The Gatekeeper's "Gatekeepergate"?

That CNN has been caught again using planted questioners should surprise no one, least of all me. I've lost count of how many of their "ordinary citizen" questioners turned out to be activists known to CNN or associated with various campaigns.

There were several in the last debate, and there have of course been several more in the latest debate.

It's a farce. (As Roger L. Simon observed, it forces satirists to "parody a parody.")

There have been countless posts by countless bloggers. Glenn Reynolds has had more posts than I can count about CNN's obvious bias; in this one he pretty well sums it up. I especially liked this:

I've never called CNN the "Clinton News Network." (I'm not even a "conservative blogger" except in the sense that I've supported the war, but nowadays that's all "conservative" means to most people). And there's a bigger problem.
I'll go further. I don't know whether I've called CNN the Clinton News Network, so I'll check.


So here I go....

CNN is the Clinton News Network!

It's just too blatant to ignore.

What irritated me the most, though, about the angry retired gay general whose name is right there for the world to see on Hillary's web site was not so much that CNN failed to disclose it (or that they have now expunged the segment) but that the premise of General Kerr's argument was so flawed.

I do not refer to his argument that gays should be allowed to serve. I agree with him wholeheartedly on that, and I have for years. Rather, it's the way he stood there on national television, with a huge (if justifiable) axe to grind, and scolded the Republicans -- as if his "closet" was all their fault.

Was it?

What I think should have been reported was not merely his presence on Hillary's election committee, but the background behind his argument -- especially the fact that he retired not under Bush, but under Clinton -- after the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was established.

Moreover, his military service dates back to the early 1950s -- a time when there was virtually unanimous agreement by the political leaders of both parties that homosexuality was incompatible with military service. Kerr didn't come out until 2003:

Darrah, along with Army Col. Stewart Bornhoft and Army Brig. Gen. Keith H. Kerr, who all are retired, will speak about hiding their orientation while in the military and ask for support to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy tomorrow, Aug. 3, at a program benefiting the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) at Chicago's Center on Halsted roof garden.

The "don't ask, don't tell" policy was enacted in 1993 and thought to be an improvement because before its enactment, being LGBT barred a person from military service. The policy also ended intrusive questions about service members' orientation and stopped the military's investigations to smoke out suspected members.

"Sometimes [military officials] used strong-arm tactics to throw people out," says Kerr, 74, who was one of the highest-ranking military officers to reveal he was gay when he came out in a 2003 New York Times article.

Kerr was a teenager in 1950 when Sen. Joseph McCarthy claimed that Soviet spies and Communists were infiltrating the U.S. government. McCarthyism taught him certain aspects of a person's life are best kept secret. He retired from the California State Military Reserves in 1995 after 31 years in the Army and the Reserves, primarily with intelligence groups.

"The basic premise I started with is that if you wanted to be successful in life, you had to keep that to yourself," says Kerr.

So the guy came out in 2003, then he became active in the Kerry campaign. Whether Kerry would have gotten rid of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is open to serious question. Not long before the election, he was caught in this classic waffle:
in June John Kerry told the 'Army Times' magazine that he was not sure that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should be abolished, even though he has previously said that he supports allowing Gay men and Lesbians to serve in the U.S. military, and disliked the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
And while few may remember it, Kerry also stated during the campaign that he and Bush had "the same position, fundamentally" on gay marriage.

So, with all respect to General Kerr and his decision to come out eight years after his 1995 retirement, why is it that the public national scolding is deserved only by Republicans?

During General Kerr's 43 years of service, he'd have served under ten Presidents -- Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. That's five Democrats and five Republicans; and the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" wasn't implemented until shortly before he retired. Under all previous admininstrations, the policy was more along the lines of "we ask, you lie!"

I'm sure life in the military was difficult for General Kerr, and it is understandable that he would bear a grudge. But I think it's hardly fair to single out Republicans for an emotional scolding.

What would have really been interesting (and more honest, in my view) would have been to allow candidate Alan Keyes to weigh in on General Kerr's question. Keyes is on record as saying that homosexuality, is "the thermonuclear device--that is aimed at the soul of America," and "a direct repudiation of our most important principles."

It may sound cynical, but think CNN did itself a disservice here. I mean, imagine the ratings that would be generated by a presidential candidate accusing a general of being a thermonuclear device on national television.

But CNN kept Keyes off the air and edited him out of the debate. The Keyes website is naturally indignant:

For reasons evident below, CNN's decision to exclude Dr. Keyes is obviously arbitrary, unfair, and presumptuous -- overriding, in essence, the prerogative of the State of Florida to decide which presidential contenders voters have a right to learn about.

The effect of this decision by CNN is far-reaching. Any candidate who does not appear in this nationally-televised debate -- the last one scheduled before the primaries -- will have little chance of compensating for the damage done to his campaign in the public mind. Note that Ambassador Keyes has already been excluded from two previous national debates on dubious grounds, and as a result, most people are not even aware he is running for president.

