Known for its pro-Clinton bias, CNN has been called the Clinton News Network. But now, with Clinton unable to run for another term as president, the news organization founded by Ted Turner has apparently decided to transfer some of that bias to Clinton’s designated successor, Vice President Al Gore. Until an avalanche of criticism forced it to change course, CNN was preparing to let Gore guest-host CNN’s “Larry King Live” show, where he would have postured as protector of America’s youth in the wake of the Colorado school shootings.
Gore was supposed to have been the host of the show, and one of his guests was going to be popular talk show host Oprah Winfrey. When CNN came to its senses and decided to allow Gore to appear as a guest only, Winfrey canceled her appearance. CNN “came to its senses” only under enormous pressure. As detailed in a Washington Post story by Howard Kurtz, the Republican National Committee had sent letters and e-mails to CNN protesting Gore’s scheduled appearance as host. Republican chairman Jim Nicholson said the program would have been “a contribution of free air time to the ‘Gore for President Campaign.’” He said, in fairness, that an equal amount of time, an hour, should be offered to all of the other Republican presidential candidates as well as Democratic contender Bill Bradley.
Kurtz noted that a rival to the presidency could have challenged the Gore appearance on CNN as an “in-kind” corporate contribution to his presidential campaign. Indeed, the Federal Election Commission had filed suit over 1996 presidential candidate Steve Forbes writing a regular column in his own magazine. The agency claimed the column amounted to an illegal contribution to his own campaign. The suit was later dropped.
The Post noted that, besides the complaints from Republicans, CNN’s own staffers were outraged over Gore’s scheduled appearance. CNN White House reporter John King said it raised questions “about our objectivity.” He explained, “If we are going to give him an hour, how can we defend not giving every other candidate the same opportunity?”
But CNN isn’t the only network facing accusations of bias. Katie Couric, co-host of NBC’s Today Show, is known to be very close to Hillary Clinton, and she recently conducted a soft-ball interview of the president himself. This interview, which aired on NBC, allowed Clinton to exploit the Colorado shootings by appearing tough on the issue of gun control. Clinton made the sensational claim that the Brady Bill, which mandated a waiting period before a gun purchase so a background check could be made, had “kept a quarter of a million people from getting guns who had questionable backgrounds.” But there’s no hard evidence that these people were actually stopped from getting guns because Clinton doesn’t know how many of them proceeded to get weapons illegally.
Moving over to CBS, the network has announced the Bryant Gumbel is taking over as host of its morning news program. He used to be the co-host of the NBC Today Show, where his liberal bias was legendary. His interviews of Clinton could make Katie Couric look like a tough reporter.