CNN and the Democratic Party have been accused of trying to sabotage Bernie Sanders after the network masked the political affiliations of audience members who pelted the senator with questions during a town hall event.
The Vermont senator found himself bogged down in complicated policy issues – and apologies – after fielding questions from audience members whose political loyalties and possible ulterior motives were obscured by CNN. The eyebrow-raising oversight was first spotted by Paste Magazine, which accused CNN, in concert with the Democratic Party, of “stacking” the audience against Sanders by not being upfront about who was tasked with asking the senator questions.
For example, a young woman identified by CNN as a student at American University suggested that Sanders had turned a blind eye to his campaign’s alleged sexist behavior during the 2016 primaries, and asked what the democratic socialist would do to make women feel more included in his 2020 presidential bid. Curiously, the network failed to disclose that the student also happens to be an intern at a major DC lobbying firm – an odd coincidence considering her question was adapted from a Sanders-bashing talking point popular among corporate-friendly Democrats.
CNN was similarly tight-lipped about the backgrounds of other audience members selected to interrogate Sanders.
One audience member labeled as a “George Washington student” was later revealed to be an intern for a Democratic fundraising organization, the Katz Watson Group, and was previously a campaign fellow for ‘Hillary Clinton for America’.
Town hall moderator Wolf Blitzer introduced another audience member as a mother of two who is “active in the Maryland Democrat Party.” It turns out the innocuous mom was actually the chair of her county’s Democratic Central Committee.
CNN conceded that it should have been more transparent about its question-askers.
“Though we said at the beginning of the Town Hall that the audience was made up of Democrats and Independents, we should have more fully identified any political affiliations,” the network said in a statement.
Edward Hall, an economist and co-founder of the Occupy Wall Street movement, told RT that CNN’s deceptive identification practices were “par for the course” and part of a “long-running disease” in US politics, which uses in-fighting to protect corporate interests.
This isn’t the first time that CNN has given Sanders a raw deal. In one notable example, the network was taken to task for declaring Clinton the Democratic candidate even though, at the time, she lacked the required number of pledged delegates to clinch the nomination. Emails published by WikiLeaks famously revealed that CNN contributor Donna Brazile passed town hall debate questions to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 primary against the Vermont lawmaker.
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