CNN's Bash uncritically repeated GOP spin on Lamont victory, casting Democrats as "defeatist," "weak on security"

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash twice uncritically reported that Republicans planned to cast a victory by businessman Ned Lamont over incumbent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman as evidence that Democrats are "defeatist" and "weak on security" because of Lamont's criticism of Lieberman's support for the Iraq war, but she did not point out in either of her reports that a majority of Americans oppose the Iraq war.

Reporting before and after the official results of the Connecticut Democratic primary for the August 8 edition of CNN's Situation Room and the August 9 edition of CNN's American Morning, congressional correspondent Dana Bash twice uncritically reported that Republicans planned to cast the victory by businessman Ned Lamont over incumbent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman as evidence that Democrats are "defeatist" and "weak on security" because of Lamont's criticism of Lieberman's support for the Iraq war. Bash further reported that Republicans were "already licking their chops" over Lamont's victory, because they believe it shows that the Democratic Party is "being taken over by the left wing of their party. And from their perspective, that's not good for the country." Bash did not point out in either of her reports that a majority of Americans oppose the Iraq war -- in fact, a CNN poll released on August 9 showed that 60 percent of Americans, the largest percentage to date in a CNN poll, oppose the Iraq war -- and other polls have reported that a majority supports the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Further, exit polling of Connecticut primary voters conducted by CBS News and The New York Times found that, in addition to "intense objections" to the Iraq war, "a view of Senator Lieberman as 'too close' to President Bush account[ed] for Mr. Lamont's victory". The Times survey also found that 71 percent of the primary voters strongly disapprove of the job President Bush is doing.

Discussing the anticipated spin by the political parties on The Situation Room on the day of the August 8 primary, Bash told host Wolf Blitzer that "for Republicans, a Lieberman loss fits right into their election-year playbook, that -- the Democratic Party is weak on defense and defeatist -- and that GOP sources tell us that they are already preparing talking points, saying that Democrats are abandoning the party of JFK and Harry Truman, in favor of Michael Moore and anti-war activists." On August 9, after Lamont's victory became official, Bash told American Morning host Soledad O'Brien that Republicans were "already licking their chops. ... Essentially the headline of this is: 'Defining the defeat-ocrats.' They think this plays right into their storyline this election year, that Democrats are being taken over by the left wing of their party. And from their perspective, that's not good for the country."

From the August 8 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: If -- if he loses, I know that, even before the outcome is known, a lot of Republicans and Democrats are already preparing what they call their spin -- what does it mean if Joe Lieberman goes down. What are you hearing?

BASH: They are preparing. You're right. You know, for Republicans, a Lieberman loss fits right into their election-year playbook, that the Democratic Party is weak on defense and defeatist and that GOP sources tell us that they are already preparing talking points, saying that Democrats are abandoning the party of JFK and Harry Truman, in favor of Michael Moore and anti-war activists. That's what Republicans are planning. On the flip side, Democrats are working feverishly to cast Connecticut as proof of powerful anti-Bush sentiment in the electorate, because it is Lieberman's support for the president, of course, as we have been reporting, and Iraq that have caused him so much trouble. But one interesting point here that a top Democrat suggested to me earlier today, another lesson that top Democrats can take from this, and that is the risk of keeping -- not keeping close touch at -- at home. This Democrat says Senator Lieberman was seen as not necessarily paying enough attention to the concerns of his constituents. And, Wolf, that is another key factor that is hurting him today.

From the August 9 edition of CNN's American Morning:

O'BRIEN: OK. So what does this all mean for the midterm elections and for the 2008 elections, specifically?

BASH: Well, you know, it should be said that Connecticut has about the highest anti-war, anti-Bush sentiment in the nation right now. Nevertheless, as you just alluded to, this certainly was a test case. The entire political world was watching. A test of the power of Iraq as a decisive issue this election year and the power of the anti-war movement within the Democratic Party. But interestingly, Soledad, Democrats have been watching what has been happening in Connecticut for months now and many have already tried to learn a lesson from it. And that is to be more vocal about their concerns about Iraq. Hillary Clinton, for example, voted for the war. She has been lumped with Senator Lieberman as a war supporter. But she's already been more vocal in her criticism of the Bush administration on Iraq. Remember, she called last week for Donald Rumsfeld to be fired. And Republicans, I can tell you, they're already licking their chops. They are sending around this talking points memo to their supporters, to talk radio hosts. We're going to hear from the Republican National Committee chairman later on. Essentially the headline of this is: "Defining the defeat-ocrats." They think this plays right into their storyline this election year, that Democrats are being taken over by the left wing of their party. And from their perspective, that's not good for the country. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Dana Bash for us this morning. Dana, thanks. And Candy Crowley, of course, and Dana Bash are part of the best political team on TV.

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