CNN's planted questions

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 19, 2007

There's been a lot of outrage in the blogosphere over the past few days as industrious, investigative bloggers discovered that all six of CNN's "undecided voters" weren't your average, everyday politically disinterested citizens.

In a nutshell, CNN's six "undecided voters" were:

A Democratic Party bigwig
An antiwar activist
A Union official
An Islamic leader
A Harry Reid staffer
A radical Chicano separatist

While it would've been nice for CNN to get less politically activist questioners, remember that that is a pretty good list of the composition of today's Democratic Party. And, after all, this is a Democrat primary election, not the general election. It's very possible that each of these people are undecided on for whom they will vote in the primary.

Republicans would, rightfully, rip CNN if any of these people were to be listed as an "undecided voter" and asked their slanted questions in a GOP primary debate. But would we really be outraged if some pro-life activist asked a tough question of Rudy Giuliani in a primary debate? Or is that something we should expect -- or demand? What about a former Sen. Bill Frist staffer asking a question? A small businessman? An Iraq war veteran and supporter of what we're doing there?

The only person who I really think was out-of-bounds for CNN to have asking a question was the silly "diamonds or pearls" UNLV student -- and not because she interned for Reid. She shouldn't have been asking a question because these were "undecided voters" and she isn't a U.S. citizen. (Yes, I know that non-citizens are a key Democratic constituency.)

Now, all of this changes once we're in the general election contest -- and this incident should serve as advanced notice to all major media organizations who will be sponsoring debates. In the general election, your "undecided voters" had darn well better be "undecided" and "voters." Everyone knows how to use OpenSecrets.org's donor lookup database -- you'd be well-advised to use it before the blogosphere does. You better run everyone's name through Google -- and a Lexis-Nexis search would be a good idea too -- to make sure that you're not getting some party hacks.

Every participant in the political process in this country is being scrutinized -- not just the candidates. The dinosaur media had better evolve and adapt, or it will die.

0 comments on “CNN's planted questions”

  1. [...] I defended CNN a couple weeks ago when it turned out that several of the “undecided voters” at the Democratic Debate were in fact political operatives of one sort or the other. While it would’ve been nice for CNN to get less politically activist questioners, remember that that is a pretty good list of the composition of today’s Democratic Party. And, after all, this is a Democrat primary election, not the general election. It’s very possible that each of these people are undecided on for whom they will vote in the primary. [...]

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