There were many reasons to be disturbed by the CNN/YouTube debate on Wednesday night — the questions were repetitive and cliché, key concerns of Republican voters were not addressed and the crowd’s conduct ranged from rude to embarrassing as they booed and hissed like Romans at the Coliseum. But the most egregious aspect of the date was that the questioners were strewn with Democratic plants and supporters, none of whom identified their affiliations.
For an enterprising attorney, there is ample reason for considering whether CNN’s debate was an in kind donation to one of more Democratic candidates or the Democratic Party at large. Surely somewhere in McCain Feingold there must be a provision that applies to giving a free ad for one of the opposing party’s pet issues?
It is hard to believe that a network filled with investigative reporters could not determine in advance that the inquisitors were Democratic trolls visiting the debate not to elicit information but to embarrass and make speeches on behalf of liberal positions. Less than twenty four hours later four had been uncovered.
It was quickly discovered that Retired Brig. Gen. Keith H. Kerr, who asked the candidates a question about gays in the military, was a co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s National Military Veterans group. (He was also in a similar role for John Kerry.) Not only did he get to ask his question but he threw in a speech for good measure extolling the benefits of allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
But he was not alone. Michelle Malkin discovered no less than three other Democratic plants. A declared John Edwards supporter asked about abortion. The “concerned Log Cabin Republican” seems to be on the side of a Democrat- Barak Obama. The gal worried about lead in her children’s toys is an activist for John Edwards.
Just why should Democrats be asking questions at a Republican debate? Isn’t this supposed to be a means to help Republicans decide who should be their nominee? Or is it — as it apparently is to CNN — just a means of beating up on Republicans in advance of Hillary’s official campaign machine? Not that many years ago, CNN was known widely as the “Clinton News Network.” They apparently want to renew their credentials –or expand their services to the entire Democratic Party. This debate placed CNN in the role of director of Democratic media operations. Simply put, it is propaganda to represent the questioners as unbiased and unaffiliated voters when they are not.
CNN released a statement contending “We never would have used the general’s question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate.” If the defense is journalistic incompetence we would expect a further statement announcing names of fired employees. But I suspect it won’t be forthcoming. This seems to be an example of the old adage: “You’re not sorry you did it, just sorry you got caught.”
The question remains how to remedy CNN’s conduct. They apparently have rerun the debate without Hillary’s General but the other cast of Democratic contenders remained. It is difficult to devise a plan to level the playing field. Do they give James Bopp Jr, a Romney supporter, the chance to ask a partial birth abortion question at the next debate? What about Giuliani advisor Steve Forbes getting a shot to grill Hillary on her tax plans? But that would not be equal justice because viewers would see that the conservative questioners were from the opposing party and hostile to the candidate.
Perhaps the best solution would be to give free air time to each of the GOP contenders to discuss a burning issue of the day. The issue? Media bias. If that opportunity is not afforded , perhaps a Republican boycott of CNN.