By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
Who ever heard of a presidential primary debate or town hall meeting opening with a kiss on the cheek between the moderator and the frontrunner? It’s safe to say that didn’t happen between Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. And not just because he didn’t show up for Thursday night’s debate in Iowa.
But if you tuned in to the January 25 CNN Democratic town hall, you would have seen that kiss between the moderator Chris Cuomo, and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. And that was just for starters. The event featured softball after softball question in a continuous love-in for the candidates, but especially so for Mrs. Clinton. This was a far cry from the December CNN Republican debate.
Of course, the Cuomo family has a history of favoring Clinton. Chris Cuomo’s brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, recently helped introduce the former New York senator when she received a gun control award named after his father, Mario Cuomo, who had also served as New York governor. Governor Cuomo has also endorsed her presidential run.
So, with a moderator ready to play favorites, CNN abandoned all sense of objectivity.
“Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on Monday drew their sharpest contrasts yet in hard-hitting final pitches to Iowa voters as the competitive race to win the first in the nation caucuses enters its last week,” reported CNN on January 26. It doesn’t report that it had stacked the deck.
“Secretary Sanders—or, Clinton, sorry,” said student Brett Rosengren as he was about to ask the final question of the night. “I can see why they gave you this question,” he continued. “I just wanted to know which of our previous presidents has inspired you most and why.” Why they gave you this question? Who was the “they” he was referring to?
Rosengren later said that he had posed the question himself, and submitted it to CNN. But it was CNN that chose his question, and it was CNN who directed that it should be asked of Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or Martin O’Malley.
So CNN arranged easy questions for Hillary Clinton? What type, exactly, of town hall was this? This was, in reality, a stage-managed and produced love-in for Mrs. Clinton.
This is typical of how the left-wing, mainstream media abandon all impartiality and allow Democrats to answer supposedly spontaneous questions using teleprompters with predetermined answers. It’s reminiscent of the time that Democrat National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was caught reading an answer to a question off of a teleprompter during an appearance on MSNBC, when she butchered the world “misled” as “myzled” while on camera.
The orchestrated nature of these town halls, debates, and other appearances by the Democratic candidates exposes how the media have already made their choice for this year’s presidential election. All that is left is to ensure Hillary Clinton’s victory with as much endless cheerleading media promotion as possible, while ignoring her scandal-plagued career.
“Sec. Clinton, when you’re elected the next president of the United States, what will you say to Republican voters?” asked a member of the audience. Mrs. Clinton then led into an answer about how she wants “to be the president for everyone.”
Later, moderator Cuomo asked, “It makes them [Republicans] feel that, well, Secretary Clinton doesn’t like us. Why would she work with us?” Clinton’s answer devolved into a pronouncement that she would give Republicans “bear hugs whether they like it or not.”
CNN’s treatment of Sanders was equally superficial at times, with Cuomo asking him, “Do you think you are up to the whole job [of president]?” But Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks makes a strong case from the left that Sanders got much rougher treatment than Hillary.
It is Cuomo, and CNN, who are not up to the job of vetting the Democratic presidential candidates. However, the softballs from CNN were in sharp contrast to the hardball questions for the earlier Republican debate, with questions designed to cause the candidates to attack each other’s platforms. CNN queried the Republican candidates with questions that sometimes sounded more like accusations than debate openers.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Donald Trump in December, “Is the best way to make America great again to isolate it from much of the rest of the world?”
“Governor [Jeb] Bush, you called Mr. Trump ‘unhinged’ when he proposed banning non-American Muslims from the United States,” Blitzer also asked. “Why is that unhinged?”
In contrast, CNN dealt very gingerly with two Clinton scandals: Benghazi and her mishandling of classified materials on her unsecured email server.
The Benghazi scandal poses a major obstacle to Hillary Clinton’s election. Yet, instead of a cutting question delineating the high stakes, Mrs. Clinton was asked by an audience member, “So, how are you planning on dealing with that [Benghazi issue] going forward, not only in the general election, but also if you became president working with Congress?”
This carefully phrased softball gave Mrs. Clinton an opening to blame Republicans for keeping the Benghazi issue alive. What is keeping the issue alive, however, is Mrs. Clinton’s and the administration’s stonewalling, preventing justice for the victims and accountability for an administration that blamed the attack on a YouTube video.
In her answer Clinton claimed that Democrats didn’t make the death of hundreds of American soldiers in Beirut (during the Reagan administration) a partisan issue, and that she had “put together an independent board to tell me as secretary of state what I needed to know and what we could do to fix it.”
The Accountability Review Board appointed by Clinton was far from independent, and failed to interview Secretary Clinton herself—despite her role in the administration’s decision to aid the al-Qaeda linked rebels in Libya, stymie the truce talks with Muammar Qaddafi, and refuse to properly secure the U.S. Special Mission Compound. In addition, she shares the responsibility for the dereliction of duty on the night of the attacks by failing to send available military assets to assist those who were fighting the jihadists, and for the decision to blame a YouTube video for the terror attack.
Yet even a question challenging Mrs. Clinton’s honesty was reworded as a question about supporter enthusiasm. “It feels like there is [sic] a lot of young people like myself who are very passionate supporters of Bernie Sanders,” asked audience member Taylor Gipple. “And, I just don’t see the same enthusiasm from younger people for you. In fact, I’ve heard from quite a few people my age that they think you’re dishonest, but I’d like to hear from you on why you feel the enthusiasm isn’t there.”
“Clinton tried to play the issue of millennials flocking to Sanders as a good thing, saying any kind of involvement in the election process is positive, but the truth is her campaign is starting to panic over a drop in poll numbers and Sanders’ domination in early states,” observed Katie Pavlich for Townhall on January 26.
Clinton’s email scandal has been one long drip, drip, drip of scandal exposing lie after lie. She took this opportunity to spin a number of the same falsehoods at the town hall. Cuomo asked Clinton about the timing of her apology for EmailGate, saying, “Yes, you apologized, but only when you needed to, not when you first could have. Fair criticism?”
Mrs. Clinton responded by falsely claiming, once again, that her unsecure server was set up so that she could conveniently use a single device. But, she insisted, “I’m not willing to say it was an error in judgment because what—nothing that I did was wrong.” That must be why the FBI has two ongoing investigations: one into her server and the other regarding possible public corruption.
Clinton should be apologizing not for the timing of her previous apology, but for allowing classified material, including Top Secret and Special Access Programs (SAP), on her private server where it was a sitting duck for hackers, and a genuine national security risk. And whether or not the material was marked classified at the time—which is how she defends herself—it was wrong and illegal.
But if mainstream media wishes were votes, Clinton would already have the presidency—no questions asked. There is a rotten double standard at CNN, and the rest of the mainstream media, which continue to ask hard-hitting questions of Republicans the likes of which they wouldn’t dare ask members of their favored party.