Excluding Dr. Keyes from Wednesday's debate will arguably do irreparable damage to his campaign -- a result that can hardly have escaped CNN. CNN is playing "gate-keeper," and that is not a legitimate role of the media, no matter how much influence they seek to exert in the political arena.

Read the following exchange, and if you believe an indefensible injustice is about to occur, contact the following executives at CNN and encourage them to reverse their decision to exclude Alan Keyes.

CNN's position is that Alan Keyes hasn't raised enough money and doesn't do well in the polls.

But both Florida polls and a recent Iowa poll show him as ahead of at least Duncan Hunter:

Mitt Romney 29%
Fred Thompson 18%
Mike Huckabee 12%
Rudy Giuliani 11%
John McCain 7%
Tom Tancredo 5%
Ron Paul 4%
Sam Brownback 2%
Alan Keyes 2%
Duncan Hunter 1%
Not sure/Uncommitted 9%Survey of 405 likely Republican caucus participants was conducted October 1-3. The margin of error is +/- 4.9 percentage points.
Keyes' views on homosexuality and on a number of issues are extreme fringe, and I couldn't disagree with him more. But I think he should be allowed in these debates, because I don't think it is good for the GOP or the country to have the angry fringe he represents swept under the rug. It's not just that CNN is playing gatekeeper, because Keyes has no chance of ever winning the nomination.

What I think is happening is that the Romney people don't want him there, and CNN is delighted to keep him out. The race is very close, and Romney thinks he can corral the anti-gay Keyes voters by positing himself as the "conservative alternative" to the "liberal" Giuliani with all the "values" rhetoric. That Keyes is not there to call him on it suits him just fine.

I think that strategically, it suits CNN and the Clinton machine just fine too. Were Keyes and his supporters with their angry agenda allowed to be heard, it would be clarifying for the country. They would be able to vote, and everyone would know the actual strength -- in actual votes -- Keyes and what I call the "WorldNetDaily wing" would tally. At most, they'd get between 5% and 10%. I may be wrong, but that's my guess.

All the more reason to please, for God's sake, let them vote!

Identifying this vote is not in the interest of the left, because their goal is to claim that the entire Republican Party thinks that way. Thus, while it may be counterintuitive, it is in their interest (and Romney's interest) to marginalize the far right, and in this way, blur their numbers so that they look bigger than they are. Marginalization is in the interest of conflation.

Of course, I may be wrong, and the Keyes WorldNetDaily wing may be stronger than I think.

Isn't that all the more reason to find out?

MORE: Via PJM and Beltway Blogroll, I see that to some on the left, using Google to research people's political affiliations and find out what they have said is now considered "stalking."

Which makes me wonder whom I have stalked in writing this post. General Kerr? Alan Keyes? Mitt Romney? CNN? Who wrote the MyDD post, anyway? A guy named Todd Beeton?

Let's see. According to my quick stalk, here's his profile:

# Age: 36
# Gender: Male
# Astrological Sign: Aries
In an amazing, stupendous "coincidence," Hitler was also a male Aries! And when he was 36, while he might not have written for MyDD, he did publish Mein Kampf!

See? When you've stalked one 36 year old male Aries, you've stalked them all!

It's getting to the point where words don't mean anything.

UPDATE: "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL," says Glenn Reynolds (about CNN), who noted earlier that the prestigious bastions of respectable journalism aren't into asking or telling.

Glenn links Michelle Malkin, who has more on Kerr (including his airline ticket), along with another list of "other Democratic activists lurking in the YouTube garden." She also quotes a CNN exec who attempts to use the Ron Paul supporters as an excuse:

Whether through, as one blogger put, "constructive incompetence" or "convenient ineptitude," CNN has committed journalistic malpractice under the guise of "citizen" participation.

In a now richly ironic interview with Wired.- com before the debate, David Bohrman, a CNN senior vice president, explained why videos were picked not by popular vote, but by supposedly seasoned CNN journalists: The Web is still too immature a medium to set an agenda for a national debate, he claimed. "It's really easy for the campaigns to game the system." "You've seen how effective the Ron Paul campaign [supporters] have been on the Web," he noted. "You don't know if there are 40 or 4 million of them. It would be easy for a really organized campaign to stack the deck."

Yes, as a matter of fact it would!

Not that any of this would matter to CNN, but the YouTuber with the confederate flag (TheHoustonKid) is a not only a Ron Paul supporter, but you don't even have to resort to "stalking" to find that out; it's right there with his YouTube videos!



Who needs parody when you've got the "Clown News Network"?

Yeah, I know I said "Clinton New Network" earlier, but that's only because I was trying to parody something serious.

But with the Clown News Network, now I'm really serious!

MORE: It's a minor point, but on CNN, General Kerr described himself as "a retired brigadier general with 43 years of service he had 43 years of service." That is reflected here, which means the reference to 31 years in the article I quoted above is wrong. (It also states that his service began in 1953 and he formally retired in 1996, which means he would not have served under Truman. Using the wrong date above, I subtracted 43 from 1995.)

posted by Eric on 11.30.07 at 09:31 AM


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