Blitzer failed to ID Matalin as Allen campaign adviser, even as she claimed that Democrats are "not going to win" Virginia Senate race

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

CNN's Wolf Blitzer again failed to identify a member of Sen. George Allen's campaign who spoke favorably of Allen; this time, Mary Matalin, who was identified as a "Republican Strategist," on-screen, while Blitzer called her an "informal adviser" to Dick Cheney and "close family friend" of the Cheneys. Blitzer also failed to challenge Matalin's repetition of the GOP smear that Nancy Pelosi has gone into hiding in the week before the midterm elections.

On the November 3 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer failed to identify Republican political strategist Mary Matalin as an adviser to the campaign of incumbent Republican Sen. George F. Allen in Virginia, even when Matalin asserted that Virginia is one of three Senate races that Democrats are "not going to win." Blitzer also did not challenge Matalin when she repeated the Republican smear that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) has dropped out of public view in the run-up to the November 7 midterm elections.

Blitzer identified Matalin as "I guess ... an informal adviser to the vice president, close family friend of the Cheneys." Onscreen text identified Matalin as a "Republican Strategist." But Chris Cillizza, editor of washingtonpost.com's politics weblog The Fix, wrote in an April 6 post that Matalin had "join[ed] Team Allen" to "oversee fundraising for the Allen Victory Committee. Funds raised for the state GOP will go to get-out-the-vote efforts, according to Allen chief of staff Dick Wadhams." On October 29, the Allen campaign issued a press release in which Matalin, who was identified as an "informal advisor to the Allen campaign," attacked Allen's Democratic opponent, former Navy Secretary James Webb.

During the interview with Blitzer, Matalin asserted: "For the Democrats to win the Senate, they'd have to win Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia. They're not going to win those states." Matalin was responding to a claim by Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report, that it is more likely Democrats will "win[] control of the United States Senate" than Republicans will maintain control. As Blitzer noted, the Virginia Senate race is "leaning -- slightly leaning Democrat." Most recent polls have shown Webb leading within the margin of error. In a Reuters/Zogby poll released November 2, with a margin of error +/- 4 points, Webb led Allen 45 percent to 44 percent; in a CNN poll with the same margin of error, released October 30, Webb led Allen 50 percent to 46 percent.

This is not the first time that CNN has failed to identify a member of Allen's campaign who spoke favorably of the senator or his campaign. As Media Matters for America noted, CNN national correspondent Bob Franken quoted Doug Jones, a teammate of Allen's on the University of Virginia football team, defending Allen against the charge that he has expressed racist views. CNN failed to identify Jones as a member of Allen's re-election campaign and Republican Party chairman in the Mount Vernon District of Fairfax County, Virginia.

Matalin also repeated the Republican smear that Pelosi is hiding in the run-up to the elections, asking, "Well, where is Nancy Pelosi, by the way? [Conservative radio host] Rush Limbaugh has put out an Amber Alert for her." As noted by the weblog Think Progress on November 2, Internet gossip Matt Drudge, in a posting that day on his website, "float[ed] a conspiracy theory that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has gone into hiding" in the days leading up to the elections. But as Think Progress noted, Pelosi appeared on November 1 at a campaign rally in San Francisco with former President Bill Clinton and was also interviewed by CNN, which aired portions of the interview that day. Media Matters has documented the trajectory of this GOP smear.

From the November 3 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: And joining us now from Washington, a good friend, Mary Matalin. I guess you're still an informal adviser to the vice president, close family friend of the Cheneys. Good to have you here, Mary.

MATALIN: Thanks, Wolf. Good to be here.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about this election. You're very good as a political strategist. You've been very accurate over the years. I've been listening to your predictions for many years. Here's what Stuart Rothenberg released last night in his Rothenberg Political Report. Among other things, he concluded, quote, "[W]e believe that state and national dynamics favor Democrats netting six seats and winning control of the United States Senate." You're shaking your head.

MATALIN: Well, I'm not a pundit. I'm an advocate. I'm a conservative, and I have been -- [White House senior adviser] Karl [Rove] and [Republican National Committee chairman] Ken [Mehlman] have sent me to most of these targeted states, and it just feels different on the ground. It looks different on the ground. The Dems -- for the Democrats to win the Senate, they'd have to win Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia. They're not going to win those states.

And we're going to pick up Maryland. [Maryland Republican Senate candidate Lt. Gov.] Michael Steele is just the MVP of this cycle. So, I don't see how they get here. It is true that it's a -- it's a difficult environment. You and I have been through lots of midterms together. The first one I went through was with Reagan in '82, and we lost 26 seats in the House. So, you know, the ebb and flow, it's a tough environment. We're going to hang on to the Senate; I think we're going to minimize our losses in the House.

BLITZER: He says, "leaning Democrat," right now -- Rothenberg. Not Tennessee; Tennessee clearly leaning Republican. But the other -- the other key battleground states -- Rhode Island, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, Montana, all leaning -- slightly leaning Democrat [sic], some more than others. And the assessment is that the Democrats will hold New Jersey and Maryland. You're not ready to throw in the towel yet.

[...]

BLITZER: Now that's the Senate. What about the House of Representatives? What's your bottom line as far as the 15 seats the Democrats need to become the majority in the House and Nancy Pelosi becoming the speaker of the House?

MATALIN: Well, where is Nancy Pelosi, by the way? ... [Conservative radio host] Rush Limbaugh has put out an Amber Alert for her.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Mary Matalin, Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
2006 Elections
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