CNN's Candy Crowley uncritically aired Tennessee Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker's false claim that he has "never said a negative word" about the family of his Democratic opponent, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. In fact, Corker has "question[ed]" Ford's father's employment as a lobbyist, and Corker's campaign has repeatedly attacked Ford's family as the "Ford Political Machine."
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On the October 23 edition of CNN's The Situation Room and the October 24 edition of CNN's American Morning, CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley uncritically aired Tennessee Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker's false claim that he has "never said a negative word" about the family of his Democratic opponent, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. The statement Crowley aired was made during an interview anchor Carol Lin conducted with Corker and Ford on the 10 p.m. broadcast of the October 22 edition of CNN Newsroom. In fact, Corker has "question[ed]" Ford's father's employment as a federal lobbyist, and Corker's campaign has repeatedly attacked Ford's family as the "Ford Political Machine."
According to the cover story in the October 30 issue of Newsweek, "the Republicans are making much of the Ford clan's legal woes. ... Running attack ad after attack ad on 'The Ford Family Political Machine,' Corker and the Republicans have hinted that Sen. Harold Ford Jr. would engage in similar shenanigans." The article added: "After shaking up his own staff earlier this fall, Corker is now both attacking Ford's voting record and trying to draw attention to the extended Ford family." The Associated Press reported on October 20 that "Corker ... said he wouldn't make Ford's family an issue in the race, but in recent debates said the Fords engaged in machine-type politics.' Corker has questioned the work of Ford's father."
A Corker campaign commercial, "Memphis Man on the Street," states that "[o]ur mayor says the Ford family's trying to tie up every political slot in Tennessee" and "[t]he Ford family business is politics." A Corker campaign statement released in the afternoon of October 22 asserted that "questions have been raised about Harold Ford Sr. lobbying the House of Representatives while his son is a member." In an October 21 press release, Corker campaign communications director Todd Womack described Corker's proposed lobbying reform plan as "designed to dismantle the very system in Washington from which the Ford Political Machine profits." An October 17 Corker press release accused Ford and his father of "plac[ing] the [Ford Political] machine's interest above the public interest" and also accused "the Ford Political Machine" of "perpetuat[ing] the appearance of impropriety."
As of October 25, the main page of BobCorkerforsenate.com includes a graphic that calls Ford "an attractive young man whose total life experience is about Washington, politics and perpetuating the Ford Political Machine:"
From the October 23 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
CROWLEY [voiceover during video of Corker press conference]: Welcome to the Tennessee Senate smackdown. Screen left, Democrat Harold Ford, who tried to crash a press conference held by, screen right, Republican Bob Corker.
CORKER: As a matter of fact, this is my press conference, not yours, OK?
FORD: I'd love to hear you talk about Iraq, though.
CROWLEY: They don't like each other much, but mostly they are radiating the heat of a pivotal race. There are no last words, just the next ones.
FORD [video clip]: What kind of a man attacks another man's family in the face of a campaign? I'll tell you the kind of man. His name is Bob Corker.
CORKER [video clip]: I've never said a negative word about his family. He came in, in almost a juvenile fashion, and crashed a press conference on Friday. It's been called the "Memphis Meltdown," and he just got through saying a load of non-truth.
CROWLEY: This is nastier than most because it's not just about winning this race, it's about who will control the U.S. Senate.