Patterico's Pontifications


The Fix Was In at CNN

Filed under: 2008 Election,Media Bias — DRJ @ 8:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ

It looks like all six “undecided voters” who were called on to ask questions at CNN’s Democratic debate last Thursday night in Las Vegas weren’t undecided … and one may not even be a voter:

“CNN hits bottom and digs: All six questioners appear to be Democratic Party operatives. So much for “ordinary people, undecided voters”. To paraphrase Junior Soprano, CNN is so far up the DNC’s hind end, Howard Dean can taste hair gel.

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

Wow. This looks “rather” like a scandal.”

Details at the link.


66 Responses to “The Fix Was In at CNN”

  1. I think they mean “undecided” as to which democrat they’re going to vote for. The maria luisa thing looks weak.

    whitd (10527e)

  2. I think they mean “undecided” as to which democrat they’re going to vote for.

    Good one, whitd.

    DRJ (42ad54)

  3. “Good one, whitd.”

    Which makes sense right? Its a democratic primary. It would be erroneous to call a republican a “voter” in this context, because they can’t vote in the democratic primaries. At least i think they cant. Which means they have to talk to democrats.

    whitd (10527e)

  4. You were serious? Oh, whitd.

    DRJ (42ad54)

  5. Can’t a former state official from Arkansas be an “undecided voter” at a Democratic debate? Viewing her a potential Romney supporter is not reasonable.

    steve (6810ef)

  6. “You were serious? Oh, whitd.”

    You noticed that it was a democratic debate right? like, an internal democratic party thing. So it doesnt’ surprise me that they pick a cross section democratic interest groups that are undecided as to which democrat to choose. I didn’t see it, so I don’t know how they were pitched. Perhaps they should have made it clearer it was only democrats. Maybe they thought nobody would think a non-democrat qualifies as a “voter” here.

    Are you still scandalized now that you have this explanation? Did you think through that logic before you decided to be scandalized? How bout maria luisa, what do you think? You sold on that one?

    whitd (10527e)

  7. whitd is correct. Or were you expecting a bunch of Republicans to show up for a Democratic debate?
    The purpose of the debates is to help Democratic voters decide which candidate they support. To see people from groups which are important to the Democratic party should not be surprising. Would you be surprised if questioners at a Republican debate included an anti abortion activist, a FAIR tax supporter, and an opponent of environmental overregulation?

    Your complaint would make sense if this were a debate during the general election, or if one or more of the questioners were connected to a particular candidate–but they’re not (unless Harry Ried is secretly planning to run once he’s knocked off the current slate through devious ploys). But none of them seem to have committed to a particular candidate. It would in fact be strange if any of them were not politically active in some way, given the nature of the campaign (for primaries that are still a couple of months away).

    And if there is oppobrium, please reserve it for CNN.

    kishnevi (9da3b1)

  8. Is someone seriously trying to pretend these are joe average Democrats?

    jpm100 (b48b29)

  9. It seems I’ve been outvoted and it’s obvious “undecided voter” meant “undecided Democratic voter.” So let’s consider jpm100’s point: Do you think these questioners were average undecided Democratic voters?

    DRJ (42ad54)

  10. Rush Limbaugh says politics is the Democrats religion, DRJ. Consider their numerical advantage in the blogosphere.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  11. #10
    Couldn’t you make the same argument about Republicans when referring to talk radio?

    voiceofreason (be6fce)

  12. The difference is many Republicans have actual religion and they believe individual work and God change the world, Democrats believe collectivism and government do — their religion.

    Obviously, if you want to be literal, there are exceptions and many Republicans put a great emphasis on politics too.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  13. Christoph,
    It is a lot more complicated than Rush would have you believe.

    voiceofreason (be6fce)

  14. Of course it’s more complicated. I was throwing something out for DRJ to consider. Frankly, I’m not shocked politically active Democrats go to a primary debate. I wouldn’t expect your average Republican-voting auto mechanic who isn’t especially active in day-to-day politics to be going to G.O.P. debates either.

    Thanks for the link. I’ll have a quick look.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  15. “Do you think these questioners were average undecided Democratic voters?”

