Insidious Bias: CNN’s “Question of the Day”

“Today’s CNN Question of the Day: Do zombies make good Presidents?”

It is increasingly obvious that as President Obama’s re-election prospects appear more perilous, the mainstream media will throw objectivity, fairness and journalistic ethics to the winds in order to improve his prospects. Is this unfair, irresponsible and dishonest? Of course.

The trend is only beginning, but it is alarming to speculate how much worse it will get. It is only May, and the Washington Post has already published anti-Romney hit-pieces based on a prep school hazing incident and, this week, an 1897 massacre perpetrated by Mormons on Arkansas settlers. Yes, that’s “news” if you are dedicated to protecting your favorite President, and the fact that his Justice Department appears to be engaged in an illegal cover-up and obstruction of justice isn’t.

CNN’s mornings, meanwhile, are fast becoming the site of blatant and insidious Democratic Party propaganda. I swear, it wasn’t my fault: I have sworn off watching CNN’s twin Obama operatives, Soledad O’Brien and Carol Costello, for their routine pro-Democratic bias and sly Republican bashing, but my wife had switched on CNN just as I came into the living room to drink my first cup of coffee. Just as I reached for the remote, Costello made my head start to explode one more time, announcing, “The Question of the Day for viewers: Do CEO’s make good Presidents?”

She went on to explain, offering examples of  the kind of CEO’s her viewers should base their judgments on. “CEO’s like Donald Trump, Ross Perot, even Herman Cain [eye roll, sarcastic “what an idiot!” voice. Both O’Brien and Costello employ constant facial and vocal cues to show their favor or contempt.]President George W. Bush, viewers may remember, said that his would be a CEO presidency. So tell us your opinion: “Do CEO’s make good Presidents?”

I know we are up against Hanlon’s Razor here, as we often are when assessing the news media. A good argument could be made that this is just an astoundingly stupid question, rather than one intentionally crafted to raise doubts about Mitt Romney. After all, no true CEO has ever been elected President of the United States, so there is no evidence to base an opinion upon. The question itself is also incorrectly phrased; it is like asking “Do Hindu fakirs make good Presidents?”  “Do you think a CEO would make a good President?” is at least be consistent with the facts.

Costello’s examples of CEO’s to compare Mitt Romney to include one buffoon, Trump, who never has run for President, one third-party candidate widely ridiculed by the media and regarded as an eccentric by everyone else, and Herman Cain, who was thoroughly disgraced as a posturing know-nothing and likely serial harasser by the time he exited the GOP primaries. President Bush is unpopular with CNN’s audience, but could hardly be described as a CEO. He was president of a baseball team, which is often a part-time job and a largely ceremonial position, particularly in Bush’s case. More critically, Bush was elected as a multi-term Governor of Texas, not as a CEO. Since being President or running for President apparently wasn’t a criteria for being listed by Costello as an example of a CEO, why didn’t Costello mention any prominent CEO’s that its audience might have a positive opinion of, like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Ray Kroc, or Lee Iacocca?

You know why.

The objective of the contrived “Question of the Day” was to place Mitt Romney in a negative light, and assist the campaign of President Obama. The question doesn’t even apply to Romney, any more than it applies to Bush: Romney isn’t just a former CEO, but a former Governor of Massachusetts. Do Governors make good Presidents? That’s also a stupid question, since there have been good ones (Reagan, Jackson, Polk, both Roosevelts, Cleveland), bad ones (Carter, Van Buren, Wilson) and a lot in between, but at least there have been some, and Romney qualifies.

I know I haven’t cataloged all the fatuous CNN Questions of the Day, but I’m willing to bet my head that Carol never asked her audience in 2008, “Do community organizers with no executive or management experience whatsoever make good Presidents?” That question might have been one it would have been worthwhile for the public to think about, but CNN, like most of its news media colleagues, had other plans.

Obviously, it still does.



Spark: CNN

Source: Washington Post

Graphic: trendhunter

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

6 thoughts on “Insidious Bias: CNN’s “Question of the Day”

  1. George W. Bush was CEO of an energy company called Spectrum 7.

    Perhaps a better question to ask would be “Do businesspeople make good political leaders?” This is a very important question. Romney isn’t running on his reputation as a former governor but he is running on his reputation as a successful businessman who can improve the economy. Asking whether experience and success in business really does translate into success in governance is a perfectly reasonable question to ask (as was whether Barack Obama was qualified in 2008).

    • What part of his career Romney may be emphasizing is irrelevant to the question of what he is, what his background is, and what his record is. He is still a former CEO with major state executive experience, just as Dick Cheney (I’m stunned he wasn’t on Costello’s list) was a career public servant with experience as a CEO. If Obama had run as, say, a part-time college professor, that wouldn’t make the rest of his resume go away.

      I followed the 2000 election pretty closely, and missed Spectrum 7 completely. All I ever heard or read about was the Texas Rangers job. The energy company must not have been a big enough mess for the Democrats to feature it, or enough of a plus for Bush to boast about it. Thanks for the update.

      Even if we accept Bush as the single CEO to measure CEO/-Presidents by, Costello’s question is loaded and unfairly presented.

      • But if Obama had claimed that his experience as a part-time college professor was what made him qualified to be president then questioning that claim would be a legitimate thing to do.

        I didn’t know about Spectrum 7 either before today. I found it somewhat by accident when looking up the business credentials of past presidents (I knew Hoover was famous for business and I wondered if he was ever CEO. I don’t think he was).

        I would say that the question, as stated, is a bit odd, given the paucity of CEOs who have been president. A legitimate question to ask would be whether a CEO would make a good president. A better question would be whether success in business is correlated with success in governance. Many candidates advertise their private-sector experience on the basis that it makes them a “political outsider” and that it will give them some unique method of solving problems that “career politicians” have failed to solve. Questioning whether these claims are true is a very legitimate exercise.

  2. There’s another aspect of the bias here, in that the question presumes a certain image of a “stereotypical” CEO, and makes no allowance for differences in company size, market share, industry, etc.

    Technically, I’m a CEO of a small company with one employee and one shareholder (me). Does that somehow make me equally qualified to be President as Romney or anyone else listed above?


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