CNN reporter Dana Bash missed the opportunity to press Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush on a 2001 Florida law he allowed to pass as governor that required single mothers to list their sexual histories in a newspaper before allowing children to be adopted.
In a prerecorded interview that aired on the June 14 edition of CNN's State of the Union, Dana Bash questioned Bush about his campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, including how he will distinguish himself from his family's political record, but failed to press Bush on his record as governor of Florida.
Just days earlier, however, Bash highlighted Bush's record as governor, noting that he is "facing questions about a 2001 so-called Scarlet Letter law in Florida when he was governor, requiring single mothers to put a notice in the newspaper before they could give up a child for adoption."
Bash also highlighted a statement from Bush's 1995 book Profiles in Character, in which he "argued for the 'restoration of shame' in society." From Bush's book:
One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior. There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.
According to Huffington Post's Laura Bassett, Bush's book "points to Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter, in which the main character is forced to wear a large red 'A' for 'adulterer' on her clothes to punish her for having an extramarital affair that produced a child, as an early model for his worldview."
And, as Bassett explained, Florida's Scarlet Letter law was an "opportunity to test his theory on public shaming," when he "declined to veto a very controversial bill," -- that Marco Rubio and five members of Congress also voted for -- "that required single mothers who did not know the identity of the father to publish their sexual histories in a newspaper before they could legally put their babies up for adoption."
NPR reported that part of Bush's rationale for the law was to decrease uncertainty about adoptions by "provid[ing] greater finality once the adoption is approved, and to avoid circumstances where future challenges to the adoption disrupt the life of the child."
But a 2004 Notre Dame Law Review article explained that the personal information required by the law to be listed in newspapers was extensive:
"The notice ... must contain a physical description, including, but not limited to age, race, hair and eye color, and approximate height and weight of the minor's mother and of any person the mother reasonably believes may be the father; the minor's date of birth; and any date and city, including the county and state in which the city is located, in which conception may have occurred."
And according to NPR, the ad "had to run once a week for a month, at the expense of either the mother or the people who wanted to adopt the baby, as that 2004 article explains."
While Bush objected to parts of the law, in part because, "there is a shortage of responsibility on behalf of the birth father," the 2001 law wasn't replaced until after a Florida court "declared the provision requiring women to list their sexual encounters unconstitutional because it was deemed an invasion of privacy."
Leading up to the successful rules change in the Senate to require a simple majority vote on presidential nominees, CNN gave air time to a number of right-wing myths about the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, among them that the court is ideologically balanced and that Senate Democrats' decision to embrace the "nuclear option" could make the Senate even more volatile in the future.
On November 21, in response to Republicans' blanket filibustering of President Barack Obama's judicial and executive nominees, Democrats reformed the rules of the Senate (a common practice) to prevent this unprecedented abuse of the filibuster. While reporting on this new rule that will restore up-or-down votes for the backlog of highly-qualified and mainstream nominees, CNN unfortunately repeated right-wing media myths on filibuster reform and the D.C. Circuit. Before the final vote, CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash initially minimized the unprecedented obstructionism on the part of Republicans, saying that a rule change could make the legislative body "even more partisan" should the GOP regain a majority in the Senate down the road. Bash went on to say that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was considering the so-called "nuclear option" because he wanted "to make a political point," ignoring that the mass filibusters have threatened to grind agencies to a halt:
BASH: What [the "nuclear option"] means in layman's terms is that it could be even more partisan on Capitol Hill, if you can imagine that, than it is now. The reason that the Democratic leader is going to seek to change the rules is because they're very frustrated with the fact that Republicans have been holding up the president's nominees. Let's just take a step back and talk about what we're discussing. ... [T]he current rules allow the minority to filibuster, and it requires 60 votes to overcome the filibuster. What this rule change would do, would effectively take away the minority's rights on most of the president's nominees for the executive branch and also for the bench, except for the Supreme Court.
Now you might ask well if this is the case why don't people in the majority, parties in the majority change the rules all the time? The reason is, there's a reason it's called the nuclear option, it is because institutionally, both parties have this sort of an understanding that they may be in the majority now but they could be in the minority tomorrow and part of the beauty of the Senate, in the Senate rules at least for the past few decades, has been that minority rights are pretty strong, as opposed to the House and so the respect for that has made it, made the leaders in both parties reluctant to change the rules, but Harry Reid has gotten so fed up and wants to make a political point right now and so it looks like it might happen today.
Although Bash appears to agree with the idea that it's increasingly likely that Senate Republicans will change procedural rules in the future now that Democrats have reformed the rules, her assertion that the "nuclear option" would make Washington "even more partisan" ignores the hyper-partisan maneuvers Senate Republicans have already employed. It is precisely because Senate Republicans have engaged in such partisanship that Democrats were forced to consider a rule change. In just the last few weeks, Republicans have topped off their historic streak of mindless filibustering by blocking three D.C. Circuit nominees in a row -- and not because they have qualms about their qualifications.