    They look like some of them were picked because they represent big democratic interests: civil liberties, labor, immigrants, anti-war, students. I don’t know if average undecided democratic voters even go to debates. But they do seem to represent average concerns and interest groups.

    whitd (10527e)

  16. Christoph,
    No scientifc proof or polls to give you but here is my personal experience IRT your assertion. I come from Kentucky orginally. More of my relatives are probably Democrats than Republicans. Almost all go to church and are very devout, patriotic people. My many years in the military gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over the country of the widest possible diversity one can imagine. Those who were Democrats were no less patriotic than their Republican comrades. As for religion the only real difference I would note is that they tended to be involved with churches that were not as fundamentalist as republicans. But the faith was just as strong.

    We cheapen the discourse among our citizens with these sweeping labels we let media personalities convince us is the truth.

    voiceofreason (be6fce)

  17. Oh
    Undecided as in “undecided which democrat to vote for”.
    Like when Ron Paul supporters are undecided about which Republican candidate to vote for because they are Libertarians and/or loons.

    Why not ask questions that a conservative blue dog democrat might ask?
    Are those too scary?
    Back in the day I voted for Bill Clinton. Now his party is led by a group that thinks picketing the home of some poor woman who lives down the street from Nancy Pelosi is speaking truth to power.
    They have to salt the field. Look at Obama fumbling and bumbling the same question [drivers licenses] his people pilloried Hillary on.
    They can’t handle tough questions, so you have to salt the audiences.
    “Yes, there, random voter with the print out on DNC stationary and the Hillary button, please ask us about something the handlers have ascertained the candidate can answer [fingers crossed]”

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  18. The point of this post was to show CNN used activists who appear to be pre-selected, but labeled them undecided. Whether that meant undecided in general or undecided Democrats, it doesn’t change that they were pre-selected activists. To me, those qualities aren’t consistent with the idea of average undecided voters trying to decide for whom they will vote.

    Kishnevi, I agree. The primary concern is that CNN willingly and knowingly used questioners who had agendas.

    DRJ (42ad54)

  19. “The primary concern is that CNN willingly and knowingly used questioners who had agendas.”

    To quote Sean Connery as Captain Ramius in Hunt for Red October, “We all have our reasons…”

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  20. “Whether that meant undecided in general or undecided Democrats, it doesn’t change that they were pre-selected activists.”

    So you think that in fact they are decided voters?

    whitd (10527e)

  21. DRJ,

    This is not really that surprising. I just read
    an article at

    and if the account is accurate both parties have ruined the spontaneity of debates. Since 2000 questions have to be turned in and screened.

    CNN was just more obvious than the others.

    voiceofreason (be6fce)

  22. VOR – It’s one thing to screen and pre-select questions. It’s another to pre-select activists to ask questions and state they are undecided voters. Undecided sounds like it could be anyone, maybe even someone like you or me, who has no axe to grind on a particular issue.

    whitd – It looks pretty clear they are all active Democrats. Maybe they are equally happy with any Democratic nominee but I doubt it, don’t you? As activists, they are well aware of the candidates’ positions on issues that matter to them and that influences who they support.

    DRJ (42ad54)

  23. DRJ, I think you’re missing the point (and believe me, I’d love to nail CNN… I think Wolf was an embarrassing pussy and let himself be cowed by Clinton)… sure, they were decided to vote Democrat… but maybe they were not completely decided about which candidate to support, hence the debate.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  24. With over a year to go before the election, I would expect independent and undecided voters to attend a Democratic debate (or a Republican for that matter). After all, the whole strategy to winning a national election these days is to capture the undecideds and independents.

    I didn’t watch the debate. If CNN did not clearly identify the audience as an audience of Democratic voters, then labeling Democratic Party activists as undecideds was blatently false and misleading. They should have been identified at least as democratic voters, if not as Democratic activists.

    gahrie (56a0a8)

  25. wow..sorry for the triple posts..I don’t know how that happened…

    [I fixed it, gahrie, and I sympathize. It’s happened to me and I never understood why. — DRJ]

    gahrie (56a0a8)

  26. Christoph,

    Maybe I am being too cynical (that would be a first), so let’s turn it around:

    Do you think it’s likely the leaders of a conservative evangelical group or an anti-abortion group can’t decide between the current GOP candidates? Granted, they may be willing to support more than one candidate but I think it would be disingenuous to label such people “undecided” and to fail to disclose their activism, especially if they were allowed to ask a question about their area of interest as these questioners did.

