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  • Stephen Moore defended slave owner Robert E. Lee, wrongly claiming that “Lee hated slavery"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Shortly after the deadly August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, Stephen Moore went on CNN and defended the honor of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, claiming that he “hated slavery. He abhorred slavery, but he fought for his section of the country.” After his remarks resurfaced today, historians and reporters criticized Moore for his historical revisionism.

    President Donald Trump recently picked Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. Moore is a right-wing commentator who has objectionable views on women and the economy.

    Moore previously worked as a commentator for CNN and appeared on the August 17, 2017, edition of CNN Newsroom, shortly after the violent Unite the Right rally in which white supremacists claimed to march against the removal of Lee’s statue in Charlottesville, VA. On August 12, 2017, neo-Nazi James A. Fields Jr. killed anti-racism activist Heather Heyer with his car during the protest.

    During that CNN appearance, Moore defended the legacy and reputation of the Confederate leader, stating that “Robert E. Lee hated slavery. He abhorred slavery, but he fought for his section of the country.” He added that “the Civil War was about the South having its own rights,” and slavery “was a big part of it, but it wasn't only that.”

    CNN anchor John Berman told Moore during the exchange: “I can't let it slide. Robert E. Lee held slaves. He ordered the beating of slaves. He ordered the return of fugitive slaves and he fought for the dissolution of the Union to maintain slavery.”

    After his comments were resurfaced by Media Matters, reporters and academics criticized Moore’s historical revisionism.

    Princeton University historian Kevin M. Kruse tweeted, “Robert E. Lee owned slaves and brutalized them. Lee led an armed revolt against the United States to preserve and expand slavery. And during that armed revolt, Lee's army captured free blacks in the North and enslaved them.”

    Washington Post reporter Michael Scherer wrote: “Gen. Lee wrote that he believed ‘the relation of master and slave, controlled by humane laws and influenced by Christianity and an enlightened public sentiment [was] the best that can exist between the white and black races…’”

    Economist Washington correspondent Jon Fasman wrote: “Moore's assertion is a) manifestly untrue, and b) no excuse for treason.”

    Cornell University historian Lawrence Glickman wrote: “Stephen Moore proves that he's just as good a historian as he is as an economist.”

    Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery tweeted about the exchange, writing that Moore mischaracterized what the Post reporter said during a previous segment that also discussed Charlottesville. Lowery wrote that Moore claimed he had argued that “Robert E. Lee and all confederate soldiers were terrorists,” while what he actually argued was that “Lee fought for a treasonous cause and committed acts of brutal racial violence - not someone who should be honored w/public monuments.” He also tweeted: “The historical record is clear, though, Robert E. Lee was a traitor and brutal slave owner.”

  • CNN anchors misleadingly portray popular Democratic proposals such as "Medicare-for-all" and taxing the wealthy as far to the left

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    On Wednessday, CNN anchors Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow portrayed Democratic policy proposals that enjoy high public support as extreme, calling “Medicare-for-all” and a tax on high amounts of wealth “far left of center” and “very far left.”

    Polls have consistently shown high levels of support for these ideas: An August Reuters/Ipsos poll found 70 percent of respondents support “Medicare-for-all,” a January Politico/Harvard poll found 68 percent support a national health care plan like “Medicare-for-all,” and a January Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 56 percent of respondents support “Medicare-for-all.” Additionally, a February Morning Consult poll found 61 percent support for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) proposal for a wealth tax on very wealthy households, while a January The Hill-HarrisX survey found 59 percent of registered voters support raising marginal tax rates to 70 percent on income above $10 million.

    From the February 20 edition of CNN’s CNN Newsroom:

    JIM SCIUTTO (CO-ANCHOR): Karen, the focus of the Democratic Party, many of the candidates will say, is on beating Donald Trump. Is this a good look, in effect, for the Democratic Party? Is this the right approach to 2020 to go so far left of center, when polls consistently show that most Americans have more center -- and some polls even show center-right views on some of these key issues?

    KAREN FINNEY (CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR): Well, look, I think we have to take a step back actually, because having just worked on a campaign in the South on Stacey Abrams’ campaign in 2018, and looked at a number of other campaigns, the issue landscape in this country is a little bit different. And so when we talk about things like expanding Medicaid, or we talk about things -- which, you know, some states have not done yet even under Obamacare -- when we talk about, you know, commonsense gun safety measures, those issues poll pretty well in a lot of states where a lot of Americans see that as a more mainstream issue. They don’t see that as a far-left issue. So there’s a lot of things -- like child care, which Sen. [Elizabeth] Warren has been talking about -- that actually appeal to people, working people in particular who struggle with these issues.

    SCIUTTO: True, but that’s different than like 70 percent tax rates. And I’m not saying that’s the whole party, but you have [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)] going down that path.

    FINNEY: Well, she’s not running for president, though.

    SCIUTTO: You know, universal health care, universal health care. You’re talking about background checks. That’s one kind of issue. But I’m talking about issues further to the left of the political spectrum.

    FINNEY: Right, but just because someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House is talking about something that is, you know, that some may perceive as being to the left, that’s not necessarily going to influence what the presidential candidates are talking about. Because I think what they all recognize is, yes, they’re still in Congress, so they’re going to have to, at the right time, comment on some of these things because they may have to vote on them. But they also have to put forward their own visions. So I thought [Sen.] Amy Klobuchar, for example the other night, did a great job when she was talking about college affordability and what she would do. I know that student looked like he was a bit disappointed. So I think what you’re going to see -- and this is why the primary is so important and I think the debates are going to be so important -- you’re going to hear all of these ideas really teased out with similar goals and values at their core but different ideas about how we get there. And I think that’s going to be a really exciting thing for this country is to actually have conversations about ideas and not just tweets attacking people.

    POPPY HARLOW (CO-ANCHOR): And also let’s remember Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, also, you know, proposing that wealth tax on people with any assets over $50 million -- also very far left.

  • Paris Dennard’s history of commentary on sexual misconduct on CNN

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    CNN has suspended political commentator Paris Dennard after a Washington Post report detailed allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior during his tenure as the events director for Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership. During Dennard’s time as a political commentator at CNN, he staunchly defended President Donald Trump against reports that Trump sexually harassed and assaulted several women, attacking the reporting and complaining that such stories “destroy[s] people’s credibility” and “tear people down” using “unsubstantiated facts.”