This well-researched letter to the editor is a draft by Roxanne Smith; she's still seeking feedback before sending it widely. I have questions at the bottom of this posting.
CNN Donated $138,640.00 to Senator John Kerry
In less than two weeks time, how did two second tier candidates, both polling in single digits, overcome two powerful front runners both with formidable grass roots campaigns?
John Kerry's win of the Iowa Caucuses was an upset of such seismic proportions that CNN Host Judy Woodruff breathlessly exclaimed, "a Kerry victory would be one of the great political stories of this decade" . . .
In less than two weeks time, how did a candidate, polling in single digits, with a campaign that was bankrupt and running on borrowed money, win the Iowa Caucuses?
The answer may lie in the special relationship that exists between CNN/Time Warner and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. According to the Center for Public Integrity, Washington, D.C.,
CNN's parent company, Time Warner, donated $138,640.00 to John Kerry and ranks as the third largest lifetime contributor to Senator Kerry.
John Kerry, a candidate whose campaign was on life support only because he, himself, loaned it money from his own mortgaged home was awarded Super Star status by CNN. If we had known of CNN/Time Warner's special relationship with Senator Kerry would we not have questioned the deferential tones, the "he's becoming more presidential everyday", "Dean and Gephardt are very fearful of Kerry"? Would we not have questioned Kerry's "Michael Jordan of Politics" image, force fed us by CNN? After all, this was a man who after a year of running for president was instead running a bankrupt campaign.
Kelly Wallace, CNN's campaign inbed for John Kerry, is blond, bubbly, effervescent, a cheerleader hanging on the high school football quarterback's every word. Candy Crowley, CNN's campaign inbed for Howard Dean, now has a permanent scowl and she sighs a lot in her daily reporting on Howard Dean's campaign. Perception is everything, which candidate would you vote for?
This is not rocket science. It is Marketing 101.
But Senator Dick Gephardt was also a contender. John Edwards was crucial to unseating Gephardt. By CNN's own estimation, John Edwards and Gephardt were vying for the same votes. As Edward's poll number rose, Gephardt' fell.
CNN played Edwards, "The South is my back yard, not Bush's" over and over.. Through pundit comments, they gave it the credibility of fact instead of the brave, but empty campaign slogan of a second tier candidate polling in single digits. It worked, Edwards took enough votes away from Gephardt to ensure his demise. Dick Gephardt dropped out of the campaign.
Because of insidious innuendoes, "his time is past, he's probably not electable", or "he's angry, he probably won't win in the general election" we turned our back on good, decent candidates that had earned the right to win in Iowa. What we witnessed in Iowa was not an election it was an orchestrated Coronation of John Kerry lead by CNN and the special interest they represent. It is not what President Lincoln had in mind when he wrote "of the people, by the people, for the people".
Would Dick Gephardt still be in the race? Probably. Would Howard Dean still enjoy a commanding lead in the polls? Maybe. We will never know.
We all have our favorite candidates, and this is as it should be. This is not about Gephardt, Dean, Edwards, any of the other fine candidates, or even Kerry. It is about special interest manipulating one of our most cherished and basic fundamental rights. The right to choose who will represent us and how we will be governed.
CNN's preferential treatment of John Kerry is deeply troubling. But discovering they are the third largest lifetime contributor to Senator Kerry is appalling. Would CNN benefit if Kerry were elected president. Possibly. If media giant CNN chose, could they significantly affect the outcome of this election? You bet.
That neither CNN or Senator Kerry disclosed their special political and financial relationship is profoundly disturbing. Is it illegal? I do not know. Is it unethical? You bet.
Given the circumstances, if CNN has a possible vested interest in Senator Kerry being elected President, and they also have the ability to significantly impact the election results, there should have been full public disclosure. To do less is an egregious violation of public trust and should not be tolerated.
Senator Kerry should resign from the campaign.
A full analysis and evaluation of CNN transcripts (available on CNN's web
site) should be done by a non-partisan watchdog group. If, indeed, it is found to be biased, then appropriate action should be taken. There should also be steps taken to ensure this never happens again.
As I write this today, January 23, 2004, the headlines on CNN are "Kerry's on a roll. Howard Dean is in full damage control". It appears CNN is continuing this same strategy in New Hampshire with the same results. If this is not stopped then a candidate, propped up only by special interest, will soon be Coronated President of the United States.
This cannot be allowed to happen.
The President of the United States is a position of trust that must be earned not awarded.
It took courage to write this letter. It is the first Letter to the Editor I have ever written. Albert Einstein once said, "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." I stood by while good American jobs were exported overseas. I stood by while our media was consolidated to where, now, only a handful of people determine what we see, hear, and read as news and entertainment. But I came to realize, and I hope others will too, that if we do not stand up for what is right, then we stand for nothing.
Roxanne Smith, D.C.
Here are my questions (and please post feedback on the letter since the author is looking for it):
(1) Is this really unusual? Don't large corporations often make contributions to candidates? Wouldn't that include media corporations? And, I've never heard of a candidate announcing which corporations have contributed, or else being asked to resign. That doesn't make it appropriate, though, and perhaps media corporation contributions should be disallowed in a future campaign finance law, given the role of the media in covering and influencing campaigns. Then, has this already happened with the more recent campaign finance laws, since corporations can't contribute directly to campaigns, although their individual employees can?
(2) Do you think CNN is solely responsible for Kerry's win in Iowa? I have now read so much about Kerry's amazing Iowa Field Director, and I observed one Caucus myself in which the Kerry Precinct Captain was extremely well-trained and persuaded almost all the totally undecided people at the Caucus (which was more than 25% of the people present) to join the Kerry group; it appeared to have more to do with the precinct captain than with the candidate, and I heard similar reports from others who observed Caucuses. Of course, the combination of CNN's coverage of Kerry in the days and weeks before the Caucuses combined with a talented Field Director could have been decisive. Regardless, I definitely think CNN is responsible for the manipulative spin on Dean's speech. I witnessed his speech first-hand and it was perfectly appropriate for the setting, and the 100s of media people present seemed to think so (they chatted with us for an hour afterwards and no one seemed fazed); yet, when I watched CNN (about two hours after the speech) the "news" anchor (not a pundit or analyst) introduced the out-of-context speech clip with "Watch how Dean loses it here". In fact, the lead-in remarks by the CNN news anchor before the clip got worse each hour through the night. By 4 am, CNN "news" declared Dean a rabid animal who had destroyed all chances of getting the nomination.
(3) Do you think the appearance of a campaign embed makes a difference in how the candidate is perceived? I'm a bit skeptical of that one. If not, should that paragraph be removed so the this letter is stronger?
(4) What's a "campaign inbed"? Sounds like the lead-up to a Gary Hart joke or something...