Patricia Nell Warren

Is CNN Giving Palin a Pass?

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | October 14, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Politics
Tags: CNN, Fox News, Joel's Army, New Apostolic Reformation, recruiting youth, religious extremism, Sarah Palin, youth suicide

Those of us who are older can remember CNN when it was young, hungry and dedicated to real TV news reporting. For me, vivid pictures linger from 1991, when the Soviet Union was dissolving, and a young Wolf Blitzer stood amid the falling pieces with his mike. With time, CNN dubbed itself "the most trusted name in news." But in recent years, real reporting at CNN is less and less a sure thing, as government and corporate interests co-opt the news media more and more. During the Presidential campaign, it's true that show hosts Larry King and Anderson Cooper have stayed in a somewhat neutral zone, and reporter Jack Cafferty has been openly critical of the McCain campaign. But both of the other show hosts, Lou Dobson and Glenn Beck, are blatantly pro-McCain and pro-Palin.

Overall, through many weeks of watching CNN's election coverage, I notice that the slant of its hour-in-and-hour-out coverage is consistently more protective of McCain and Palin, and more inclined to throw dirt at Obama and Biden. Example: In the last few days, CNN is dwelling on the allegations of ACORN voter-registration fraud, suggesting that Obama is guilty by association because of his old link with ACORN. Meanwhile CNN avoids mentioning Republican frauds that wiped certain groups of registered Democratic voters off the rolls in many states.

But the most serious slant by CNN, in my opinion, is their avoidance of in-depth questioning around Palin's extremist religious affiliations.

In fact, now and then CNN seems to be taking a leaf from Fox News's book. They have been all over Obama about his problem pastor, and they still bring up the Wright thing... but they have yet to give equal attention to the issue of Sarah Palin and her problem pastor, Thomas Muthee.

Late last week, Fox News fired an accusation that "the liberal media" had given Obama a pass on the Bill-Ayers-is-a-terrorist question. The "liberal media" certainly didn't include CNN, which had been obsessively re-running different rounds of its own Ayers-terrorist allegations over and over, all day long. But CNN has had nothing to say about Sarah Palin and her questionable affiliations with New Apostolic Reformation figures -- despite some figures in this religious movement (like Thomas Muthee) openly advocating violence as a route to "apostolic" government in the U.S.

Yes, if anybody is getting a pass, it's Sarah Palin. The lady has been elevated to the status of folk hero -- even her hairdo is becoming a fad. Late last week, CNN fed the hero fires by featuring the conservative Christian women voters who have made Palin their darling -- the segment spotlighting these women was re-run ad nauseam all day long. One of them said that she supported Palin because "she's one of us."

An Alaskan legislative panel just finished investigating Palin on ethics charges for her actions during so-called Troopergate. The panel found that Palin had unlawfully abused her power as governor, according to the state ethics code. I think that further investigation is needed, to put a hot light on Palin's ethics as governor where the NAR is concerned. Sure, she has a right to her personal beliefs, however fringy they may seem to the rest of us. But she had no right to use her office to leverage her beliefs on others.

One new ethics question is about the faith-based nonprofit called Carry the Cure. Research organization Talk to Action, who are digging into her record, report that in 2007, Governor Palin appointed Rev. Patrick Donelson to the Alaska State Suicide-Prevention Council, ostensibly to help lower the high suicide rate among native Alaskan youth. Donelson, a well-known NAR figure, is affiliated with Carry the Cure. His appointment opened the door to Carry the Cure's evangelizing of native people in Alaska. By showing favoritism to the organization, Palin acted in what I think is a conflict of interest -- at that time, she was (and still is, at this writing) listed on the advisory board of Carry the Cure, which is supposedly dedicated to youth-suicide prevention. According to Talk to Action, however, the nonprofit's IRS tax returns show that Carry the Cure's actual stated mission is "religious - evangelical," not suicide prevention.

My own online survey of Donelson's ministry information tells me the same thing -- that their #1 interest in youth is evangelizing them to the NAR movement, which sometimes goes under the name "Joel's Army" and looks to recruit cadres of young people in every state. Indeed, thanks to Palin's gubernatorial act of opening the door for them, Donelson and his group are stating at church conferences that they made major numbers of converts among native Alaskan people.

The New Apostolic Reformation claims that its members raise people from the dead, overpower "demon powers" who prevent them from achieving their political goals, and aim to put an "apostolic" government in power in the U.S. by 2012 They admit openly that they operate by infiltrating themselves into government... and that includes getting their people appointed to sensitive positions.

According to Talk to Action, Governor Palin even traveled at taxpayer expense to a number of church conferences run by this extremist front.

