Sunday, December 2, 2007

Wurlitzer Prize for the Week Ending 12/1/07

The envelope, please... and the Wurlitzer goes to... the Cowardly News Network!

Ordinarily, we award the Mighty Wurlitzer prize to blatantly brain-numbing right-wing stupidity, bigotry, and falsehoods perpetrated by an individual wingnut -- past recipients like Rudy Giuliani or Ralph Peters of the New York Post. Every now and then, we have to look at the insidious encroachment of distortions, lies, misleading information, half-truths, and overt propaganda that infiltrate a mainstream press in giving preference to Republicans. GOP appeasers, if you will. So prepare yourself for an in-depth post on the subject covering the past few days.

This week we witnessed how a cable news network cowers, bends over and offers itself up to right-wing bullies who take full advantage. Yes, CNN, the Cowardly News Network, caved in to the threat of GOP opinion thugs who intimidated the news org to not only capitulate to wingnuttery, but also apologized and censored itself on behalf of the GOP. We've seen this kind of timidity before in CBS when the network threw Dan Rather under the bus over aWol's lack of TANG service records... still MIA.

On any given weekday, CNN subjects us to the shrieking harangue of Glenn Beck or the xenophobic conspiracy theorist rants of Lou Dobbs. But this week, the Cowardly News Network sunk to a new low in groveling for the GOP.

[Keep reading...]

During the Nov. 28 CNN/YouTube Republican debate [transcript], retired Brig. General Keith Kerr asked the GOP presidential contenders to address the question, "...why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians?"

Following the debate, wingnuts huffed and puffed -- It was a plant! A Hillary plant! -- claiming that the Clinton campaign was responsible for Kerr's question. Never mind that the General is gay himself and personally knows of the destructiveness of the gays in the military ban. And ignore that Fox News political field producer Jake Gibson talked with Kerr to confirm that the General ...

"was not contacted by the Clinton campaign to do this," had appeared at the debate without the prior knowledge of the campaign, and did not work for the Clinton campaign. Further, Gibson reported that Kerr told CNN that "he's done no work for the Clinton campaign" and that the Clinton campaign stated that Kerr "is not a campaign employee and was not acting on behalf of the campaign."
Fox News blog by Carl Cameron reiterated just hours after the debate that Kerr had "done no work for the Clinton campaign," was a member of the Log Cabin Republicans and spoke on behalf of himself. On the morning after, CNN's John Roberts interviewed Kerr and discovered that the General had made no campaign contributions to Hillary and actually had "supported several Republicans this fall." As for his role on Hillary Clinton's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender steering committee:
KERR: I have not done any work. Several friends asked me if I would allow my name to be listed and I agreed because she is such a strong advocate of gay and lesbian rights.
ROBERTS: So this really hasn't required anything on your part other than lending your name to it?
KERR: Correct.
ROBERTS: Now, did anyone from Hillary Clinton's campaign or from the steering economy or anyone else associated with a political organization put you up to the idea of asking this question?
KERR: Absolutely not. This was a private initiative on my own.
ROBERTS: So why did you want to ask this question?
KERR: I wanted to ask it because I wanted to focus attention on the damage that "don't ask, don't tell" currently does to our military readiness. Every day, the Department of Defense kicks out two or three talented gay or lesbian personnel. And we're talking about intelligence specialists, surgeons, nurses, doctors, 58 Arabic linguists since 9/11.
Kerr went on to explain, "As a matter of fact, I supported several Republicans this fall," one that involved a San Francisco fundraiser at which he contributed to the campaign. BTW, he's a registered independent.

So what did CNN do before they gathered the facts about the gay General? They deleted Kerr's question during the rebroadcast of the CNN/YouTube Republican debate in the wee hours of Nov. 29. Got that? They banned a legitimate question posed to Repub candidates on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy. What a bunch of fucking wussies. Can CNN spell, c-o-w-a-r-d-l-y?

Oh, but CNN didn't stop its backtracking by censoring itself. The executive producer of the debate, David Bohrman, also a SVP of CNN, issued an apology just after midnight on Nov. 29: "We regret this, and apologize to the Republican candidates. We never would have used the General's question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate." Unbelievable! And this from a news organization executive? You would think CNN would, you know, investigate further before apologizing for a question posed by a Log Cabin Republican who's supported several Republicans this fall. Can CNN grovel any lower?