    DRJ (42ad54)

  27. DRJ

    There are many blogs ripping CNN into small little pieces right now and data is breaking by the minute on all but one person out of the audience. That person is basically a ghost as far as the net is concerned but is another UNLV student.

    So Far and still growing

    Doug Ross, LGF, Paterico, Dan Riehl, Gateway Pundit , PCexposed and others are on it and there is a ton of stuff on the web breaking by the minute as it all gets tracked down

    Muslim Activists and Harry Reid donor
    Union Activists linked to Obama
    Anti war activists
    Arkansas Democrat Party operatives
    Two Harry Reid interns (one not at the debate but linked for good reason)
    A past student president for MechA and undergrad recruiter of students
    The other Reid intern also linked to MechA and the May Day marches

    Diamond Girl was born in Mexico and brought across the border illegal at age 6 now naturalized citizen and is part of a UNLV organization supporting the Dream Act and is a past Harry Reid intern.

    daytrader (ea6549)

  28. “Do you think it’s likely the leaders of a conservative evangelical group or an anti-abortion group can’t decide between the current GOP candidates?”

    I think many of them would prefer to watch the candidates debate before making up their mind. I’m interested in politics, as interested in anybody. Heck, I’m fascinated by your election and I’m not even one of your citizens (but your leader directly affects my country).

    I still am not sure which candidate is best. Why can’t you believe they might not be either, at least some of them?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  29. “Maybe they are equally happy with any Democratic nominee but I doubt it, don’t you? ”

    I doubt it too. But does that mean they have decided?

    whitd (10527e)

  30. *as anybody

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  31. “Do you think it’s likely the leaders of a conservative evangelical group or an anti-abortion group can’t decide between the current GOP candidates?”

    I think its possible they are undecided between which republicans to support. certainly. and I think that undecided anti-choicers it would be interested to hear about their indecisions.

    whitd (10527e)

  32. Okay, I give for tonight. They were all just regular undecided Democratic guys and gals. Now that Karl Rove (and people like him) are back to being citizen-activists, I know you will agree they are just regular undecided Republican guys, too. No disclosure needed.

    That’s good to know.

    DRJ (42ad54)

  33. I think disclosure is a good thing and they definitely were NOT regular average Democrats as you say… but you have no way of knowing if they have decided on a candidate or not.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  34. Six of the plants have bunches of links out there to candidates and also believe it or not to each other besides.

    The is a 7th member of the audience who is basically a ghost as far as the net is concerned but is still another student at UNLV.

    daytrader (ea6549)

  35. “They were all just regular undecided Democratic guys and gals”

    That one valedictorian immigrant? She definately is not “regular.” She seems like an exceptional young woman.

    whitd (10527e)

  36. On the other hand, maybe you have something, daytrader.

    Clinton people?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  37. the real question is, when ISNT the fix in with MSM.

    james conrad (7cd809)

  38. The term “undecided voters” is a classically vague descriptive! Typically, the casual viewer would assume them to be from a cross section of the voting public. However, the discerning viewer (or reviewer) would immediately snort “Undecided my butt!”
    The more I view the Democratic effort, the more I am convinced that we are viewing the advanced stages of BDS. As we draw closer to a real contest, the Democratic Party realise that they may need to ,yet again, cheat to past this test.

    paul from fl (47918a)

  39. DRJ – You are absolutely correct in regards to this. Even if they were technically undecided, which is about as likely as whitd being a Republican, they are not representative, they are not just your average voters going to a debate, and they most certainly had their own agendas. They were plants, which Hillary just got nailed for. They are activists. And to think that they would not go apeshit if the Republicans did this would be the heights of teh crazy.

    JD (33beff)

  40. We all know how the liberal left-wing news media always favor the demacrats and the COMMUNIST NEWS NETWORK is no different then the rest

    krazy kagu (a97175)

  41. Whitd wake up and smell the coffee–that miasma blowing off the swamp–er “quagmire”– at the Democrat debate does not smell like Chanel No. 5.

    As the blogosphere has noted, CNN was pretty clearly in Hillary’s pocket. You would have thought that she (Hillary) and her staff would have given up on “pre scripted” questions by now. But this morning’s LA Times (of all places) notes that one of Hillary’s staffers gave “Diamond Girl” the question, “Do you prefer diamonds or pearls”.

