CNN panelists adopted a framework identical to a Republican attack on Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, going so far as to argue that Grimes' recent comments could play into the hands of her Republican critics without once mentioning the actual Republican attacks on Grimes that were already underway.
Huffington Post associate editor Igor Bobic reported on July 30 that Grimes "drew attention" earlier this week when the Kentucky Democrat suggested that Israel's Iron Dome defense system helped Israel resist Hamas forces trying to tunnel into Israel. CNN host John King introduced a discussion on the topic by claiming that first-time national candidates like Grimes have to "head the test on foreign policy." During the discussion, Associated Press political reporter Julie Pace cautioned that the comments could help Grimes' opponent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
PACE: [E]xperience has been one of the things that McConnell's campaign has been going after with her, and this might play into that.
What the CNN panelists never mentioned is that Republican campaign operatives were already attacking Grimes with the exact same framework that formed the basis of the CNN discussion.
"Alison Lundergan Grimes has embarrassed herself again," the National Republican Senatorial Committe charged in a statement put out before the CNN segment aired, "A year into her lackluster campaign and she still isn't prepared to discuss foreign policy issues." Even the Washington Times connected Republican elected officials to the attacks on Grimes.
In a statement responding to Republican attacks, Grimes explained her comments on the Iron Dome and its role in Israel's defense:
GRIMES:The Iron Dome is an integral part of Israel's defense system which allows them to defend themselves against missiles and focus their efforts on eradicating the terrorists who try to tunnel their way in.
Given that Grimes was forced to respond to GOP attacks, it's not surprising that CNN highlighted the dust up. In fact, panelist Ron Fournier, to his credit, referenced the campaign's explanation and called it a "sophisticated argument" about the Iron Dome's role in Israel's defense infrastructure.
But it's troubling that an entire CNN discussion echoed a Republican attack without ever reporting that Republicans were using the same framework to criticize Grimes.