From my quick scan of the blogosphere this morning, I can see that the post-CNN debate questions and accusations are piling up. A surprising number of liberal blogs are complaining that the audience and the questions had a decidedly pro-Clinton stance. I’d say the evidence is stacking up in their favor.
Let’s take a look:
—- The last audience question of the debate was a cutesy question asked by UNLV student Maria Luisa, who asked Senator Clinton if she preferred diamonds or pearls (reminiscent of the MTV viewer question Bill Clinton was asked about boxers or briefs way back when he was running for president in 1992). Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic reported last night that Luisa had written on her MySpace page that she had been pushed into asking the question by CNN, and that the question she really wanted to ask Senator Clinton was about Yucca Mountain (h/t: Sweetness and Light via ST reader NC Cop). TPM delivers some clarity on what happened:
Specifically, a CNN spokesperson confirmed to me that the network chose that question and asked her to ask it.
But in the network’s defense the spokesperson also says that the girl wasn’t “forced” to ask it. She submitted the question in advance — it was her question — and voluntarily agreed to ask it. CNN selected the question and asked her towards the close of the debate if she wanted to ask it. She said yes.
As you may have heard by now, the girl said on her MySpace page that she was forced to ask this question and that she would have preferred to ask one about Yucca Mountain. She said this in response to the storm of criticism and ridicule the question has since received.
And it looks like the girl is right: Though she did submit the question, CNN did select it and ask her to pose it.
Hillary’s rivals are accusing CNN of going soft on the frontrunner, and they’re pointing to this question, among other things, as proof of this.
Here’s how the whole thing unfolded, according to the spokesperson. Questioners were told in advance that they didn’t want duplicate questions to be asked on topics that were already covered. The spokesperson argues that Yucca Mountain had already been discussed for some time as the debate wound down last night.
According to the spokesperson, as the debate drew to a close, CNN wanted to ask one last question. A CNN employee (it’s unclear who) asked the girl if she wanted to ask the “diamonds and pearls” question. She said yes.
A CNN official is already on record telling Marc Ambinder that she chose the question. But as the above makes clear, CNN’s spokesperson is confirming that the network in fact chose it.
—- Newsbusters’ Matthew Balan writes about how CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, who was moderator of the audience questions, tried to revise a question made by “undecided voter” LaShannon Spencer. Here’s how it went down:
CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, while moderating the second half of the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on Thursday night, added her own “two cents” to a question she fielded from an “undecided, ordinary voter.” After the voter asked the nominees what qualifications a Supreme Court nominee should possess, Malveaux directed the question to Senator Christopher Dodd, and added whether or not he would “require nominees to support abortion rights.”
But it gets even more interesting. Turns out there’s more to LaShannon Spencer than meets the eye. She was the political director of the Democrat party of Arkansas back in 2003 who had a fondess for the Clintons. An “ordinary” voter? I think not.
—- Complaints are also being levelled about the fact that “informal advisor to Mrs. Clinton” James Carville was one of the post-debate commentators, and that David Gergen, who was a Bill Clinton adviser when Bubba was president, was also one of the commentators.
—- Classical Values has even more on another “ordinary, undecided” voter and “random” questioner – Khalid Khan – who, it turns out, isn’t so ordinary either. Not only is he the president of the Islamic Society of Nevada, but he’s not a stranger to CNN. He asked a question about profiling, which wasn’t specifically Clinton-friendly, but it most certainly was Democrat-friendly, as it got them to play the anti-Bush anti-Patriot Act card, even though there is nothing about profiling in the Patriot Act, which Joe Biden helpfully pointed out.
All this from the “most trusted name in news.”
Bonus question: I wonder if the Democratic candidates who have complained about CNN’s Clinton bias will boycott CNN just like they are Fox News over their alleged “conservative bias”? After all, fair is fair …