CNN has repeatedly failed to identify regular panelist Carly Fiorina as a member of the Romney campaign even while she offered analysis of the Democratic National Convention and the October 3 presidential debate. Other media outlets have noted Fiorina's Romney affiliation in their interviews with her. Fiorina has used her CNN appearances to boost Romney and attack President Obama with false and misleading Romney campaign talking points.
The Romney campaign announced Fiorina's support in a March 26 press release, in which Romney said he looks "forward to her counsel and advice." The following day, Romney named Fiorina as a chair of his California Leadership Team.
On August 8, Fiorina was named to the Women for Mitt National Advisory Board. Women for Mitt, according to chair Ann Romney, is tasked with "reach[ing] out to women voters." Fiorina headlined a Women for Mitt event in Huntersville, North Carolina on September 27.
Fiorina's own website notes that she co-chairs Romney's California campaign.
In a statement to Media Matters, CNN sought to downplay Fiorina's role in the Romney campaign:
Carly Fiorina is a Republican and a Romney supporter, and self identifies as such on the air. She is not being paid by the campaign, she is not a consultant for them, does not participate in their planning calls or advise them. She has never done an event with Romney. She did one "women for Mitt" event with a few dozen attendees. The "co-chair" of California is an honorary fundraising term, held by many others.
Fiorina's Romney association comes with the benefit of putting her name in the running for a possible cabinet position in a Romney administration. Politico reported on August 28 that Fiorina said it "would be a great honor" if she was made Romney's Treasury secretary. Fiorina also reportedly "didn't take her name out of the running when asked about that possibility" late last month. During an October 9 segment on The Situation Room, Fiorina delivered a commentary criticizing current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the Obama administration for having a "lack of ambition for this country and what it can and should do."
A CNN press release for its October 3 coverage of the presidential debate stated of Fiorina: "Chief political analyst Gloria Borger, senior political analyst David Gergen with CNN contributors James Carville, Alex Castellanos, Carly Fiorina and Van Jones, will be on deck with insightful analysis and political expertise throughout the night."
Fiorina also appeared as a panelist during CNN's coverage of the Democratic National Convention. She made further recent appearances on the September 3, September 4, September 5, September 6, October 3, and October 9 editions of The Situation Room.
Media Matters examined Fiorina's CNN appearances in September and October but did not find any disclosure of her role with the Romney campaign. Fiorina has been identified by CNN in a variety of ways on-air, including as a former Republican Senate candidate; former CEO of Hewlett-Packard; chair of the charity group Good360; and vice-chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Fiorina has been disclosed as a Romney official in appearances on other networks. For instance, George Stephanopoulos identified her as a "co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in California" during an April 29 appearance on ABC's This Week. She was also identified as a co-chair in a commentary piece posted online for This Week. CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo identified Fiorina as a "Romney adviser" during a September 14 interview. In another CNBC appearance, Fiorina's California position was noted on-screen.
Fiorina pushed tired falsehoods during her "insightful analysis" on CNN. Several of these falsehoods echoed Romney campaign talking points. For instance:
- Fiorina falsely claimed that "President Obama has done literally nothing about immigration." Romney has similarly claimed that Obama has done "nothing on immigration." [CNN, The Situation Room, 9/3/12]
- Fiorina falsely claimed that "it was Democrats who sat and stood in opposition to reining in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which helped create the mortgage crisis." [CNN, Special Coverage, 9/5/12]
- Fiorina claimed that Romney has been attacked with "clearly untrue ads from the Obama campaign that he's going to raise taxes on the middle class." The Romney campaign has also recently repeated this claim. However, the Tax Policy Center has released two different assessments of Romney's proposals which found that his plan would result in higher taxes for middle class Americans. [CNN, The Situation Room, 10/3/12]
- Fiorina claimed that "under President Obama, the debt has gone to $16 trillion -- he has racked up under his presidency more debt in a single term than every president combined before him." This debt talking point has been used frequently by the Romney campaign and Women for Mitt. But most new federal debt stems from policies initiated prior to Obama's presidency. [CNN, The Situation Room, 10/3/12]
- Fiorina claimed that "by the time President Barack Obama was inaugurated, the recession, we now know from the data, was over. In other words, the worst was over before Obama was in office." Fiorina's claim is dishonest: The economy reached official recessionary status in December 2007, contracted during the first half of 2009, and the recession officially ended in June 2009. [CNN, Special Coverage, 10/3/12]
- Fiorina claimed that Romney had a "masterful" command of the issues during the debate, specifically citing his claim that President Obama has given "$90 billion in breaks to the green energy world." Romney's claim is highly misleading, as billions of that money went to energy efficiency measures and electric grid modernization. [CNN, Special Coverage, 10/3/12]
Additional reporting by Joe Strupp.