, I'd like to know what the percentage of Democrat plants is to actual Republican questioners as I didn't watch any of the debate. I'm also curious about the discussion they had afterwards. Were any of her 'former' associates there spinning talking points?

"Democrats get to ask quest... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"Democrats get to ask questions of Democrats and Democrats get to ask questions of Republicans, and it's hypocritical of Republicans to complain."

Which question wasn't fair? Malkin herself said this:

"the questions were almost all coherent and well-framed"

Again, which question wasn't fair?

"I submitted a youtube q... (Below threshold)

"I submitted a youtube question asking the candidates if they supported waterboarding anyone who dares to question a GOP candidate in a way the right blogosphere doesn't like."

Brave Conservative Stalwart, you really are a bit derranged. It wasn't the questions. It was the manner in which the whole thing was set up which led to the kinds of questions asked. It was the "Gee, we had no idea," response when the obvious is pointed out. It's the idea that Democrats are chosen to lead Democrat candidates into pre-scripted answers and that Democrats are chosen to challenge Republicans on another President's policies.

And jp2: I'm not a bit surprised that you would cheerlead that comment by "J.C.". CNN didn't "refuse to make sure all the questioners in the debate last night were friendly to Republicans". That's implying they were asked to or that it was even suggested or expected.

What we're saying is enough of this charade. You apparently don't care enough to hear your own candidates challenged so you don't have to try and defend them or their ideas.

Your commentary never fails to make me laugh.

Again, which question wa... (Below threshold)
Clay:

Again, which question wasn't fair?

Thanks for proving my point.

"Again, which question w... (Below threshold)
CJ:

"Again, which question wasn't fair?"

jp2, what the hell does "fair" mean? You could plant Republicans in a Democrat debate and their questions would be "fair." Wouldn't make it right though, would it? Would it?

Once again the (wing)nuts a... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Once again the (wing)nuts are whining and complaining and looking to shoot the messenger(s). For god's sake why don't you try discussing the issues. Oh, I forgot- you don't have any worth discussing.

But I do give you (wing)nuts kudos for perfecting the whine and the snivel. You have no competitors.

I'd love to be able to ask ... (Below threshold)
Extraneus:

I'd love to be able to ask a few questions at a Democrat debate, and I promise they'll be fair. In fact, I'll even promise to say I'm an undecided Democrat, if that's what it'll take.

The leftists see nothing wr... (Below threshold)

The leftists see nothing wrong with deceit, since their entire ideology is based on just that.

The problem with using people with easily-discovered agendas as purportedly independent voters asking questions is that the viewers are deceived. Again, the left wholeheartedly approves.

The result is that we get several minutes of discussion and three questions on gay issues, and NONE on energy policy or Iran, for example. But we get questions about black-on-black crime in Atlanta and a manned trip to Mars?

So the defects go far beyond the planted Democratic activists - whoever selected the questions are idiots who make a mockery of debate.

"But I do give you (win... (Below threshold)
Rovin Author Profile Page:

"But I do give you (wing)nuts kudos for perfecting the whine and the snivel. You have no competitors."

No, just millions ever since Dec 12th, 2000. And hence the creation of BDS. That's where a dems whine and snivel becomes contagious enough to be institutional.

By the way JFO, the stage h... (Below threshold)
Rovin Author Profile Page:

By the way JFO, the stage hands settled.....shouldn't you be somewhere else?

"You could plant Republican... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"You could plant Republicans in a Democrat debate and their questions would be "fair." Wouldn't make it right though, would it? Would it?"

Yes, it would. As long as the questions were appropriate. I'm pretty sure there were Republicans asking Democrats questions in the first youtube debate. (I'm thinking specifically of the gun-stroking guy)

As interesting as what was ... (Below threshold)
Rance:

As interesting as what was asked, and by whom, is what wasn't asked. I think it is possible that some of these questions have been missed in all of the debates.