    Even Tim Rutten, the great tuba blowhard of the LA Times, characterized the debate and CNN’s role in it as a sort of Barnum and Bailey circus with CNN playing the ringmaster and shill for Hillary.

    It is one of the great wonders of the political world that this sort of political bikini mud wrestling in the desert will lead to the Dem’s selection of a Presidential candidate by February or so–but it’s going to happen.

    Bismarck’s aphorism that people who like laws or sausage shouldn’t be present when either is made comes to mind.

    Mike Myers (31af82)

  42. I support the notion the television audience should have been told that LaShannon Spencer is a Democrat. It was, after all, a Democratic debate, hosted by the Nevada Democratic Party, and sponsored by the Democratic National Committee. Someone might have had the impression that Spencer stood to raise a question because she was an undecided Republican.

    Even worse is not disclosing the “agenda” of a former Harry Reid intern at a debate in which he’s not a participant.

    Perhaps we should ask for video dossiers on all people speaking at the pre-screened townhalls in which President Bush periodically appears. It’s one thing to screen questions in an audience, quite another to plant entire audiences.

    steve (6810ef)

  43. This is utterly disgusting. My favorite is: “LaShannon Spencer, whom Blitzer introduced as an “undecided voter”, was tagged by Dan Riehl: in truth, she served as the political director of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.” CNN is such a joke.

    With a Clinton back in the WH, we’ll soon be back in the clover where Clinton operatives regularly equate spin with policy. It’ll be 24/7 government bu poll, since Hillary doesn’t stand for anything except her own power.

    Redhand1949 (e283e5)

  44. I’ve volunteered for political campaigns in years past. Does that mean I’m no longer qualified to be introduced as an “ordinary person?”

    Viewers really think questioners at these debates just fell off the truck and wandered in? This is a national telecast, with tight time budgeting and a need to hold viewers’ interest in a competitive media environment – I’d be shocked if people weren’t screened and vetted, if for no other reason that to weed out mumblers and nutjobs who would have driven viewers away.

    This was a debate to help select what candidate would represent the Democratic Party. To make this a scandal you have to show not Dem bias among the questioners – which anyone with common sense and a basic understanding of the American electoral system should expect – but that they were strongly biased toward a particular candidate for the primary.

    MattT (bc3c68)

  45. Well what should we exopect from CNN which spiked stories that were damaging to Saddam to get access. Should we expect anything else when the dhimmierats and Hiladbeast start threatening re-education camp for the MSM?

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  46. I don’t know who whitd is, but I think he makes a fair point. Perhaps CNN should have referred to their questioners as “undecided Democrats” rather than undecided voters, but the latter designation is isn’t necessary innacurate.

    Now, I would be interested in who CNN picked to comment on the Republican primary. If they picked genuine independants or referred to the panelists as Republican Party operatives, there would be a double standard. And if CNN did something like this in the general election, I would be outraged. But based on what’s presented thus far, color me nonplussed.

    Sean P (e57269)

  47. What CNN did was ridiculous, but what do all of you think CNN should have done? I think they should have gotten rid of this whole “man on the street” garbage in the first place. These people are supposed to be journalists for God’s sake! Can’t they come up with good questions on their own?

    LTEC (ea0b64)

  48. Diamonds or pearls, now that is a question of REAL substance!

    Something assured to clear up any confusion as which one is more qualified to lead the nation, right?

    TC (1cf350)

  49. Of course, these were “average” voters.

    In the world of Big Media, normal people are Dems;
    only knuckle-dragging, snaggle-toothed, back-woods morons self-identify as Reps.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  50. Even more interesting if you go to the website where CNN has their transcript of the debate up you can search all you want and LaShannon Spenser is NOT part of the transcript.

    She sorta went poof.

    They still have the two parts of the streaming version of the debate up, haven’t have time to look at it to see if she is still included in that at this point.

    Funny I can go to other websites that have transcripts and she appears on their record but not with CNN.

    Strange that don’t you agree?

    daytrader (ea6549)

  51. Doug Ross address the missing Ms Spenser on his blog

    daytrader (ea6549)

  52. That’s just bizarre. Thanks for linking it, daytrader.

    DRJ (973069)

  53. Have been trying to puzzle this thing out and even considering it might be an oversight by CNN in the transcript.

    But then I started rolling through my mind that it would seem that a State Democratic Party staffer may be forbidden from participating in a debate by whatever ground rules that have been established.

