About that CNN Hit Piece on Michele Bachmann…

Ben Barrack

First of all, that CNN in general – Anderson Cooper in particular – is given any credibility is amazing in itself. CNN has a history of featuring dishonest flacks and news stories. Consider what Drew Griffin did to Walid Shoebat and Sarah Palin or what Sara Sidner reported from Gaza, or the Pallywood news footage that featured a large man faking an injury that Cooper was busted airing on his program and had to retract.

In the case of Sidner, she featured a news story that left viewers to believe that a Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli rocket fire. When it became apparent the boy had to have been killed by an errant Palestinian rocket, CNN’s Don Lemon issued a pseudo-retraction right before he went to… wait for it… Sara Sidner for an update.

At about the same time, Cooper had to issue a retraction for airing the footage of the large man faking an injury. It’s good he did so but c’mon, Palestinians staging scenes and passing it off as news is incredibly pervasive and none of it should be trusted, which would seem to indicate the retraction was issued only because the error was so egregiously obvious.

This brings us to the hit piece on Michele Bachmann this week by Cooper and Dana Bash, which focused on aspects of Bachmann’s CPAC speech that included examples of Barack Obama’s extravagant lifestyle as President. Cooper’s report began with a short clip of Bachmann demanding answers to the attacks in Benghazi, after which Cooper said CNN has been critical of Benghazi and then began to move on to the small portion of Bachmann’s speech about lavish White House spending.

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The items of interest for Cooper were Bachmann’s reference to a book that charged Obama as being the $1.4 Billion president. Examples provided were five chefs on Air Force One, two projectionists at the White House, and someone being paid to walk BO the dog. Cooper then proceeded to introduce reporter Dana Bash, who was almost apoplectic that she had to chase Bachmann down a hallway to ask her about the Congresswoman’s statements during the speech.

Roger Aronoff does a good job of dismantling the report by Cooper and Bash and exposes it for what it is – a hit piece. It’s quite apparent after reading it that Bachmann’s words were twisted to intentionally smear. By airing a clip of Bachmann’s comments on Benghazi and then saying CNN has been critical of the handling of Benghazi, Cooper asks viewers to accept the premise that he is balanced, objective, and without an agenda.

The premise is faulty. Whatever criticism CNN has had for Benghazi, the network has been nowhere near interested enough in getting to the truth and unless I’ve missed something, I don’t recall Bash chasing / badgering any administration official for answers, though I could be wrong. In any event, the attention given to a small part of a CPAC speech by a congresswoman could have been better spent doggedly pursuing answers to Benghazi, hey Dana?

The larger picture that CNN is obviously missing is the runaway spending, a $17 Trillion debt, and annual deficits the likes of which we’ve never seen. Focusing exclusively on Bachmann’s examples without seeming to care about those larger issues is also quite revealing. In fact, instead of doing so, perhaps Cooper could do his job and investigate why there IS so much spending and where all the money is going?

At the 5:00 mark, Cooper also makes reference to the Huma Abedin controversy, saying:

“Congresswoman Bachmann has made other claims that simply do not stand up as well, namely that Huma Abedin, a top adviser to then Secretary of State Clinton, may be under the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood. That allegation was found factually groundless, drew sharp criticism at the time from both sides of the aisle…”

Hey Anderson, how would you know? You never addressed the facts about Abedin’s familial background and actually aired news reports that defended her without exploring any of those facts. Ironically, while Cooper was dismissing Abedin’s connection to the Brotherhood, he aired B-roll of her actually talking to the president of the Muslim Brotherhood’s group in America – Mohamed Magid of the ISNA – at the 5:19 mark (though Magid not seen in the portion of the video that was aired during Cooper’s report).

As for the Bash-chasing-Bachmann footage that was shown shortly thereafter, Cooper and Bash were both amazed that Bachmann turned the question about Obama having a “dog walker” back on Bash, when it was Bachmann who brought it up. Actually, as Aronoff points out, Bachmann never said Obama hired a “dog walker”, only that someone is paid to walk it, which is true.

A central theme of the Tea Party that was formed in early 2009 was that its members were willing to defend neither Obama nor his predecessor, George W. Bush when it came to spending. Hindsight is 20/20 but Bachmann could have responded to Bash by reinforcing this sentiment, saying that both administrations have been responsible for our monstrous debt and irresponsible in mounting it, though it can’t be denied that Obama shifted the debt-mobile into overdrive. Bash and Cooper wanted to contrast the money spent on the Obama presidency with that of the Bush presidency.

The fact is that both were (and are) out of control. If only Cooper was as interested in that self-evident truth as he is in smearing a congresswoman who desperately wants to do something about it.

If CNN is effective at anything, it’s smearing those it wants to marginalize and aggressively running interference for those it wants to protect.


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