August 14, 2006
Rolando H. Santos
Executive Vice President and General Manager, CNN Headline News
One CNN Center
Atlanta, GA 30348
Dear Messrs. Klein and Santos:
I am writing to express my great concern over an incident that occurred on your network Friday, August 11, 2006. As the Think Progress weblog noted, during a discussion on CNN Headline News of the recent Connecticut Senate Democratic primary won by Ned Lamont, anchor Chuck Roberts asked: "Might some argue, as some have, that Lamont is the Al Qaeda candidate?"
One expects to hear this kind of hyperbolic rhetoric -- which also perfectly plays into the Republican Party's baseless smears of Democrats as soft on national security -- coming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, or Michael Savage. CNN, however, is supposed to be a legitimate news organization.
Mr. Roberts might have a defense if it were actually the case that people were calling Mr. Lamont "the Al Qaeda candidate." But as Arianna Huffington pointed out on CNN's own Reliable Sources yesterday, the smear appears to be entirely the creation of Mr. Roberts. We note that Mr. Lamont's opposition to the Iraq war is shared by a majority of the American people; we hope it is not common practice among CNN anchors to refer to most Americans as Al Qaeda sympathizers.
I presume you have a sincere commitment to responsible journalism and accountability within your news organization. We at Media Matters for America, along with your viewers, would like to know what action you intend to take in response to this incident. Will CNN be issuing a retraction? Will Mr. Roberts be offering Mr. Lamont an on-air apology? Will some disciplinary action be taken against Mr. Roberts?
We eagerly await your response.
President and CEO
Media Matters for America