Leading up to the successful rules change in the Senate to require a simple majority vote on presidential nominees, CNN gave air time to a number of right-wing myths about the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, among them that the court is ideologically balanced and that Senate Democrats' decision to embrace the "nuclear option" could make the Senate even more volatile in the future.
On November 21, in response to Republicans' blanket filibustering of President Barack Obama's judicial and executive nominees, Democrats reformed the rules of the Senate (a common practice) to prevent this unprecedented abuse of the filibuster. While reporting on this new rule that will restore up-or-down votes for the backlog of highly-qualified and mainstream nominees, CNN unfortunately repeated right-wing media myths on filibuster reform and the D.C. Circuit. Before the final vote, CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash initially minimized the unprecedented obstructionism on the part of Republicans, saying that a rule change could make the legislative body "even more partisan" should the GOP regain a majority in the Senate down the road. Bash went on to say that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was considering the so-called "nuclear option" because he wanted "to make a political point," ignoring that the mass filibusters have threatened to grind agencies to a halt:
BASH: What [the "nuclear option"] means in layman's terms is that it could be even more partisan on Capitol Hill, if you can imagine that, than it is now. The reason that the Democratic leader is going to seek to change the rules is because they're very frustrated with the fact that Republicans have been holding up the president's nominees. Let's just take a step back and talk about what we're discussing. ... [T]he current rules allow the minority to filibuster, and it requires 60 votes to overcome the filibuster. What this rule change would do, would effectively take away the minority's rights on most of the president's nominees for the executive branch and also for the bench, except for the Supreme Court.
Now you might ask well if this is the case why don't people in the majority, parties in the majority change the rules all the time? The reason is, there's a reason it's called the nuclear option, it is because institutionally, both parties have this sort of an understanding that they may be in the majority now but they could be in the minority tomorrow and part of the beauty of the Senate, in the Senate rules at least for the past few decades, has been that minority rights are pretty strong, as opposed to the House and so the respect for that has made it, made the leaders in both parties reluctant to change the rules, but Harry Reid has gotten so fed up and wants to make a political point right now and so it looks like it might happen today.
Although Bash appears to agree with the idea that it's increasingly likely that Senate Republicans will change procedural rules in the future now that Democrats have reformed the rules, her assertion that the "nuclear option" would make Washington "even more partisan" ignores the hyper-partisan maneuvers Senate Republicans have already employed. It is precisely because Senate Republicans have engaged in such partisanship that Democrats were forced to consider a rule change. In just the last few weeks, Republicans have topped off their historic streak of mindless filibustering by blocking three D.C. Circuit nominees in a row -- and not because they have qualms about their qualifications.
Reporting that House Republicans are investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress during his recent testimony about Justice Department seizures of communications records in connection with a national security leak investigation, CNN's Dana Bash misstated key facts of the controversy. In so doing, CNN helped bolster the hollow claims of Republicans -- wildly hyped by Fox News -- that Holder may have perjured himself.
On May 15, Holder appeared before Congress to answer questions about the revelation that the Department of Justice had seized phones records from the Associated Press covering a two-month period and had done so without notifying the news organization. The seizure was part of an investigation of the leak of classified information published by the wire service.
During the hearing, Holder was asked if prosecutors could charge journalists with a crime if they published leaked material.
Holder said that was a bad idea: "With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material - that is not something I've ever been involved in, heard of, would think would be wise policy." [Emphasis added.]
Since then, it was revealed that Fox News' James Rosen had been described as "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" in a 2010 FBI affidavit in support of warrant seeking permission to look through the reporter's phone records as well as the contents of his personal email account. The FBI was looking for correspondences with then-State Department security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who has been charged with leaking classified information to Rosen about North Korea in 2009. Holder approved of the warrant request. (Rosen was never charged with a crime.)
Using his May 15 testimony, Republicans and Fox hosts have pounced, claiming Holder contradicted himself.
As CNN explained it (emphasis added):
Though he testified in a May 15 Congressional hearing that he's "never heard of" the press being potentially charged for obtaining leaked material, it has since been reported that he signed off on the Justice Department's decision to seek a search warrant in 2010 for Fox News reporter James Rosen's private e-mails as part of a leak probe.
That was CNN's first mistake: In the Congressional testimony cited, Holder did not address the idea of charging reporters with a crime for "obtaining leaked material," as CNN suggested in its report. Instead, Holder said he had never been involved with potentially charging a reporter for "the disclosure of material." (i.e. Obtaining and disclosing materials are two different acts.)
CNN's Dana Bash did not challenge Rep. John Boehner's false suggestion that the health care reform bill being considered by the House contains a tax on all small businesses. Nor did she challenge Boehner's claim that Democrats are proposing to "nationaliz[e] our health care system here."
Despite passage of health care reform bills in House and Senate committees and the endorsement by major medical organizations of congressional Democrats' reform efforts, numerous television pundits have suggested that President Obama's health care plan is in serious jeopardy.
CNN.com reported that Republicans are using "accounts from Canada to warn against government involvement in the health care system" without noting that Democrats have ruled out moving toward a Canadian-style system.
From the June 25 edition of CNN's American Morning:
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Numerous media figures have adopted language reflecting gender and racial stereotypes in reporting about Sonia Sotomayor's temperament and intellect, in many instances relying on anonymous characterizations in Jeffrey Rosen's New Republic piece on Sotomayor.
Dana Bash mischaracterized Leon Panetta's response to Nancy Pelosi's allegation that during secret briefings in 2002 and 2003, the CIA had misled her about its use of waterboarding.
In a CNN.com article, Dana Bash reported that Republicans "trying to return to their small government roots" are "opposing Obama's economic prescriptions." But Bash did not mention that several economists say increased government spending -- as opposed to a return to "small government roots" -- is the necessary "economic prescription" during a recession.
Following the release of President Obama's proposal for the fiscal year 2010 budget, media figures and outlets have promoted a number of myths and falsehoods related to the proposal.
Numerous media outlets and personalities have claimed or suggested that given the size of the current and projected U.S. federal debt, the Obama administration's health-care reform proposal is untenable, but did not address the administration's argument that health-care reform is essential to the long-term economic health of the country.
CNN correspondent Brianna Keilar, along with several other CNN correspondents and hosts and instances of CNN on-screen text, described Timothy Geithner's proposal for Congress to pass legislation allowing the federal government to take over failing nonbank financial institutions as "unprecedented." In fact, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and FDIC chairman Sheila Bair -- both Bush appointees -- stated in 2008 that the federal government needed and should have such power.
In reports on the budget blueprint offered by House Republicans, CNN did not note that the plan includes a proposal to give the federal government authority to take over failing nonbank financial institutions -- a proposal similar to one presented by Tim Geithner, for which he was sharply criticized by those same House Republicans.
On The Situation Room, Dana Bash falsely claimed that "a clause" of the economic recovery act "effectively made sure that the contracts that were in place for the past couple of years with companies like AIG -- why those had to stay in place and why AIG had to give the bonuses." In fact, the relevant provision in the recovery bill actually restricted the ability of companies receiving funds under the act to award bonuses in the future; it did not mandate that AIG -- or any other companies -- pay bonuses.
On State of the Union, Dana Bash remarked that the Obama administration has "got a big problem on their hands because if they -- if the president really thinks he's gonna stand up and say, 'No earmarks,' the Senate majority leader and other Democrats said, 'Uh-uh. That's the way we do business, and that's the way it's gonna stay.' " King replied, "They like their earmarks." But while Bash and King have both previously noted that Republicans requested many of the earmarks in the bill, neither gave any indication during the discussion that they did so.