    If nothing else, it would seem to suggest a conflict of interest or some such similar type of activity, in view particularly of her not being clearly identified as having such a capacity.

    daytrader (ea6549)

  54. Based on the fact that their a photos of the two references to Ms Spenser to compare we can reasonably conclude they are the same person.

    Thus we can make the State Party link up.

    However it is hard to confirm or deny if she in fact still holds that position currently.

    Either way even a past official would still seem to bring up ethical issues of participation in the debate so hard confirmation may be moot.

    daytrader (ea6549)

  55. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume the people in the audience were Democrats, but the way CNN presented the questioners was bound to give people the impression the questions were coming from “normal” people, not from people who already do, or intend to, make their living as part of the political class.

    At the very least they should have identified Ms. Spencer.

    To be honest, these debates have a sort of “Running Man” quality to them – what you’re seeing is stage-managed to feed the audience a narrative instead of giving them what they’re actually looking for, which is information about the candidates so they can decide for whom to vote.

    And yes, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I shall not put.

    Eric (09e4ab)

  56. If a Republican-sponsored debate on Fox had turned out to include such activists introduced as just plain folks, and the audience selection been as managed, and the frontrunner treated with such kid gloves, it would have been in the headlines the next day, and would still be the subject of editorials and analysis throughout the MSM.

    But the Democrats do it, and everyone falls all over themselves to excuse it, or more likely just ignores it.

    Hell, the President of the United States can’t even get quoted fairly in a State of the Union speech if he’s a Republican!

    sherlock (b4bbcc)

  57. Seems like these questioners were as authentic as an infomercial audience.

    deeledum (4ef1bd)

  58. This just shows whether it is a ballotbox or an audience, the Democrats just can’t help themselves and stuff it to get their desired result.

    PCD (b7be44)

  59. “Seems like these questioners were as authentic as an infomercial audience.”


    No shit, Sherlock. They were an infomercial audience: A bunch of potential customers deciding which candidate they’re going to buy come November (“buy” in a less literal way than would be true of their Republican counterparts).

    What tipped you guys off? Was it the chubby, nasally lady who spoke in choppy, rehearsed sentences and accused Bush and “neoconservative members of Congress” of “banging the drums of war again”? Was it the middle-America Muslim who whined about his civil liberties? Was it the goofy La Raza guy who smiled his vacant grin after delivering some prepackaged pro-immigration bullshit to Chris Dodd, then nodded sycophantically when he got his little paint-by-numbers reply in Spanish? Chris Dodd speaks Spanish, you see – he speaks Spanish, so he knows what he’s talking about on immigration, even though he’s from fucking Connecticut.

    Yeah, the questions from the audience were retarded. So what? I watched the (slightly more) real debate with a bunch of College Democrats in a low-key pizza joint, then tuned out and talked state-level politics while a bunch of Democratic activists got their rocks off on the national stage.

    This is America – whether those chumps know it or not, nobody cares what the audience has to say.

    Leviticus (b987b0)

  60. Gee Leviticus You sound disappointed. A bit hysterical as well, but mainly disappointed.

    deeledum (4ef1bd)

  61. You sound like I just gave you a tongue-lashing.
    Oh, wait…

    Leviticus (b987b0)

  62. “You sound like I just gave you a tongue-lashing.”

    I know when I’m licked. Now I just need to clean up the slobber.

    deeledum (344869)

  63. The problem with events like this, no matter which party is involved, is that they are packaged products. That really turns people off – young people especially – and that’s a shame.

    DRJ (973069)

  64. “The problem with events like this, no matter which party is involved, is that they are packaged products. ”

    Have you been following the debates since the league of women voters lost control of them?

    whitd (10527e)

  65. The debates have become more of an entertainment show than a serious discussion that voters should demand. Coming up with a clever one liner is more important than a well stated position on an issue.
    Supply and demand I guess.

    voiceofreason (7ba763)

  66. The debates have become more of an entertainment show than a serious discussion that voters should demand.

    Your standards for “entertainment shows” are frightfully low…

    Scott Jacobs (425810)

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.4515 secs.