The Plum Line

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  • Washington Post's Greg Sargent: GOP Is Shooting Itself In The Foot By Cancelling NBC-Telemundo Debate

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    The Washington Post's Greg Sargent wrote that "Republicans [are shooting] themselves in [the] foot with Latinos, again" after the Republican National Committee (RNC) suspended its debate partnership with its only scheduled Spanish-language network. The debate, originally scheduled to be hosted by NBC and NBC-owned Telemundo, was canceled by the RNC following the fallout from the CNBC debate.

    In the aftermath of the October 28 CNBC Republican presidential primary debate, conservatives reacted with outrage, and charged that the network demonstrated liberal media bias. The RNC responded by suspending NBC and Telemundo's future presidential debate, a move that political journalists criticized as a "harsh" response to "crisis mode," pointing out that the cancelled debate was the GOP's only scheduled debate that would have aired on a Spanish-language TV network.

    Sargent's November 2 article titled "Republicans shoot themselves in foot with Latinos, again," noted that the Democratic National Committee is now in talks with Telemundo to possibly host a candidate forum. Accordingly "one consequence of this decision could be that Republicans end up holding no debate aired on a Spanish-language network," while Democrats may "be able to argue that they are far more interested in communicating with Latino voters than Republicans." Sargent also noted that "All this comes after GOP establishment types went into full-scale panic earlier this fall over the damage Trump -- with his call for mass deportations and suggestion that Mexican immigrants are rapists -- may already be doing to the GOP brand among Latinos":

    Republicans are pulling out of their only scheduled debate that would be aired on a Spanish-language TV network. So Democrats may respond by holding a second gathering aired on one.

    The Spanish-language network Telemundo is in talks with the Democratic National Committee about possibly scheduling a new candidate forum with the Dem presidential candidates, after the Republican National Committee canceled its debate on NBC News and the NBC-owned Telemundo to protest CNBC's handling of last week's gathering, sources familiar with ongoing discussions tell me.

    If this comes to fruition, Democrats would effectively be moving into the breach created by the RNC's decision. It would mean Democrats end up holding two debate-style events on Spanish-language networks, since they are already set to hold a Univision debate in March.

    [...]

    But you'd think it would be a good idea for Democrats to try to make this happen. The RNC is claiming there will be another debate scheduled to replace the cancelled one on NBC and Telemundo. But RNC chair Reince Priebus has declined to say whether Telemundo would be included in the replacement debate. Obviously the RNC did not cancel this debate because of the Spanish-language network's participation; it had many other reasons for doing so. But one consequence of this decision could be that Republicans end up holding no debate aired on a Spanish-language network. If Democrats do add a second such gathering, they would then be able to argue that they are far more interested in communicating with Latino voters than Republicans are, which is a good message for the general election.

    Indeed, one of the GOP campaigns -- that of Jeb Bush -- is actually protesting the decision to cancel the NBC/Telemundo debate, and demanding that Telemundo be reinstated, presumably because Latino outreach would be good not just for Jeb Bush, but for the GOP overall. Guess which GOP candidate isopposing a reinstatement of Telemundo? Yep: Donald Trump. All this comes after GOP establishment types went into full-scale panic earlier this fall over the damage Trump -- with his call for mass deportations and suggestion that Mexican immigrants are rapists -- may already be doing to the GOP brand among Latinos. And it comes as incoming House Speaker Paul Ryan is renewing his pledge not to act on immigration reform while Obama is president.

  • Politico editor offers misleading defense of Cheney stenography

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Plum Line's Greg Sargent gets Politico editor John Harris to defend Politico's uncritical copying-and-pasting of Dick Cheney's attacks on the Obama administration. But Harris's defense doesn't hold water.

    Harris writes "[I]t seemed to me that the people who found Cheney's comments most objectionable were the ones who found them most newsworthy." What does that even mean? That the people who found Cheney's comments objectionable objected to them, which means they were noteworthy? That's incredibly circular. Further, Harris is ducking: He ignores a key aspect of the criticism of Politico, which was not merely that Cheney's comments didn't deserve attention, but that Politico failed to place them in appropriate factual context.

    Next, Harris suggests that it's ok that Politico uncritically passed along Cheney's attacks because other Politico articles filled in some of the gaps:

    If you look at the other stories we ran at the same time as the Cheney quote there was a Josh Gerstein piece leading the site comparing Obama's response to Bush's after the 2001 shoe bomber and debunking the notion that Obama's response was more sluggish. We also had a piece looking at GOP politicization of national security.

    If anyone should be aware of the need for individual articles to stand on their own, it should be a Politico editor. How many people sit down and read Politico cover-to-cover? Somewhere in the neighborhood of "none," I'm guessing. If it was ever adequate for a news organization to pass along unfiltered partisan attacks in one report, then add the necessary context in other reports, that time is long gone. It simply doesn't reflect the way people consume news.

    Finally, Harris offers this:

    Trying to get newsworthy people to say interesting things is part of what we do. Also in December we had a long Q and A with the other prominent former vice president Al Gore. That story might also have looked to some like providing an uncritical platform if you viewed it only isolation.

    Another misleading dodge. The Cheney article that drew criticism wasn't the result of a "long Q and A." It was based on what Politico described as a Cheney "statement to Politico." A press release, in other words. Which Politico reporter Mike Allen dutifully copied-and-pasted in its entirety. It isn't a "Q and A" if the person providing the A doesn't face any Q.

  • Sargent: CNN Admits That On-Air Commentator Worked For Insurance Industry, Promises Full Disclosure

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Sargent's "The Plum Line" blog:

    CNN has acknowledged in a statement to me that a high-profile Republican commentator who frequently discusses health care on the air is also the media buyer for one of the ad campaigns bankrolled by America's Health Insurance Plans, the major industry trade group currently waging war against the White House and Dem reform proposals.

    CNN tells me his ties to the industry will be disclosed in the future.

    The CNN contributor, well-known GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, is best known for producing the racially-charged "Hands" ad, has repeatedly appeared on the network attacking Dem health care plans and the public option, which is strongly opposed by AHIP.

    Castellanos's consulting firm, National Media, also recently placed over $1 million of TV advertising for AHIP, according to info obtained by Media Matters. AHIP's most recent $1 million ad buy attacks the health care plan as a threat to Medicare.

    This connection, you'd think, should be disclosed whenever Castellanos appears on CNN discussing health care. Asked for comment, CNN spokesperson Edie Emery acknowledged the tie and promised full disclosure in the future. She emailed:

    "When Alex Castellano returns from his vacation and next appears on CNN, we will clearly disclose to our viewers relevant information including his firm's relationship with AHIP."

    CNN doesn't appear to have known about Castellano's work, and this is not the first time outside help retained by AHIP in the health care wars has created a PR mess. AHIP took heavy criticism after the firm it retained to release a study faulting the reform proposals publicly undercut its own findings.

    Previously: CNN's Castellanos' firm is ad buyer for AHIP's anti-health care ad blitz