CNN Faces More Questions About Its Election Coverage

Photo credit: Josh Hallett via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Earlier this week, Frank Cannon pointed out the transparently biased way in which CNN has reported on the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s “super-predator” comments made during her time as First Lady. While CNN anchor Jake Tapper had brought them up earlier this year in an interview with Bernie Sanders, a CNN story this week said Donald Trump was “dredging up” the comments, not-so-subtly suggesting to readers that Clinton’s offensive remarks are no longer relevant — despite the fact CNN clearly felt otherwise only a few months ago.

Now, CNN is in even more hot water after media-watchers caught the network airing a Trump tweet with the word “crooked” edited out from in front of Clinton’s name. From The Hill:

In a continuing effort to cast doubt on his presidential opponent’s health, Trump called on Clinton to release her full medical records in a tweet Sunday night.

But when CNN reported the tweet on “CNN Newsroom” with anchor Jim Sciutto, a graphic of the tweet omitted the GOP nominee’s use of “Crooked” proceeding “Hillary.”

A story that updated Monday morning does include Trump’s tweet in its entirety.

A CNN spokesperson told The Hill that “the tweet should have been shown in its entirety.”

Was this simply an innocent mistake made amidst the rush of preparing a story to air? Continue Reading

Why I Can’t Stand CNN

Photo credit: Josh Hallett via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

I have written about why I can’t stand GOP operatives and why I can’t stand the mainstream media. Now I want to get more specific and name names. Here’s why I can’t stand CNN.

On Saturday, CNN ran a headline: “Donald Trump Dredges Up Clinton’s Use of ‘Super Predators’” Really? “Dredges Up”?

What a difference a few months can make. Back in April, CNN’s Jake Tapper brought up Hillary Clinton’s controversial comments to Bernie Sanders, all but begging for Sanders to go on the attack. Sanders declined, “Sorry, Jake, not gonna go there,” although he did eventually relent, “I think it had race connotations.”

Both Tapper and Trump have a point in “dredging up” these comments. Watch this clip of Hillary Clinton speaking on the campaign trail in 1996 for her husband, President Bill Clinton. The money quote comes at 0:58:

We also have to have an organized effort against gangs, just as in a previous generation we had an organized effort against the mob. We need to take these people on. They’re often connected to big drug cartels, they’re not just gangs of kids anymore. They’re often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel…

“Super-predators”? “These people”? “Bring them to heel”?

Imagine Donald Trump saying any of these things. The media — and especially CNN — would insist on weeks of coverage. Continue Reading

On the Tenth Day Before Christmas, the CNN Debate Gave to Me…

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The most keenly interesting element of the CNN GOP presidential debate was the clear split in sentiment among the candidates on how to handle the most pressing national security problem America confronts. They split between the tough doves, Cruz and Trump, massively leading in the polls, and five militant hawks, Bush, Rubio, Christie, Kasich, and Fiorina, who are lagging. And Dr. Carson, who talks like a dove but promises hawkish policy. Call him a partridge.

Most commentators focused on the social dynamics, such as Donald Trump’s very gallant praise for his most potent rival, Ted Cruz, as well as for his other rivals. And on the political dynamics, such as the commitment that Mr. Trump made to the Republican Party, withdrawing his threat to mount a third party run. Both were significant.

But neither were nearly as significant as the clear choice the candidates are giving voters on national security and defense policy.

On the main stage, Trump and Cruz, the two leading presidential contenders, plus Sen. Rand Paul, are taking a clear “Reagan Realist” stand for nonbelligerent strength — “peace through strength” in the phrase coined by Senator John F. Kennedy and appropriated, and featured, by Reagan. Trump, Cruz, and Paul — the three tough doves — rejected the “Forever War” and sending American troops back into the quagmire of the Middle East.

Note the anarchy caused by “regime change” that had been at the core of America’s intervention. Note how, as “nature abhors a vacuum,” the vacuum this created led to the rise of Daesh (i.e. Continue Reading

Who Won The Debate? The Voters Did. Also These 3 Contenders.

Photo credit: Teresa via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

I wanted to write a “winners/losers” post. That was my initial intention. But I didn’t come away from tonight’s debate thinking one candidate beat up on another. I didn’t end up caring about winners or losers.

Instead, I enjoyed the first serious, substantive debate on foreign policy of the 2016 election cycle. It was needed. It was critical. And it set the stage for major policy distinctions between the eventual Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton in the general election.

We have a real challenge ahead of us in the war on radical Islamic terrorism. How exactly will we wage that war? How will we defend our borders? How will we protect our civilians from domestic terror?

And how will we prosecute the war on terror overseas? Will we topple regimes and nation build? Will we arm rebel fighters who could one day turn those weapons against us?

These are all serious questions. Critical questions. Questions that will have an incredible impact on the future of the free world. Questions that I personally don’t know how to answer.

But tonight we heard serious answers to those questions. Serious policy proposals. Serious discussions.

And we heard a lot from three serious candidates: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump.

All three had great performances tonight. All three showed poise and conviction. And all three were able to demonstrate significant foreign policy differences from each other.

