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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Where Have All The Commentators Gone?

Watch out, here comes the soap box!

A recent post on Greg Sargent's blog, Horses Mouth Home, confirmed my suspicions that the disappearance of long time regular commentators was not accidental.

Have you noticed anyone missing from the CNN Election Center on primary nights?

For the last several weeks James Carville and Paul Begala have not been seen anywhere near the Election Center or the Situation Room. CNN has removed them as well as Robert Zimmerman from their line up because they are supporting Senator Clinton.

Sam Feist, CNN's political director, also confirmed the decision to me. "As we got closer to the voting, we made a decision to make sure that all the analysts that are on are non-aligned," Feist said, adding that the decision had been made around the start of December. "Carville and Begala are two of the best analysts around and we look forward to seeing them on CNN plenty of times in the future, once the nominating process has ended."

Feist pointed out that a few other analysts aligned with campaigns of both parties had been told the same, and added that aligned analysts would only be appearing in contexts where they were acting as campaign surrogates. Carville did appear on Larry King on Jan. 9 as a surrogate.

Carville and Begala's presence on CNN has led to criticism for the network in the past. A few months ago the liberal blogosphere roundly condemned CNN for presenting them as neutral observers without identifying them clearly and frequently as Hillary supporters. In response to the criticism, CNN started identifying them as Hillary backers.

Interestingly, not everyone at CNN appears to agree with this decision. "People inside CNN are surprised," one person involved with CNN programming told me. "No other network buckled to this political pressure. CNN has removed from its lineup top analysts who know about the national political scene."

I can't say that I've ever mistaken Begala or Carville for unbiased commentators while watching them on CNN. And I've missed the opinions that they could offer during this primary season. Who better to offer an insight into the Clinton political machine than those who once worked for it! I'm disappointed with CNN for not believing that their viewers are intelligent enough to decide for themselves whether or not Zimmerman, Carville, or Begala's analysis is accurate.

I fully expect that political commentators like Bill Bennett, Amy Holmes, Donna Brazile, and Roland Martin are going to be biased. I thought that was the whole point - to offer a variety of viewpoints during the election season and let the viewers make up their own minds.

It would be completely different if they were working for the campaign. Ed Rollins absence is understandable since he's become part of Governor Huckabee's campaign.

I don't think that a commentator having a pubic opinion about the campaign is enough to banish them from the discussion. That's my opinions. What's yours?

Enough of my soap box and onto lighter things. Last weekend, John Zarrella filed a story about a young reporter covering the 2008 Election. Shelby Fallin, who is only 9 years old, reports for Scholastic News. Below is a clip from the report:


Mystery Journalist

This week's Mystery Journalist was a challenge for me. I've struggle to find an appropriate picture that wasn't completely obvious. Yes, this week's Mystery Journalist was Anderson Cooper.

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Cristina said...

I must inquire- what is the ghost blogs that some of our all things reporters have? There are ghostallthings or ghostallthingscnn, what're they about? Just wondering

Phebe said...

I really miss Paul's humor, as well as insight. Bill Bennett is so slanted to the right we could use a little more ballast on the left. Of course we all know that CNN got stung by the news blogs for not disclosing at the beginning of the race, guess they're still smarting?

Phebe said...

@ Cristina, the ghost blogs are what we use to test videos, put up posts for our blogmates to preread, etc. They are an internal form of communication, and not for public viewing.

ACAnderFan said...

YAY!!! I got the mystery journalist!!! I t just looked like that ear belonged to AC :)

Anonymous said...