This list is from the blog "Brilliant at Breakfast"
Nothing about health care.
Nothing about how long they plan to stay in Iraq.
Nothing about the impending attack on Iran.
Nothing about Middle East policy in general.
Nothing about energy policy.
Nothing about education.
Nothing about the mortgage mess.
And of course, nothing about how they would restore Constitutional law.

And the greater irony is th... (Below threshold)
Jabba the Tutt Author Profile Page:

And the greater irony is that, in the long run, CNN isn't doing the Democrats any favors. By protecting them from the same kind of rigorous questioning that they inflicted on the Republicans, they set them up for failure when CNN can't control things as rigorously.

Bingo! This applies to liberals across the board. For debates, Republicans ought to insist on longer form presentations. Liberals expose themselves for their hollowness, when they are forced to go beyond soundbites.

Rance, some of your list is... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Rance, some of your list is right on. But in actuality, to most Americans, the main issues are protecting us, and immigration. Republicans do not care what man is screwing another man. That is a democrat priority. ww

The real question is why on... (Below threshold)
COgirl:

The real question is why on earth did the Republicans debate on CNN anyway? Dems didn't hesitate to boycott Fox, seems like it would be ok for Republicans to return the favor to CNN.

NO... It's not the Clinton ... (Below threshold)
Zack:

NO... It's not the Clinton News Network...... It's the Crescent New Network! They forever changed From Communist News Network, when Christianne (suck up to terrorists, and bed radical Muslim dictators) Ammanpour did her little segment on radical religions.

It just so happens that the Arabism, Communism, Marxism and dishonesty converge on the floor of their Newsrooms. If they could plant Hugo Chavez, Mahmood Ahmadinejihad, and Che Guevera in the gootube debate, you bet your arse they would have done it.

I didn't watch the CNN deba... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I didn't watch the CNN debate because all of these debates are retarded, but I will pass this along.

Hey Mantis, why don't you g... (Below threshold)
Brave Conservative Stalwart:

Hey Mantis, why don't you go back over to Sadly, No! and get yourself a gay abortion? I hear they're having a special on them right now. You'll feel more at home amongst the islamosecularcommiefascists that post there anyhow.

I already had 3 online gay ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I already had 3 online gay abortions today. I'm really quite beat.

Keep on keepin on, BCS.

Outside of the blogosphere,... (Below threshold)
Stephen Johnson Author Profile Page:

Outside of the blogosphere, there has been little coverage of CNN's rigged "debate."

The MSM protects its own.

Ted Faturos (the corn subsi... (Below threshold)

Ted Faturos (the corn subsidy questioner) responds:

http://www.jasoncoleman.com/BlogArchives/2007/11/ted_faturos_responds.html

--Jason

Frankly, until the League o... (Below threshold)
mooster:

Frankly, until the League of Women Voters takes over staging the debates again, it's ALL bullshit. These things are set up and massaged to no end, and it's all phony. Just ignore it, unless you enjoy the theater of the thing.

"For god's sake why don'... (Below threshold)

"For god's sake why don't you try discussing the issues. Oh, I forgot- you don't have any worth discussing."

This from a guys whose MO is to pop in, engage in childish name-calling, say something ridiculous and leave. Now THAT'S theater.

Frankly, until the Leagu... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Frankly, until the League of Women Voters takes over staging the debates again, it's ALL bullshit. These things are set up and massaged to no end, and it's all phony. Just ignore it, unless you enjoy the theater of the thing.

I agree, but LGV only sponsored the presidential debates, not the primary debates. Those are, and always have been if I'm not mistaken, sponsored by the parties themselves.

Why anyone would watch a debate, or anything for that matter, on the cable news networks is beyond me.

Oops. LWV, not LGV.... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Oops. LWV, not LGV.

Lets not let the facts get ... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Lets not let the facts get in the way or anything Oyster. There have bee zero author posts about the substance of the debate. There have been roughly 100 comments complaining about CNN and I counted 2 about the substance of the debates.

Why? Well, because as I said, you have nothing worth discussing.




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