CNN's five new "top political reporters and commentators" include reported McCain adviser, former RNC official, CBN's Brody, and Wash. Post's Milbank

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

CNN announced in a press release: "Brody, Castellanos, Milbank, Rosen, Wall Span Spectrum of U.S. Politics for CNN Analysis, Commentary ... CNN has added five more top political reporters and commentators to its deep bench of political contributors and analysts." CNN's new "top political reporters and commentators" that "[s]pan" the "[s]pectrum" include reported McCain adviser Alex Castellanos, former RNC official Tara Walls, Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody -- who once described a male blogger as Fred Thompson's "angry girlfriend" -- and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.

In an August 13 press release -- posted on Media Matters for America Senior Fellow Duncan Black's blog -- CNN announced: "Brody, Castellanos, Milbank, Rosen, Wall Span Spectrum of U.S. Politics for CNN Analysis, Commentary ... CNN has added five more top political reporters and commentators to its deep bench of political contributors and analysts. Each of these respected observers of politics will provide analysis and commentary as CNN continues its political coverage." CNN's new "top political reporters and commentators" that "[s]pan" the "[s]pectrum" include reported Sen. John McCain adviser Alex Castellanos, former Republican National Committee official Tara Walls, Christian Broadcasting Network senior correspondent David Brody -- who once described a male blogger as Fred Thompson's "angry girlfriend" -- and Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank, who was recently chastised by the Washington Post ombudsman over his use of an anonymously sourced and unconfirmed quote.

Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. As Media Matters documented, in a March 25 post on the washingtonpost.com blog The Fix, staff writer Chris Cillizza reported that Castellanos -- creator of the racially charged "Hands" advertisement -- is a member of the "McCain Ad Council," a "group of advisers ... [that] will serve as outside thinkers and strategists to the [McCain] media effort." The New York Times reported on August 10 that Castellanos is a "member of Mr. McCain's panel of outside advertising consultants."

Some of Castellanos' recent CNN remarks include his saying of a characterization of Sen. Hillary Clinton as a "white bitch," "[S]ome women, by the way, are named that and it's accurate" (for which he apologized); suggesting that Clinton would poison Sen. Barack Obama; and falsely suggesting a link between 9-11 and Iraq.

Christian Broadcasting Network senior national correspondent David Brody. As Media Matters documented, in an August 21, 2007, post on his CBNnews.com blog -- titled "Fred, You're Such a Tease!" -- Brody characterized male blogger Lane Hudson as former Sen. Fred Thompson's "angry girlfriend." Hudson had filed a complaint against Thompson (R-TN) with the Federal Election Commission for Thompson's conduct in forming an exploratory committee on his presidential bid. After asserting that Thompson was handling speculation about his presidential campaign "like the cool, handsome jock in high school who teased all the girls who wanted to go out with him," Brody wrote: "Well, now Fred Thompson has an angry girlfriend. His name (don't go there) is Lane Hudson."

Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank. As Media Matters documented, in a July 30 column discussing a meeting Sen. Barack Obama had with members of the House of Representatives, Milbank wrote: "Inside, according to a witness, he told the House members, 'This is the moment ... that the world is waiting for,' adding: 'I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.' As he marches toward Inauguration Day (Election Day is but a milestone on that path), Obama's biggest challenger may not be Republican John McCain but rather his own hubris."

While Milbank gave no indication that he contacted the Obama campaign or anyone at the event to confirm the accuracy of the quote, Post colleague Jonathan Weisman, who also reported the quote and also cited "a witness," reportedly did hear from people at the event: House leadership aides who disputed interpretations -- like Weisman and Milbank's -- of the comment as self-aggrandizing. Weisman wrote in an update:

[O]ne leadership aide said the full quote put it into a different context. According to that aide, Obama said, "It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign -- that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol."

In a July 31 online chat, Milbank referred to criticism he had received for his July 30 column as "whines." The Washington Post itself was not quite as dismissive, later publishing a correction to one falsehood in Milbank's column. Further, responding to reader complaints about Milbank's use of a disputed and "anonymous secondhand quotation from Sen. Barack Obama," Post ombudsman Deborah Howell chastised Milbank for citing the source anonymously and for imputing a particular interpretation to a quote he did not witness. Howell wrote in her August 10 column: "Anonymous quotes should be used sparingly; this one wasn't worth it. If you weren't there, be careful about judging the context." Howell also found that "[n]either Weisman nor Milbank called the source" to confirm their interpretation of the quote.

Media Matters also documented that on the January 24, 2007, broadcast of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Milbank asserted of Sen. Hillary Clinton at President Bush's State of the Union address: "Hillary Clinton was situated immediately behind Barack Obama, making it easier for her to actually place the knife into his back, if that's what she was trying to do." Milbank also distorted a quote from Clinton -- "[P]eople who have known me, who can talk about what I do when the lights are off" -- to claim that her remark "was very nearly a case of Too Much Information." But Milbank left off the rest of Clinton's sentence, which makes clear that she was not insinuating what Milbank suggested. Milbank also wrote in December 2007 that Obama's "signature legislation as a state senator, the Health Care Justice Act, merely set up a panel to craft a plan," not, as Obama claimed, "expanded health care in Illinois by bringing Democrats and Republicans together, by taking on the insurance industry." In fact, Obama sponsored a bill that expanded health insurance programs for low-income families in Illinois.

Washington Times deputy editorial page editor and columnist Tara Wall. As CNN's release notes, Wall previously served as the "director of outreach communications for the Republican National Committee." A February 2005 RNC press release stated: "Tara Wall will serve as Director of Outreach Communications, ensuring that specialty and mainstream press are informed of the RNC's outreach efforts, President Bush's record of achievement and the Republican agenda as it relates to different constituencies across the ethnic, religious and ideological spectrums."

CNN also added Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, also the political director and Washington editor at large for The Huffington Post.

From CNN's press release:

CNN Recruits Key Political Experts for Campaign Coverage

Brody, Castellanos, Milbank, Rosen, Wall Span Spectrum of U.S. Politics for CNN Analysis, Commentary

Building upon its winning coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign and other political contests, CNN has added five more top political reporters and commentators to its deep bench of political contributors and analysts. Each of these respected observers of politics will provide analysis and commentary as CNN continues its political coverage.

The contributors, who will appear across CNN's numerous platforms in the coming days, include:

  • David Brody, senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years, Brody writes the political blog, "The Brody File."
  • Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist and former campaign consultant for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Castellanos is a partner in National Media Inc., a political and corporate consulting firm.
  • Dana Milbank, a Washington Post staff writer and author of the thrice-weekly "Washington Sketch" column. A veteran of political coverage, he has also worked for The New Republic and The Wall Street Journal, and his latest book is Homo Politicus: The Strange and Scary Tribes That Run Our Government.
  • Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist and currently the political director and Washington editor-at-large for HuffingtonPost.com. In a previous role, she was chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America.
  • Tara Wall, deputy editorial page editor and columnist for The Washington Times. Previously, she served as director of the office of public affairs at the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and as director of outreach communications for the Republican National Committee.
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
David Brody, Dana Milbank, Alex Castellanos, Tara Wall
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.