Accuracy in Media

On Thursday night, in his “Keeping Them Honest” segment, CNN’s Anderson Cooper challenged DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz over a fundraising email in which Wasserman-Schultz “misquoted” the Los Angeles Times in an effort to distort Mitt Romney’s stance on abortion.

The DNC email tried to tie Romney’s stance to that of Rep. Todd Akin, whose remarks this week on rape created a media firestorm that has given the Democrats new hope that they will be able to retain the Senate seat currently held by Claire McCaskill.

Cooper told viewers that the email said that the GOP “just voted to embrace Akin’s position by including a constitutional ban on all abortions — even in cases of rape or incest — in their 2012 platform,” adding that Wasserman-Schultz calls out Romney and Ryan by saying they “don’t entirely agree with that plank.” She then tries to use the Times to back up her assertion.

…But guess what? The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the platform was, and I quote, ‘written at the direction of Romney’s campaign.”

Cooper said those words did appear in the Times’ article, but that they were taken completely out of context as they were part of a sentence. He then proceeded to read the complete sentence:

There is no doubt about who is in charge, of course. Delegates for presumptive nominee Mitt Romney are voting down substantive changes to the platform language that was written at the direction of Romney’s campaign.

That is very different from what the DNC email tried to imply, according to Cooper, and he correctly points out that the abortion language in the 2012 platform is pretty much the same as the language in the 2008 and 2004 platforms, which obviously the Romney campaign didn’t write. Cooper added that CNN’s Peter Hamby was in the room while the language was being debated, and while Romney advisers were in the room, they didn’t make suggestions on the abortion plank.

Cooper then brought on Wasserman-Schultz and hammered her over the email.

COOPER: I guess I don’t understand that why in a fundraising appeal, you would, it  seems accidentally, completely misquote the LA Times. You make it sound like they’re saying something they’re not saying, and you’re using that as evidence to back up your position.

DWS: Anderson, it doesn’t matter any way you say it…it doesn’t, okay.

COOPER: It does. It matters, you’re misquoting the LA Times. You say something they didn’t say. You’re saying it’s proof of your position, and it’s actually not proof.

DWS: The reason we sent out that e-mail, and continue to send out e-mails, and to reach out to voters, we want them to know the difference between the two parties and the two parties’ candidates, of their position on a woman’s right to make reproductive choices, and Mitt Romney has a very extreme position on that issue.

COOPER: But I don’t like being misquoted, I don’t like being misquoted, the LA Times doesn’t like being misquoted to back a position, your political position. Why would you need to do that?

DWS: I’m sorry, there’s no getting around Mitt Romney when he accepts his party’s nomination for president of the United States next week, and when they adopt that platform, with that definition of rape or incest in it. That is Mitt Romney’s platform, and to suggest anything else is absolutely ludicrous and would be different than any other party convention.

COOPER: Do you just at least acknowledge the quote, that the quote you gave of the L.A.  Times is incorrect?

DWS: No, no I don’t acknowledge that if that’s what you’re saying, is that…

COOPER: Well I can read it to you now. I mean, what you said is the L.A.  Times…

DWS: What I’m saying, it doesn’t matter.

COOPER: What? What you’re saying does matter. You’re quoting the Times and again, you’re misquoting them, and to back up a position…

DWS: Your point? Anderson, the point of the e-mail is, there’s no getting around that, and I think you’d agree, is that there’s no way a presidential candidate, a party’s nominee, can separate himself from that party’s platform. There’s no exception to human life in the amendment.

Cooper told Wasserman-Schultz that by misquoting the Times, it doesn’t shore up her argument very well. She responded by saying that she saw his point, but the main thrust of her argument was that Romney is being disingenuous when it comes to a woman’s  reproductive rights and that he embraces an extreme position.

The only person being disingenuous, if not outright dishonest, is Wasserman-Schultz who refused to admit that she “misquoted” the L.A. Times article to suit the DNC”s own agenda against the Romney campaign.

Cooper deserves credit for his perseverance in the face of all the Democratic double-talk emanating from Wasserman-Schultz’s mouth.

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