The second presidential debate, moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley, featured a question and extended discussion on the potential reinstatement of an assault weapons ban. Previously, debate moderators in 2008 and Jim Lehrer of PBS' NewsHour, the moderator of the first presidential debate, had ignored the issue of gun violence prevention.
Introducing the town hall participant who asked the candidates what they would do to limit the availability of assault weapons, Crowley noted that the topic of gun violence is one "that we hear a lot, both over the Internet and from this crowd."
CROWLEY: Because what I -- what I want to do, Mr. President, stand there a second, because I want to introduce you to Nina Gonzalez, who brought up a question that we hear a lot, both over the Internet and from this crowd.
GONZALEZ: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?
CNN's Candy Crowley is giving cover to the Republican claim that businesses will not hire due to "uncertainty" over the implementation of the health care law, which has now been endorsed by all three branches of the federal government. In reality, the only uncertainty surrounding the law is being created by Republican threats to repeal it.
On State of the Union, Crowley aided National Republican Senatorial Committee Vice Chair Carly Fiorina's claim that uncertainty over Obamacare would continue to prevent companies from hiring. Crowley said, "And this has been part of the Republican mantra was that big business doesn't know where tax reform is going, they don't know how much new regulation is going to cost them, what kind of infrastructure they'll have to put into their own -- so they're kind of sitting on all this money and not hiring."
By contrast, a June 28 Associated Press article noted that "the health industry -- and company stocks -- still face uncertainty, at least until the November's presidential election. Republicans want to scrap the law."
Furthermore, economists and small business owners say a lack of demand is holding back hiring, not uncertainty.
From the May 20 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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If I ever have children, I'll be able to tell them about the day in May 2012 when the President of the United States finally endorsed marriage equality. Unfortunately, I'll also be able to tell them that the leader of a hate group was given a prominent platform in the wake of the president's announcement to say on national television that same-sex marriage "runs counter to nature" and threatens "religious freedom," "the family," and "the education of our children."
In November 2010 the Southern Poverty Law Center determined that the Family Research Council (FRC) is an "anti-gay hate group" because it seeks to "defam[e] gays and lesbians" by making "false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science." Given FRC's record of spreading bogus information, it's risky for news organizations committed to accuracy to give FRC access to their audience. Nevertheless, FRC has repeatedly been presented as a legitimate and mainstream voice by every major cable news network.
Today both CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley and CBS' Face the Nation hosted FRC president Tony Perkins to comment on same-sex marriage and presidential politics. On CNN Perkins was balanced by ... Gary Bauer, another evangelical conservative who shares Perkins' anti-LGBT views. Perkins said that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a matter of "defending the family, the cornerstone of civilization," adding, "it's more than marriage. It's about the education of our children. It's about religious freedom. It's about public accommodations."
On Face The Nation, Perkins was outnumbered on the panel by those who support marriage equality, but he was never actually confronted about his group's record or the lack of evidence for his claims about dire consequences of same-sex marriages. Host Bob Schieffer did not challenge Perkins' claim that parents will "lose the right to determine what their children are taught in school. Religious organizations forced to recognize or allow their facilities to be used for weddings such as this." During the segment Perkins said we should "allow all sides to have the debate" and, addressing Schieffer, added, "I'm glad that's what you're doing here this morning."
By contrast, some media figures including a few of Crowley's colleagues at CNN, have apparently recognized the absurdity of dancing around the house of cards underlying Perkins' views. Just as history will not judge Perkins well, neither will it be kind to those in the news media who facilitated his struggle on behalf of discrimination.
From the April 22 edition of CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley:
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From the October 23 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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From the May 15 edition of CNN's State of the Union:
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CNN's Candy Crowley says people think President Obama is Muslim because he doesn't go to church regularly, like George Bush did:
The lack of any kind of evidence to the contrary, and by that I mean, the pre-- George Bush went to church, talked about Jesus Christ and God fairly regularly as you know. This president doesn't tend to do that. … I think we don't see him going to church, and so that may somehow stir up some thought like 'I don't really know what he is.'
And according to the AP, some "Pew analysts" agree:
Pew analysts attribute the findings to attacks by his opponents and Obama's limited attendance at religious services, particularly in contrast with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, whose worship was more public.
Where did people get the idea that George W. Bush regularly attended church? He didn't. Whatever the reason(s) for the widespread false belief that President Obama is Muslim, they aren't so innocuous as his infrequent church attendance.
Last year, some reporters wondered why Media Matters criticized them for reporting on the infrequency of Obama's church attendance without noting Bush's infrequent attendance. Maybe now they understand?
As Politico's Keach Hagey notes:
Candy Crowley, host of CNN's "State of the Union," thought the myth persisted because of "the lack of any kind of evidence to the contrary," noting that President George W. Bush was often seen going to church while Obama goes less often.
OK, one more point about Howard Kurtz's fact-checking segment yesterday. Earlier, Eric Boehlert noted that Kurtz seemed to go out of his way to find a reason to slap a Democrat on the wrists, and I showed that his "fact-checking" of Bill Clinton and Tim Geithner wasn't actually a fact-check. So how did Kurtz do with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell? Not well.
On the April 18 CNN broadcast of State of the Union With Candy Crowley, McConnell reiterated his contention that Senate financial reform legislation is "a bailout fund that sort of guarantees in perpetuity that we will be intervening once again to bail out these big firms."
Candy Crowley made a clunker of a claim in her profile of Sarah Palin on the April 11 edition of CNN's State of the Union. After noting that, as part of her "safe and lucrative" role as a Fox News commentator, Palin has "put her brand" on the show Real American Stories, Crowley said of the show: "The normal Fox News audience is reported to have doubled in the time slot."