Also during the Nov. 28 CNN/YouTube Republican debate, Tyler Overman from Memphis, TN asked, "I have a quick question for those of you who would call yourselves Christian conservatives. The death penalty, what would Jesus do?"

If you read through the debate transcript Gov. Huckabee never answered the question, WWJD? He talked about his challenge as a governor in administering the death penalty, oh, the agony of the decision, his support for it, and how he reconciles executing criminals with being pro-life. But not once did Huck address WWJD? Nada. When moderator Anderson Cooper pressed Huckabee for a direct answer, "Would Jesus support the death penalty?" Huckabee quipped, "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That's what Jesus would do." Slick, huh?

However, during the post-debate discussion, Anderson Cooper heaped platitudes upon Huckabee despite the fact the governor failed to answer the WWJD question. Media Matters (with emphasis):
Following the debate, Cooper asserted that Huckabee's reply was "certainly, probably one of the best answers you could possibly come up to, to that question" -- despite the fact that Huckabee, who has repeatedly invoked Jesus Christ and Christianity to explain his position on matters of public policy, did not answer Overman's question and Cooper's own follow-up.
While Huckabee -- who did not object during the debate to the "what would Jesus do" question -- did not say what he thought Jesus would do with regard to the death penalty, he routinely uses his faith and Jesus to talk about public policy matters.
More at the MM link. Can CNN ingratiate itself to Repubs any further?

Now that David Bohrman apologized to the Republicans for Brig. Gen. Kerr's question, what about an apology to the Democratic candidates? Always the watchdog, Media Matters documented the Republican "gotchas" during the July 23 CNN/YouTube Democratic debate: anticipation of the Republican debate, Bohrman reportedly pledged to weed out questions that "you might describe as Democratic 'gotchas' " from those asked of the Republican candidates. But as Media Matters also noted, CNN gave no indication that it applied that standard to the Democrats' debate and, indeed, selected possible Republican "gotchas" such as the following, in which the questioner echoed the enduring Republican myth that Democrats are taxers and spenders: "I'd like to know, if the Democrats come into office, are my taxes going to rise like usually they do when a Democrat gets into office?" The Boston Herald reported in a July 25 article that Bohrman said of the debate: "I think it worked. The questions were really good. The feeling and the energy of the program felt really good."
In addition to the question about taxes, the Democratic candidates were asked the following other possible Republican "gotchas" at the July 23 CNN/YouTube debate, as Media Matters for America documented:
• To all the candidates: Tell me your position on gun control, as myself and other Americans really want to know if our babies are safe. This is my baby, purchased under the 1994 gun ban.
• My question for all the candidates: How do we pull out now? And the follow-up: Are we watching the same blankin' war? I certainly wasn't a big fan of the invasion/liberation. It sickens me to hear about soldiers wounded and getting killed daily, not to mention innocent Iraqis, but how do we pull out now? Government's shaky; bombs daily.
Don't you think if we pulled out now that it would open it up for Iran and Syria, God knows who -- Russia -- how do we pull out now? And isn't it our responsibility to get these people up on their feet? I mean, do you leave a newborn baby to take care of himself? How do we pull out now?
• My question is for Mike Gravel. In one of the previous debates, you said something along the lines of, "The entire deaths of Vietnam died in vain."
How do you expect to win in a country where probably a pretty large chunk of the people voting disagree with that statement and might very well be offended by it? I'd like to know if you plan to defend that statement, or if you're just going to flip-flop. Thanks.
• I'm a proud serving member of the United States military. I'm serving overseas.
This question is to Senator Hillary Clinton. The Arab states, Muslim nations, believe its women as being second-class citizens. If you're president of the United States, how do you feel that you would be even be taken seriously by these states in any kind of talks, negotiations, or any other diplomatic relations? I feel that's a legitimate question.
At this date, David Bohrman has issued no apology to the Democrats. Laziness? Bias? Or just another day of the refs working over CNN to the benefit of the GOP?

Jamison Foser provides a comprehensive roundup of CNN's double standard if you have any doubts why the Cowardly News Network deserves this week's Wurlitzer. I'm sure the award will look befitting on CNN's mantelshelf in the space where once it displayed brass balls.

If there could be a Wurlitzer runner-up, the prize would go to the ever-obnoxious Queen of Wingnuttia, Michelle Malkin, for running around screaming to the ethers... "Da plant! Da plant! Da plant!"