CNN "screening" process

Michele Malkin:

IF any more political plants turn up at CNN's presidential debates, the cable-news network will have to merge with the Home and Garden channel.

At CNN's Democratic debate in Las Vegas two weeks back, moderator Wolf Blitzer introduced several citizen questioners as "ordinary people, undecided voters." But they later turned out to include a former Arkansas Democratic director of political affairs, the president of the Islamic Society of Nevada and a far left anti-war activist who'd been quoted in newspapers lambasting Harry Reid for his failure to pull out of Iraq.

Yet CNN failed to disclose those affiliations and activism during the broadcast.

Behold - the phony political foliage bloomed again at Wednesday night's much hyped CNN/YouTube GOP debate.

Oh, CNN did make careful note that Grover Norquist (who asked about his anti-tax pledge) is a Republican activist with Americans for Tax Reform. But somehow the network's layers and layers of fact-checkers missed several easily identified Democratic activists posing as ordinary, undecided citizens.

The tallest plant was a retired gay vet, one "Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr," who questioned - or rather, lectured - the candidates on video and in person about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that bans open gays from the military.

Funny. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was exactly the policy CNN adopted in not telling viewers that Kerr is a member of Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual- Transgender Americans for Hillary.

Sen. Clinton's campaign Web site features a press release announcing Kerr and other members of the committee in June. And a basic Web search turns up Kerr's past support as a member of a veterans' steering committee for the John Kerry for President campaign - and his prior appearance on CNN in December '03.


It appears that CNN's research on the back ground of the questioners focused on recent campaign contributions according to Howard Kurtz who tries to explain the screw ups.


Bohrman said network staffers, struck by Kerr's "very powerful" question, verified his military service and determined from federal records that he had made no campaign contributions. He said CNN never spoke to Kerr and had Google, which owns YouTube, bring the retired general and about a dozen other questioners to the debate because their videos were likely to be used, although no decision had been made.

That CNN thought it was a "very powerful" question demonstrates its bias. It is in fact not a very important question at all. Kerr's on career demonstrates how unimportant a question it is. The guy is a retired general. Maybe he could have enjoyed his lifestyle more if he could have been more open about, but the same could be said for heterosexual swingers whose advancement is impeded if they practice that lifestyle openly while in the military. Besides that, it is just not an important question for a presidential campaign. Gays are a small minority and gays who want to be in the military are an even smaller subset. As Kerr's career points out, they can achieve success in the military already.

CNN obviously needed to look beyond campaign contributions and call on the resources of YouTube's parent Google to find obvious affiliations that disproved assertions of being undecided.

David Limbaugh has more on the Clinton News Network. The Union-Leader and Rich Galen also hits CNN for its failures to disclose.

This Instapundit excerpt from a John fund report shows just how dedicated CNN was to the "screening" process. “We don’t investigate the background of people asking questions (by submitting video clips). It’s not our job,” The quote is from Anderson cooper before the debate. There is much more.


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