While coming in first in its time period -- beating the Total Viewer average of the 10pm programs on MSNBC, CNN and HLN combined -- FNC's "Real American Stories with Sarah Palin" was down substantially versus the performance of "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" last Thursday as well as that program's Thursday average for the month of March. "Real American Stories" delivered 2.073 million Total Viewers and 472k A25-54 viewers, down 10% versus last Thursday among Total Viewers and down 28% in A25-54. For all Thursdays in March 2010, the "Stories" premiere was down 10% among Total Viewers and down 19% in A25-54.
Looking at quarter hour data, "Real American Stories" shed viewers from start to finish -- down 18% among Total Viewers (2.319mm vs. 1.895mm) and down 22% in A25-54 (533k vs. 418k) from the program's first to its final quarter hour.
Losing audience in the time slot is not the same as "doubling" it.
Lack of diversity on the all important Sunday morning political talk shows is nothing new. As Media Matters noted back in a 2007 report on the subject, "Not only are the Sunday morning talk shows on the broadcast networks dominated by conservative opinion and commentary, the four programs -- NBC's Meet the Press, ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday -- feature guest lists that are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male."
At the time of the report's release, not one of the Sunday shows was helmed by a woman or ethnic minority. How did the guests stack up? Not well at all.
Keep in mind, these programs help shape beltway conventional wisdom for the week to come and wield a disproportionate amount of influence over the political chattering class. The lack of a seat at the table for women and ethnic minorities spoke directly to the old boys club that has long dominated Washington politics and media.
The 2007 report didn't take into account the less influential Sunday morning political talk shows on cable networks like CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC but the results -- at least when it comes to hosts -- would have been much the same. All white. All men.
This year things have changed a bit.
In February when it was announced that long-time senior political correspondent Candy Crowley would be taking over as host for John King on CNN's State of the Union it was hard to find a story that didn't make prominent mention of her recent post-campaign weight loss.
It is one thing to be critical of Crowley's past work, just as we have been from time to time. It is quite another to fixate on her physical appearance. Asked about the subject, Crowley was quoted as saying, "Would I have gotten the job without having lost the weight? I don't know. That's an X factor... Does the refrigerator light stay on when you close the door? We'll never know." She went on to say, "I readily admit I'm not the most obvious pick, from a purely cosmetic point of view... I'm not going to argue that when you turn on the TV, you basically get young, blonde, thin women. This is changing."
I certainly hope it is changing but only time will tell.
Similarly, earlier this month word came down that CNN's Christiane Amanpour would be leaving the cable network to helm ABC's This Week - the first woman ever with full-time hosting duties on a broadcast network Sunday show.
Cue the back-biting and second guessing, much of it anonymous.
As Mediaite's Steve Krakauer noted:
Then there's CNN's John King who felt the need to throw out some questions about Amanpour's selection during a recent interview stating, "There are a lot of questions. Christiane does not have a lot of experience covering American politics and so how does she fit in on ABC on Sunday morning? I'll leave that to them to figure out. It is an interesting pick, it is an unorthodox choice, I think that's just self-evident...I'll watch how it plays out with everyone else."
Get that? There are lots of questions. She's not experienced covering American politics. But I'll leave ABC News to answer these questions...questions I've just thrown out to you like red meat to the media circus lions in my best impersonation of a Fox News chyron.
Regardless of what you think of these recent hirings, they are a long overdue step in the right-direction. Women and ethnic minorities bring a different world of experience to the table. They need not be booked solely for the purpose of discussing issues important to women and ethnic minorities as is far too often the case.
The Washington press corps is change averse. It's a stodgy, self-perpetuating, conventional wisdom driven world. It could use a little more, dare I say a great deal more, change.
With Candy Crowley set to take over CNN's Sunday State of the Union broadcast, let's take a moment to review some of her most memorable moments.
And the time Crowley claimed Democrats "message" was "we don't support the troops and we're not tough on national security."
That's the kind of track record that gets you a high-profile gig hosting a Sunday political talk show on CNN.
News came down over the weekend that Candy Crowley will replace John King as host of CNN's Sunday political talk show, State of the Union.
Few in The Village have taken to bolstering conventional wisdom at the expense of real, truth-seeking journalism like Crowley. It looks like she'll fit right in on Sunday mornings. After all, the all-important network political chat shows could use another host with a penchant for allowing glaringly false misinformation to go unchallenged.
More on Crowley, here.
Newsbusters' Matthew Balan complains:
CNN's Candy Crowley neglected to include sound bites from conservatives during a report about Sarah Palin on Tuesday's American Morning, other than from the former Alaska governor herself. While Crowley did acknowledge the widespread support that Palin has among conservative Republicans, she only used clips from moderate commentator David Frum, Democrat Bill Owens, and colleague Wolf Blitzer. [Emphasis added]
David Frum has worked as a speechwriter for George W. Bush, a senior fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute, and an editor for the right-wing editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. He has been an advisor to Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign and a contributing editor to National Review. He is a resident fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, and serves on the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He supported John McCain's presidential campaign, and has written books titled "Dead Right," "What's Right: The New Conservative Majority and the Remaking of America," "The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush," "Comeback: Conservatism that can win again." And he co-wrote a book with Richard Perle.
But Newsbusters' Matthew Balan says Frum isn't a conservative; he's a moderate, and that CNN's report therefore failed to fearture any soundbites from conservatives. Oh, except Sarah Palin.
Another, more sane, way to look at the report would be to say it featured clips of two conservatives, Frum and Palin, and only one progressive, Democrat Bill Owens.
Oh, and that Owens clip? Here it is, in its entirety:
CONGRESSMAN-ELECT BILL OWENS: Thank you very much.
Oh, the bias!