On last Friday’s “The Situation Room” on CNN, Wolf Blitzer allowed commentator and activist John Avlon to attack Sarah Palin without disclosing to the viewers that Avlon is a co-founded the anti-Tea Party group No Labels. Blitzer introduced Avlon as a “CNN Contributor and a senior political columnist for ‘Newsweek’ and ‘The Daily Beast'” without disclosing his No Labels ties.
Such an omission is noteworthy because Blitzer had Avlon on to discuss an article that slammed the woman whose endorsement carries the most weight among Tea Party voters: Palin. In a nutshell, the exchange symbolized CNN’s problem of hiding its biases behind a veneer of objectivity and allowing its guests to do the same.
If CNN has a rule that forces hosts to only mention three affiliations of a guest, Blitzer could have easily substituted Avlon’s “No Labels” affiliation for “Newsweek” or “The Daily Beast,” or just referred to both as simply “NewsBeast.”
Blitzer and CNN took Avlon’s report about SarahPAC’s two-month old financial disclosure report at face value, failing to supplement it with any journalism worthy of the high regard with which they hold themselves. Avlon delivered his talking points unchallenged, charging that Palin was supposedly hypocritical for not spending as much money on candidates as Avlon would have liked her to while she railed against consultants.
Blitzer actually thanked Avlon for the hit piece, noting that he did “some reporting for us.”
Neither noted that PACs have contribution limits, nor that Palin was not hypocritical because her advisers do not tell candidates to make unnecessary commercials because they get a cut from them, nor that Avlon falsely wrote that Palin’s PAC raised more money in 2011 than it did in 2012.
CNN’s facade of objectivity has repelled viewers fed up with their air of superiority and biases in favor of liberals, the bipartisan permanent political class, and groups like “No Labels” that attack Tea Party conservatives like Palin.
At the very least, CNN owed its viewers a simple disclosure that their guest had launched an activism organization hostile to Tea Party conservatives. They ought to have let the viewers know that Avlon has an anti-Palin agenda. Either that, or they are willingly duping their audience, many of whom presume he’s a neutral source.
Blitzer should also have challenged Avlon to defend his assertions and asked him why he felt Palin’s advisers were like those she criticized at CPAC, or if Avlon even examined Palin’s FEC reports, as he claimed. It may be too much to ask a network that is becoming more unserious by the day to question Avlon’s assumptions and falsehoods printed about SarahPAC. That would require CNN to either have people on staff who are capable of putting aside their biases long enough to attempt to understand conservatives.
Palin has a force-multiplying effect unlike what the mainstream media has seen before and poses a challenge to them and their lazy assumptions. But it seems CNN is afraid to trust their viewers with the whole truth and let them decide what to believe on their own.
After all, that’s what the network was purportedly established to do.