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Tilting at Windmills

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November 3, 2008

IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY 'BEST'.... CNN's on-air political team just got a little bigger.

Frequent CNN guest, Stephen F. Hayes, has made it official by signing on with the network as a political contributor. Currently a senior writer at The Weekly Standard, Hayes will appear on the full line-up of CNN programming as part of the network's ideologically diverse group of analysts and contributors.

Hayes has a long history of reporting on the political world. In addition to his work with The Weekly Standard, Hayes' writings have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Reason and many other publications. Most recently, Hayes wrote Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President, a biography of Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Steve is a well-respected and knowledgeable journalist who already has become a natural part of CNN's political coverage," said Sam Feist, CNN's political director. "As part of the 'Best Political Team on Television,' Steve will help CNN in its commitment to go beyond political spin and present viewers with the most in-depth and bipartisan insights."

I don't think I've ever seen anyone use the words "Stephen Hayes" and "in-depth and bipartisan insights" in the same sentence before, but CNN's going to do what CNN's going to do. Yglesias has a pretty thorough take-down of why Hayes is a very poor choice.

But let's also consider this announcement in the broader context, and note the other most recent additions to the self-described "best political team on television."

The latest CNN team members include David Brody (conservative employee of radical TV preacher Pat Robertson), Alex Castellanos (conservative Republican), Tara Wall (of the conservative Washington Times), and Frances Fragos Townsend (Republican best known for misleading the media on a regular basis while working for a conservative Republican president). They joined J.C. Watts (conservative Republican) and William Bennett (conservative Republican) as part of CNN's political coverage.

Given his background, Hayes' CNN gig is arguably the most inexplicable of them all, but taken together, it's a helpful reminder of just how "liberal" the "liberal media" is.

Steve Benen 3:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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So, when James Earl Jones is saying "This is CNN", he really is doing it as noted progressive Darth Vader.

Posted by: freelunch on November 3, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

At least they got rid of the miserable Glenn Beck. That's go to count for something!

Posted by: AndrewBW on November 3, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative News Network. Finally. The liberal media bias was REALLY getting to me.

Posted by: Geoff on November 3, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK



Posted by: stormskies on November 3, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Another reason NOT to watch CNN. I don't see how you call any of the Weekly Standard guys "bipartisan". Add him to all the others and it looks like they are trying to make Fox News look mainstream. Thank GOD for NPR.

Posted by: MuddyLee on November 3, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Steve is a well-respected and knowledgeable journalist

and you most definitely have never seen 'well-respected and knowledgeable journalist' to describe hayes in any review of the work he has done.

'author' of the highly mocked hagiography of dick cheney; and propagandist who still pimps the saddam, 9/11 connection.

cnn continues its toilet swirling to the bottom of the media shithole.

Posted by: linda on November 3, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure which is worse, the political hacks or the woefully uninformed: Betty Nguyen, Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper, Rick Sanchez, Carol Costello, Josh Levs. In fact, Steve, I wish you would do a post on Levs' fact check sometime. It's either incredibly naive or disingenuous.

Posted by: Danp on November 3, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

CNN is gearing up for a Democratic Washington by stacking its team with conservatives. Unfortunately, they are picking all the wrong conservatives and ending up as the poor man's Fox News

Posted by: Patrix on November 3, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Just another reason to keep up my boycott of CNN. "Best political news team" yeah right. The right is awfully good at making people think they are somehow the persecuted ones.

Posted by: ENS on November 3, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Probably a smart move by CNN. They may be thinking that they can outflank FNC by providing conservative voices balanced with liberal ones. If FNC jumps the shark over the next four years and really goes off the deep end, CNN may be well poised to capture some of their viewership.

I think CNN has been pretty solidly behind Obama in this race, so I'm not concerned that they are becoming ideologically unbalanced by hiring conservatives.

(My evidence that they've supported Obama consists mainly of the stories they choose to run on their web page and their ticker each day. On balance, those stories tend to be favorable to Obama. You can see the same thing by going to FNC's front page, although FNC's bias for McCain is significantly more pronounced. BTW, I would guess CNN's bias is driven by business considerations, given its audience demographics, rather than top-down partisan bias).

Posted by: mk on November 3, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

What else does anyone expect when virtually all of the mass media in America is owned and controlled by a handful of giant, for-profit corporations, who have BILLIONS of dollars at stake in putting right-wing extremist politicians in power?

Why in the world would these corporations NOT use their control over the flow of information to propagandize the American people in furtherance of their economic interests and agenda?

One of the great scandals of our age is the shocking, enormous conflict of interest on the part of the corporate mass media in "reporting" on candidates and elections when they have BILLIONS of dollars riding on the tax and deregulatory policies of right-wing Republican candidates.