It’s still December. It’s early. There’s a lot of time left. Continue Reading

Watch Cruz in the Crossfire at Tonight’s CNN Debate

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

POLITICO is reporting that CNN executives are staging a “slugfest” for tonight:

Several campaign aides told POLITICO they expect CNN to begin the debate by pitting individual candidates against Trump – perhaps by asking if they condemn his controversial proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. The tactic would be designed to hook viewers from the get-go.

Maybe, but I expect the real drama is going to come from watching Marco Rubio and Donald Trump combine to try to land fatal blows on Ted Cruz, who has emerged as at least a co-front-runner in Iowa and has the money to sustain a long campaign if he emerges there as the winner.

A hint of what’s to come? After months of holding his punches against Cruz, who has been unfailingly polite to Trump in public (notwithstanding some gentle criticism to donors behind closed doors), Trump launched his all-out attack on Cruz: he lacks the “temperament” to be president, is widely disliked, and is a bit of a “maniac.”

Pot calling the kettle black? It may seem so, but part of Trump’s genius is that he can launch his narrative into the very media that hates him. Expect a rash of stories on how much fellow senators dislike Ted Cruz and why.

How will Cruz defend himself without sounding defensive, as Rubio did when Bush took a swing at him in a previous debate?

His response to Trump’s first punch was just brilliant, cheerfully tweeting the song “maniacs” from Flashdance to “goodhearted maniacs everywhere”:

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

What Trump Must Do at Tuesday’s Debate

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

This will be the first debate without Donald Trump as “The Inevitable.” What the past few weeks have shown us is that Ted Cruz has built an impressively solid ground game in Iowa (and elsewhere), that Marco Rubio hasn’t, and that Ben Carson — still a nice guy — is largely out of his depth. It has also shown us that Donald Trump cannot continue as “The Donald” without consequence. He has to choose between his personality and being Presidential, or the voters will do it for him.

Tuesday night for Trump will be about adapting. It will show us a lot about Trump the candidate: can he adapt to the new circumstances in Iowa and present his candidacy in a way that staunches the bleeding and shows potential to draw new converts to help him rise above his plateaued campaign? It will also show us much about Trump the man and whether his pride will survive a sudden second-tier status without the threat to take his ball and go home. For the record, I predict we will see a subdued and careful Trump, whose place at the podium will be as a seat at the bargaining table looking for a competitive advantage and living to fight another day.

For Cruz, Tuesday will be a test of his demeanor. Can he rise above the expected slings and arrows from all sides? If Trump goes ‘nuclear,’ can he turn it to his advantage and both deflect the blast while demonstrating classic statesmanship and Presidential demeanor? Continue Reading

Democratic Debate Attracts Less Than Half as Many Viewers as the GOP Debates

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CNN apparently got a ‘record-breaking’ viewership for the Democratic debate, with preliminary information suggesting 11 million households tuned in — or less than half that of the second GOP debate.

Yes we have Trump to thank for that.  But it is striking nonetheless to realize that, “The Republican rematch on CNN September 16 averaged more than 23 million viewers, essentially confirming that the GOP debates are the highest-rated new “show” of the fall TV season.”

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action. Continue Reading

Mr. Trump: Boycott the September Debate

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Do you remember?  February 23, 1980: George H. W. Bush had won the Iowa caucuses and now wanted a one-on-one debate with Reagan in order to solidify his status as the only alternative to Reagan.  But Ronald Reagan demanded the inclusion of four other candidates (John Anderson, Howard Baker, Robert Dole, Philip Crane) because they too were on the ballot, and he didn’t fear an open, inclusive, non-manipulated electoral process.  Also, he didn’t want the media dictating who Republicans got to consider as legitimate candidates.  The line of the evening was “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!” (Reagan speaking to Nashua Telegraph editor Jon Breen, moderator of the debate).  Reagan went on to win the New Hampshire primary three days later.

Mr. Trump: you, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio are the candidates in ascendance.  Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, and John Kasich remain contenders.  It is an outrage and a disservice to the Republican electorate that CNN intends to exclude Carly Fiorina from the September 16 debate, based on an absurd calculation which includes more national polls from before the previous debate than after.

This is self-evidently the media manipulating our nominating process.  And since the RNC won’t do anything, you have to.  Only you have the juice; only you can demand fairness by refusing to participate until things have been set right.  You are Ronald Reagan at this moment; you have paid for the microphone.

It isn’t just the media’s manipulation of who’s in and who’s out that needs fixing.  Continue Reading

Don’t Muzzle Carly

Photo credit: Joshua Pinho

CNN is hosting the next Republican presidential debate on September 16th, yet Carly Fiorina may not be permitted to participate. The candidates with the most momentum after the Fox News debate are Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. She should be in the CNN debate.

The reason she will likely be excluded is that most of the polls CNN is using to determine a candidate’s ranking were conducted before the first debate. But at this stage, those polls are irrelevant.

I can think of many reasons why CNN would not want an articulate, conservative woman on stage during prime time. But I have no idea why the Republican National Committee is going along with this.

I strongly recommend the RNC step in and address this situation.

Gary L. Bauer served in President Ronald Reagan’s administration for eight years, as Under Secretary of Education and as President Reagan’s Chief Domestic Policy Advisor. Continue Reading