CNN ignored Boehner's "small price" comment after latching onto Kerry's "botched joke"

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER & NIKI JAGPAL

On The Situation Room, House Minority Leader John Boehner stated: "We need to continue our effort here [in Iraq] because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop Al Qaeda here, if we're able to stabilize the Middle East, it's not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids." CNN did not re-air Boehner's comments, or provide any discussion of the controversy that followed them. By contrast, CNN extensively covered Sen. John Kerry's October 30, 2006, statement -- which he later explained as a "botched joke" -- that, "Education, you know, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," and the controversy that followed.

On the September 12 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer asked, "How much longer will U.S. taxpayers have to shell out $2 billion a week or $3 billion a week as some now are suggesting the cost is going to endure? The loss in blood, the Americans who are killed every month, how much longer do you think this commitment, this military commitment is going to require?" House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) responded: "I think General [David] Petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. We're making success. We need to firm up those successes." He added: "We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop Al Qaeda here, if we're able to stabilize the Middle East, it's not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids."

Boehner's comments were first noted by Talking Points Memo blogger and media critic Greg Sargent, and numerous liberal blogs (including Think Progress and Daily Kos), as well as the Democratic National Committee, have also taken note. Additionally, in a September 13 post on the Huffington Post website, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) referred to Boehner's comment as a "stunningly cavalier statement about the lives of the young men and women who serve our country," and asked: "Where is Representative Boehner's apology?" However, between 5 p.m. ET September 12 and 1 p.m. ET September 13, CNN did not re-air Boehner's comments, or provide any discussion of the controversy surrounding his remarks.

By contrast, CNN extensively covered Kerry's statement -- which he later explained as a "botched joke" -- during an October 30, 2006, speech at a campaign rally in Pasadena, California that, "Education, you know, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," and the controversy that followed. CNN first reported Kerry's comments during the 11 a.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom on October 31, 2006. During the broadcast, guest Bill Bennett referred to Kerry's statement as "an extraordinary comment," and added: "What Kerry said is a disaster for John Kerry -- he'll never be president. I don't think he'll have a serious candidacy." CNN re-aired Kerry's comments during the noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. ET hours of news coverage, including commentary and discussion from anchors and guests.

As Media Matters for America documented (here, here, and here), the media frequently misrepresented Kerry's comment in the weeks following his October 30 speech. Kerry repeatedly said he was referring to President Bush's poor preparation for the war, not the education level of members of the U.S. military.

As Media Matters also documented, the media similarly largely ignored Boehner's comment on the November 1, 2006, edition of The Situation Room that "the generals on the ground," not former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, are to "blame for what's happening in Iraq," while covering Kerry's comments instead.

From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the September 12 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Mr. Leader, here's the question. How much longer will U.S. taxpayers have to shell out $2 billion a week or $3 billion a week as some now are suggesting the cost is going to endure? The loss in blood, the Americans who are killed every month, how much longer do you think this commitment, this military commitment is going to require?

BOEHNER: I think General Petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. We're making success. We need to firm up those successes. We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop Al Qaeda here, if we're able to stabilize the Middle East, it's not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.

This is a very important effort on the part of the United States to secure our national interests and to secure our security interests, especially when it comes to Al Qaeda, who has been our number one enemy here in Iraq.

BLITZER: Let me ask you a political question resulting from General Petraeus' testimony. A lot of the experts think he did, in fact, succeed in getting the president more time to continue this military operation, but a lot of the political experts are saying the Republicans should be careful what they wish for because if this continues with no real progress, with the Maliki government not taking the kinds of steps to come up and do what they need to do. By November of next year, this could cost Republicans big time in the elections not only for the White House but for the House and Senate as well.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
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