Oddly enough, that's a scandal that CNN and the rest of the corporate media will never, ever, ever cover.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 3, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

David Gergen is always worth listening to, and Alex Costellanos surprised me recently with some very honest commentary.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on November 3, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

its a secret liberal conspiracy. just like there has long been thought a tendency of Supreme Court justices to moderate over their tenures (often surprising their appointing party), righties hired as part of CNN's political team, perhaps spellbound by the charms of Donna Brazile (snark!), move left.

Ms. Dan Senor ripping a McCain flak to shreds? check.

Alex Castellanos calling most of the debates for Obama? check.

Soon, Hayes will be praising Obama with the best of them while Toobin, Brazile, and Carville just grin off camera.


Posted by: zeitgeist on November 3, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Thank GOD for NPR. -MuddyLee

Right, with noted progressives like Mara Liason and Juan Williams. Nice Polite Republicans, only you can practically drop the 'polite' these days.

Posted by: doubtful on November 3, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine among the strongly pro-defense, jingoists men who make up CNN's team, not one served in the military. Of course, that won't stop CNN from promoting Stevie Hayes as a national security expert. (Though the entire arc of his "expereince" is derived from rading books.)

Posted by: Tec619 on November 3, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

At least they don't claim to be fair and balanced.

Posted by: just guessing on November 3, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Time to move to MSNBC on a fulltime basis. CNN has really stacked it's lopsided coverage. Who was the last liberal they hired? Dana Milbank is OK.

Posted by: Patrick on November 3, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

My evidence that they've supported Obama consists mainly of the stories they choose to run on their web page and their ticker each day. On balance, those stories tend to be favorable to Obama.

So, your "evidence" for pro-Obama bias at CNN consists of the fact that the Obama campaign is a well-run machine that doesn't generate bad news while the McCain campaign has been just about the most awful campaign run in modern political history?

I don't really see how this puts CNN "in the tank" for Obama at all - it just means that they're less willing to lie about reality than Fox News is. Obama hasn't been doing stupid things, McCain has. Ergo, McCain gets terrible news coverage, Obama doesn't.

Posted by: NonyNony on November 3, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget Amy Holmes. She was on Real Time with Bill Maher last weekend, and it was clear that she hasn't just been drinking the Republican Kool-Aid, she's been funneling, smoking, free-basing, shooting, and snorting the Republican Kool-Aid.

Her only departure from straight talking points was to put a mild amount of distance between herself and those who label parts of the country as "Real America" and others as "Not real America".

Posted by: Fides on November 3, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Corpophilic News Network has signed on Michelle Malkin as well! Yay, all shitty all the time!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on November 3, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Oopsy! The Corprophilic News Network... I ate shit on that one!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on November 3, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Coprophilic. Really didn't mean all that.

Posted by: on November 3, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I've got to had it to the conservatives on this one. I didn't see how gullible the news media could become until this election cycle...

I had previously wondered why they kept up with this 'liberal media' schtick when it appeared to not be working for all these years... I now know that it has begun to pay dividends for them.

Between not calling McCain-Palin on blatant lies and mischaracterizations throughout this season and now the continual hiring of conservatives to placate the media criers, this has become quite the effective strategy.

Bravo, conservatives, bravo! On this issue you played chess to the 'liberal media's' checkers...

Posted by: Mike on November 3, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

BBC America. It's the only place to get actual Walter-Cronkite news.

Cannot WAIT to see their election coverage tomorrow night.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on November 3, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Fides - You said it about Amy Holmes. Total kool aid consumer down to the wire . It's almost like they have in their minds ...now if I persue this totaly insane line of defence , someone will hire me for big bucks because I am reasonably attractive and "look " like someone who should be in the bag for Obama. Dating myself , but like Frank Zappa said "We're only in it for the money"
I put her in the class of paid pundits like Pat Robertson who I know at times don't even believe the swill they spout. It's their job and if they were reasonable -no one would hire them. I wonder how much they get paid?

Posted by: John R on November 3, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

@ Yellow Dog No forget that -the real entertainment will be watching Faux News , watching them spin the demise of western civilization as we slowly slip into that socialist- marxist - muslum terrist' loving presidency that will be Barack Obama

Posted by: John R on November 3, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

CNN is laboring under the delusion that if they hire Fox News-quality talking heads they'll get Fox News-quality ratings.

Look at the pattern in just the past year or so. Glenn Beck, now Hayes, then the next -- all hired in the name of a false-idol ("ideological diversity") that bears CNN no fruits.

You figure they've got a king-hell chip on their shoulder, after all CNN "invented" cable news, because they get their butts kicked regularly by Faux.

So they're just trying to Faux-up a little.

The sad thing is -- it doesn't work but CNN keeps pitching.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on November 3, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Makes me glad we dropped cable last year. Not a dime of mine going to Cesspool News Network.

Posted by: jimBOB on November 3, 2008 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh, I literally can't stand to watch Steven Hayes' smug, self-serving dissembling and dishonesty... who's in charge at CNN now?

Posted by: NewHorizons on November 4, 2008 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK



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