Reporting that House Republicans are investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress during his recent testimony about Justice Department seizures of communications records in connection with a national security leak investigation, CNN's Dana Bash misstated key facts of the controversy. In so doing, CNN helped bolster the hollow claims of Republicans -- wildly hyped by Fox News -- that Holder may have perjured himself.
On May 15, Holder appeared before Congress to answer questions about the revelation that the Department of Justice had seized phones records from the Associated Press covering a two-month period and had done so without notifying the news organization. The seizure was part of an investigation of the leak of classified information published by the wire service.
During the hearing, Holder was asked if prosecutors could charge journalists with a crime if they published leaked material.
Holder said that was a bad idea: "With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material - that is not something I've ever been involved in, heard of, would think would be wise policy." [Emphasis added.]
Since then, it was revealed that Fox News' James Rosen had been described as "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" in a 2010 FBI affidavit in support of warrant seeking permission to look through the reporter's phone records as well as the contents of his personal email account. The FBI was looking for correspondences with then-State Department security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who has been charged with leaking classified information to Rosen about North Korea in 2009. Holder approved of the warrant request. (Rosen was never charged with a crime.)
Using his May 15 testimony, Republicans and Fox hosts have pounced, claiming Holder contradicted himself.
As CNN explained it (emphasis added):
Though he testified in a May 15 Congressional hearing that he's "never heard of" the press being potentially charged for obtaining leaked material, it has since been reported that he signed off on the Justice Department's decision to seek a search warrant in 2010 for Fox News reporter James Rosen's private e-mails as part of a leak probe.
That was CNN's first mistake: In the Congressional testimony cited, Holder did not address the idea of charging reporters with a crime for "obtaining leaked material," as CNN suggested in its report. Instead, Holder said he had never been involved with potentially charging a reporter for "the disclosure of material." (i.e. Obtaining and disclosing materials are two different acts.)
CNN's Dana Bash did not challenge Rep. John Boehner's false suggestion that the health care reform bill being considered by the House contains a tax on all small businesses. Nor did she challenge Boehner's claim that Democrats are proposing to "nationaliz[e] our health care system here."
Despite passage of health care reform bills in House and Senate committees and the endorsement by major medical organizations of congressional Democrats' reform efforts, numerous television pundits have suggested that President Obama's health care plan is in serious jeopardy.
CNN.com reported that Republicans are using "accounts from Canada to warn against government involvement in the health care system" without noting that Democrats have ruled out moving toward a Canadian-style system.
From the June 25 edition of CNN's American Morning:
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Numerous media figures have adopted language reflecting gender and racial stereotypes in reporting about Sonia Sotomayor's temperament and intellect, in many instances relying on anonymous characterizations in Jeffrey Rosen's New Republic piece on Sotomayor.
Dana Bash mischaracterized Leon Panetta's response to Nancy Pelosi's allegation that during secret briefings in 2002 and 2003, the CIA had misled her about its use of waterboarding.
In a CNN.com article, Dana Bash reported that Republicans "trying to return to their small government roots" are "opposing Obama's economic prescriptions." But Bash did not mention that several economists say increased government spending -- as opposed to a return to "small government roots" -- is the necessary "economic prescription" during a recession.
Following the release of President Obama's proposal for the fiscal year 2010 budget, media figures and outlets have promoted a number of myths and falsehoods related to the proposal.
Numerous media outlets and personalities have claimed or suggested that given the size of the current and projected U.S. federal debt, the Obama administration's health-care reform proposal is untenable, but did not address the administration's argument that health-care reform is essential to the long-term economic health of the country.
CNN correspondent Brianna Keilar, along with several other CNN correspondents and hosts and instances of CNN on-screen text, described Timothy Geithner's proposal for Congress to pass legislation allowing the federal government to take over failing nonbank financial institutions as "unprecedented." In fact, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and FDIC chairman Sheila Bair -- both Bush appointees -- stated in 2008 that the federal government needed and should have such power.
In reports on the budget blueprint offered by House Republicans, CNN did not note that the plan includes a proposal to give the federal government authority to take over failing nonbank financial institutions -- a proposal similar to one presented by Tim Geithner, for which he was sharply criticized by those same House Republicans.
On The Situation Room, Dana Bash falsely claimed that "a clause" of the economic recovery act "effectively made sure that the contracts that were in place for the past couple of years with companies like AIG -- why those had to stay in place and why AIG had to give the bonuses." In fact, the relevant provision in the recovery bill actually restricted the ability of companies receiving funds under the act to award bonuses in the future; it did not mandate that AIG -- or any other companies -- pay bonuses.