Sorry... One More

Tim Rutton hits all the points against CNN squarely.

So, why did CNN make immigration the keystone of this debate? What standard dictated the decision to give that much time to an issue so remote from the majority of voters' concerns? The answer is that CNN's most popular news-oriented personality, Lou Dobbs, has made opposition to illegal immigration and free trade the centerpiece of his neonativist/neopopulist platform. In fact, Dobbs led into Wednesday's debate with a good solid dose of immigrant bashing. His network is in a desperate ratings battle with Fox News and, in a critical prime-time slot, with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. So, what's good for Dobbs is good for CNN.

In other words, CNN intentionally directed the Republicans' debate to advance its own interests. Make immigration a bigger issue and you've made a bigger audience for Dobbs.

That's corruption, and it's why the Republican candidates had to spend more than half an hour "debating" an issue on which their differences are essentially marginal -- and, more important, why GOP voters had to sit and wait, mostly in vain, for the issues that really concern them to be discussed. That's particularly true because that same Pew poll reported findings of particular relevance to Republican voters, the vast majority of whom continue to support the war in Iraq.

Read the whole thing... if your stomach can take it.


Terry Cowgill

7:28 AM

This makes a lot more sense than that they knowingly selected the questioners just to embarrass the Republicans.

On a minor level, I often blog about stories that can be found in my own newspaper and link to them. Self-promotion to be sure, but I suppose it's to be expected from a corporate blog.

But for CNN to frame questions in a presidential debate around the marketing of one of its owns shows (if indeed that's what they did) goes way too far. Shame on them ...

Terry Cowgill


9:54 AM

I agree with both of you. And don't get me going on Lou Dobbs. When I worked on the psych unit, there was this occupational hazard: an urge to label people with psych diagnoses. The lot of us, including some of the shrinks were almost always way off the mark. But here's an educated guess about what Lou's problem might be. The guy is obsessed with this issue, and it appears to " border " on the pathological.

CNN reframing the debate that way just gives credence to those who argue they're pushing not news, but a whole separate reality. The very thing Frank Rich and others accuse the administration of doing.

One more reason why I'm watching more Travel Channel stuff. And, of course, ESPN.


10:47 AM

Keeping the psych angle on this, it reminds me of something my sister once said about my mom. Mom has one of the worst "engage brain before operating mouth" problems, and tends to say stuff off the top of her head before thinking how others will hear it. My sister was complaining about this a couple of years ago, and said something like, "Everyone has been saying for years that she can't help it, she is just made that way, etc., etc. But after a while, those excuses just wear a little bit thin. At some point, people have to be made to take responsibility for what they say and do, or they will just keep on alienating themselves from the world."

I think of this because year after year, people say that CNN and the MSM can't help that they are biased, that it is just a "liberal mind set" in the newsroom. That may be true. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. They are responsible for their product and need to be held accountable for what they produce.

According to this commentary from the LA Times (no right wing rag), there was more nefarious "corruption" on display. But even if there wasn't, there is no doubt that CNN wasn't acting like a responsible and honest broker in hosting the Republican debate. At worst they were shilling for Dobbs's book (the criticism that most Republicans are now focused on) But at a minimum, they are a bunch of lefty journalists and producers who see the world so totally from the left side of the political spectrum that Republican politics tom them is all about Guns, Gays and God. And any news organization who sees the Republican Party from such a cartoonish perspective has no place hosting a Republican presidential debate.