CNN anchor Carol Costello questioned Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker's efforts to raise awareness of hunger in America, asking whether his decision to take the food-stamp challenge amounted to a publicity stunt. But Costello's own reporting on food insecurity sheds light on the need for greater public awareness, even as funding for supplemental food programs faces cuts during the final weeks of 2012.
In November, Booker announced that he would take the food-stamp challenge and live for one week on a food budget equal to that of a New Jersey resident on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. That came after a Twitter user challenged the mayor over the need for federal nutrition assistance. Booker's challenge began Monday and will last a week.
On Tuesday, CNN correspondent Alina Cho reported that Booker was taking the challenge to demonstrate the need for "deeper consideration" of Americans who rely on SNAP benefits and to "reduce the stigma" that often comes with reliance on the program. Costello questioned the long-term impact of Booker's campaign and asked whether it was "helpful or a pointless exercise."
Booker's challenge comes at a critical time for SNAP funding, as House Republicans push to reduce spending on the effective antipoverty program during year-end negotiations over broader spending cuts and the federal farm bill, which includes SNAP spending. Costello herself noted the push to cut SNAP funding during a discussion of the farm bill in September.
And, as Costello herself has demonstrated, public understanding of food insecurity and federal nutrition programs is often ill informed:
In questioning the effectiveness of Booker's efforts to raise awareness of this issue, Costello opined:
I'm not saying Booker is insincere. I'm just wondering what living for just a week in someone else's shoes really proves. It's not like the food stamp challenge hasn't been done before. The mayors of Philadelphia and Phoenix, even super chef Mario Batali have done it. What will it tell us that we don't already know? The talk back question for you today: is Cory Booker's food stamp challenge helpful or a pointless exercise?
Her own reporting on what Americans don't already know about food insecurity provides an answer.
Reports by major media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and CNN, are giving credence to Republicans' baseless attacks on Ambassador Susan Rice over statements she made in September appearances on Sunday morning political shows regarding an attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, Rice's remarks were based on the intelligence available at the time, and commentators from across the political spectrum agree that the attacks on Rice are inaccurate and driven by partisanship.
From the November 1 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom:
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CNN cited the Drudge Report to legitimize the false right-wing talking point that President Obama has gone on an apology tour, though numerous fact checkers, independent media analysts, and even CNN have denounced it as phony.
In a segment previewing tonight's presidential foreign policy debate, CNN host Carol Costello cited the Drudge Report and its "many pictures of President Obama supposedly bowing to foreign leaders" to bring up "this idea of an apology tour conducted by the president."
She then linked the fake apology meme with the Obama administration's reported talks with Iran on that country's nuclear program, and asked how both would figure in the debate.
In fact, as The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler noted, the apology tour "never happened." In giving the claim its highest false rating, "Pants on Fire," PolitiFact also called the charge "ridiculous." The Associated Press added: "Obama has not apologized for America" and concluded that "there has been no formal -- or informal -- apology."
During the segment, CNN contributor LZ Granderson pointed out that this is a phony political argument and noted that Republicans have repeatedly used this line to criticize Obama's foreign policy. Granderson said: "There's nothing in transcripts to suggest he apologized. They're just using this to try and make him look weak."
Addressing CNN contributor Will Cain, Costello countered: "Well, still, Will, I have heard Governor Romney say that line a million times, 'I will not apologize for America.' "
But as Kessler noted in his fact check, this is a lie that Romney refuses to abandon. "Despite earning Four Pinocchios for months, Romney keeps saying this," Kessler wrote.
Moreover, CNN itself has debunked it. When Republican Congressman Peter King trotted out the apology line on Starting Point, host Soledad O'Brien noted that this framing has been adopted by Republicans to criticize Obama. O'Brien went on to shoot down King's theory, pointing to the fact that FactCheck.org has found it baseless. King replied: "I don't care what FactCheck says."
Which raises the question: Despite earning Four Pinocchios, why is CNN legitimizing this?
Today CNN aired Newt Gingrich claiming that "the Obama administration is trying to use the EPA to cripple the development" of natural gas. CNN offered no pushback to this claim and instead turned to a farmer who has leased his land to a natural gas company and supports Mitt Romney to assess the impact of EPA regulations. But the Obama administration has embraced natural gas, and the EPA's air pollution and chemical disclosure rules have drawn praise from the industry for their restraint.
From CNN Newsroom:
Contrary to Gingrich's claims, the Obama administration has boosted natural gas development, including a major gas project on federal lands. The Environmental Protection Agency has just begun to regulate a process that is quickly spreading across many areas that have never before dealt with extensive drilling. As National Journal reported, "Obama directed the Interior Department to allow hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, under new rules that are not very different from a law that conservative Republican Gov. John Kasich just signed in Ohio."
The EPA issued a regulation to reduce emissions of smog-forming air pollution that even the right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial board praised for its "restraint." And the EPA proposed a rule that would require the gas industry to disclose chemicals used during fracking on public lands, but gave what the New York Times described as a "significant concession" to the industry by only requiring that companies reveal the composition of fracking fluids after drilling. The EPA also required that the gas industry reduce cancer-causing chemicals released during fracking, a rule that will also reduce the emissions of methane -- a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Bloomberg reported that several companies supported the rule, which could prevent a "backlash" that would shut down production.
If CNN is seeking to inform its audience about the energy policies of the presidential candidates, it should probably be turning to experts. And if CNN is seeking the human face of natural gas drilling, it might also want to talk to landowners who have been stuck with the bill after natural gas companies polluted their land.
From the November 30 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom:
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CNN just spent nearly 8 minutes on a segment about Don't Ask, Don't Tell and whether gays should be able to serve openly in the military. Incredibly, in all that time, CNN never once so much as alluded to the fact that the current policy is discriminatory.
Instead, they talked mostly about money and logistics, with CNN journalists repeatedly parroting the Republican non-sequitur that the current economic uncertainty makes this a bad time to allow gays to serve openly in the military.
Eight minutes, and they didn't once mention the fundamental question at hand.
You may recall a Media Matters video from May 20 highlighting some odd examples of journalistic excellence from some very unlikely sources. Some, of course, were from people you would have expected. Well, I'd like to present you with "Good News: Ten More Examples Of Journalistic Excellence":
Media figures have used President Obama's second overseas trip to Europe and the Middle East to stoke fears that he may be too close to the Muslim world or harbors a secret, anti-American agenda.
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Many in the media have proclaimed the GOP the winner in the "stimulus message war" over President Obama and congressional Democrats. But they often do so with no self-reflection or acknowledgment of their cohort's role in advancing the Republicans' side in the debate through the credulous repetition of falsehoods and other Republican talking points.
CNN's Carol Costello repeated without challenge a claim she called "effective Republican spin" -- that spending in the pending Democratic economic recovery bills is not stimulus. She did not point out what numerous economists have noted: that, as the Center for Economic and Policy Research's Dean Baker said, "[s]pending is stimulus. Any spending will generate jobs. It is that simple."
On The Situation Room, Carol Costello described Sen. John McCain as "pro-family," continuing a pattern on CNN of using phrases such as "pro-family," "family values," and "values" in describing conservatives, perpetuating the notion that only conservatives favor families and vote their values.
CNN's Carol Costello and Ed Henry, and Fox News' Brit Hume falsely suggested that only the Democratic members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved the committee's June 5 "Report on Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information." In addition to the committee's Democrats, Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe endorsed the report and stated that it "accomplished its primary objective."