It's my opinion that Americans should think twice about electing this woman as Vice President. Once in national office, she will likely continue the old favoritism on behalf of this movement -- meaning she will support the packing of key appointive and judicial positions with "her people," thus bringing the country closer to the "apostolic government."

Come to think of it, this is probably what Palin meant during the VP debate, when she said that the Constitution could be interpreted as giving the Vice President some extra power.

Where is CNN when we need them? Where is the valiant commentator with the mike, standing amid the falling pieces of America to tell us what's really going on?

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"Where is CNN when we need them? Where is the valiant commentator with the mike, standing amid the falling pieces of America to tell us what's really going on?"


Right on. Keith Olbermann is the only major media commentator who has the balls to talk about the Palin religious issues.

Rachel Maddow is also doing an outstanding job; and with Keith handing off to her, it's making for a seamless progamming block.

Yes, MSNBC is definitely showing the way on this one. Hopefully all this problematical stuff is going to follow Palin after the election. Even if she is elected (god and goddess forbid), it might come back to haunt her, if enough people start demanding answers. If she isn't elected, she could be facing some tough investigations.

Among other things -- how can she swear an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution if she truly believes that the U.S. should be run by the so-called "apostolic government," in which "Jesus is installed as king" (to quote from one of the movement's video footages) and the top executive officers are alleging to act on orders that Jesus gives them?

CNN is not all bad. Anderson Cooper's expression of disbelief and discust watching the Katie Couric and Palin was priceless. Rachel Maddow is the best thing going. I find Keith too critical, predictable and somewhat mean.

Don't forget about Campbell Brown's work lately. Her show is critical of both sides and points out errors of fact, rather than giving the false illusion of balance that comes from giving equal weight to opposing views. Or as she said (I'm paraphrasing), if someone says the sky is blue and someone else says it's cloudy, part of the journalist's job is to look outside and say, look, it really is blue.

Yes, it does seem that CNN is giving Palin a free ride on her radical issues. Still, I do like Campbell Brown, Anderson Cooper and Larry King for their attempts. For me, MSNBC is the best news source on TV today. Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews are my favorites...with Olberman at the top of that food chain. I am so grateful that these journalists have the guts to use their podium for what it needs to be used vent for the people who are fed up with incompetence in our government. Good going PNW, as always, you give insight for more thought.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 15, 2008 1:10 AM

That settles it. I have got to start watching MSNBC on line. I am sooo past CNN Asia. They loop the same stuff over and over. I do get 360, but I think Cooper (Vanderbilt) has become a Prada wearing prat in the closet.

My partner and I watch CNN a great deal and we have noticed that the network has "mellowed" over the years on hard hitting reporting. Watching Lou Dobbs is akin to wallowing in self righteous bitterness. I never watch Lou because he invariably thinks he is the voice of common sense on every issue he reports upon while simultaneously supposing that anyone who doesn't agree with his views isn't smart enough to look at the facts the same way he does. As for Wolf Blitzer, he looks visably uncomfortable every time Jack Cafferty makes a valid point coupled with an astute zinger.

Yes, I'll agree that CNN has really toned down their reporting where Palin is concerned. I have to wonder whether the corporate heads at Time-Warner have tamed the news division in fear of offending its audience. The end product has been mostly boring news.

Still, I love watching Christiane Amanpour, Jack Cafferty and Larry King: Each tends to tell it like it is rather than dance around the truth. Michael Ware, an Australian reporter for CNN, has often been completely candid (And accurate) about his observations of the Iraq war. And I still enjoy watching Anderson, even if he remains painfully obviously in the closet. I suppose you can't blame him when you consider how quickly Thomas Roberts was jettisoned (Yes, I know Roberts claims that isn't why he left CNN, but the whole thing smells like 10 day old alewives left in the sun).

CNN does still have its good points, but I think I'm going to start watching MSNBC more often.

I agree...there are a few CNN reporters who do soldier on with trying to report on real stuff. I am a big fan of Christiane Amanpour...who incidentally has been very blunt about the decline and fall of TV journalism. She has said so openly in speeches. Implicitly she includes CNN in that indictment. Maybe that's why they have relegated her to international coverage and kept her away from our national scene.

Lou Dobbs make me sick to my stomach. I can't watch him. And "a young Wolf Blitzer?" Was he still as odd looking with that weird speech pattern?

Wolf Blitzer's beard was strawberry blond then, but no weird speech pattern. That developed after he became an anchor. He was a much better reporter than he is as an anchor. But I didn't think of him being as particularly young then, as Patricia apparently does. I guess it depends on from where you're looking. ;-)