CNN anchor ignored "political analyst" Amy Holmes's Republican ties, failed to challenge her claim that "many" newly-elected House Dems "are pro-life"

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

CNN's T.J. Holmes identified guest Jenny Backus as a "Democratic strategist" but introduced fellow guest Amy Holmes only as a "political analyst," ignoring her Republican ties. T.J. Holmes also failed to challenge Amy Holmes's assertion that "many of the Democrats who were just elected, especially to the House," are socially conservative" and "pro-life"; in fact, only five of the newly elected Democrats who defeated Republican incumbents or have been elected to open seats previously held by Republicans have identified themselves as "pro-life."

Introducing a discussion of the political aftermath of the midterm elections during the November 12 edition of CNN Sunday Morning, anchor T.J. Holmes identified guest Jenny Backus as a "Democratic strategist" but ignored the Republican ties of fellow guest Amy Holmes, introducing her only as a "political analyst." During the discussion, the onscreen text also labeled Backus a "Democratic strategist" and Holmes a "political analyst." In fact, just four days prior, during CNN's election coverage in the early morning hours of November 8, CNN anchor Larry King noted that Amy Holmes is a "Republican strategist and former speechwriter for outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist."

Further, T.J. Holmes failed to challenge Amy Holmes's assertion that "many of the Democrats who were just elected, especially to the House," are "socially conservative" and "pro-life." All 435 House seats were up for election, but assuming Holmes was referring to the 28 Democrats who have, to date, defeated Republican incumbents or have been elected to open seats previously held by Republicans, only five of those candidates have identified themselves as "pro-life." A Media Matters for America survey of 27 of those candidates found that they all agree on a core set of issues, including raising the minimum wage, changing course in Iraq, and protecting Social Security. The Media Matters survey examined the policy positions of 27 Democratic House candidates, who as of November 8 had won previously held Republican seats. Later on November 8, Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District incumbent Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R) conceded to his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. According to his campaign website, Murphy is pro-choice, supports federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, supports raising the minimum wage, and has vowed to protect Social Security.

From the November 12 edition of CNN Sunday Morning:

T.J. HOLMES: Well, what a heck of a political week we've been having here. The Democrats steamrolled over the Republicans, taking control over of both the House and the Senate in the midterm elections. Then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld became a casualty of the victory. He is going to be stepping down, and President Bush nominated former CIA chief Robert Gates to take over the job and help shape Iraq war policy. Now, the president's future? A Newsweek poll shows a whopping 66 percent of Americans don't think President Bush will be able to get much done during his final two years in office.

So, with all that said, what's next? Joining us this morning, political analyst Amy Holmes, no relation, and Democratic strategist Jenny Backus.

[...]

BACKUS: There's nothing like being out of power that forms unity, and we've been in the wilderness politically for a couple of years now, and we have a great advantage. We have two very good leaders leading our party. Nancy Pelosi really has proven that she is a pragmatic consensus-builder. She has sent strong messages to both wings of the party saying, "Look, we've got to get stuff done." And if you take just a look at the political map, Democrats won some seats in some places like Kansas or North Carolina where you normally wouldn't think Democrats would win. So, we have a mandate to get stuff done. I think the party is unified to work together. From Iraq to the economy, the American people do not like where the Republican Congress have taken us.

T.J. HOLMES: All right, well --

AMY HOLMES: I'd have to say, I think, that's a pretty rosy spin. If you look at the Democrats who were just elected, especially to the House, many of them are socially conservative; they're pro-life, pro-guns, anti-tax. And there was a great quote in the New York Times this week by Harry Mitchell, who's the congressman who defeated J.D. Hayworth in Arizona, and he said that he can't be a rabid partisan Democrat and be able to represent that district. So, you're going to see fracturing on the Democratic side as they try to move forward with what we hope is a moderate agenda.

T.J. HOLMES: All right, just 24 hours, you think, huh? That's all we got left?

BACKUS: Ah, she's too cynical.

From the November 8 edition of CNN's Larry King Live:

KING: Welcome back to our special election night, now election morning, coverage. I'm Larry King in Los Angeles. In a minute, we'll talk with David Gergen of U.S. News & World Report; Amy Holmes, the Republican strategist; and Arianna Huffington, the founder and editor of huffingtonpost.com, a syndicated columnist.

[...]

KING: Amy Holmes is the Republican strategist and former speechwriter for outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

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