Unethical Quote of the Week: CNN Morning Anchor Carol Costello

“There was criticism when Jim Lehrer was initially named to be a moderator. People said: ‘oh, another white guy; he’s too old to be doing this; we live in a new world — we don’t need an old-fashioned journalist doing these things any longer.’”

—-CNN Morning host Carol Costello, communing with PBS head Paula Kerger over Mitt Romney’s (obviously correct) assertion that public support for PBS has got to go, and joining in the despicable Democratic spin that President Obama’s less-than-stellar performance in the first debate was moderator Jim Lehrer’s fault.

Worst of the worst? I mean, if you don’t count MSNBC?

Carol Costello, Soledad O’Brien; Soledad O’Brien Carol Costello. Who is the most biased, smug, unethical news host not on MSNBC? Just when I think O’Brien has locked up the prize, Costello comes roaring back with something like this.

She ought to be fired. It’s as simple as that. Her statement is racist and ageist in the worst sense or the words; her implication is an unforgivable insult to a veteran newsman infinitely her superior, and her the content of her statement is proof of a deficient mind. Fire her. The AARP should demand it; the Republican should demand it; the Democrats should demand it, and CNN should see it as essential to maintaining whatever shred of credibility and integrity it has left.

  • Whenever a journalist begins a statement with “People said…” like Costello did, make no mistake: that’s what the journalist thinks, but doesn’t have the guts to admit to it.
  • What does the color of the debate moderator have to do with anything? Is she suggesting that Jim Lehrer, a dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying liberal if there ever was one, was trying to assist Romney because he was white? What incident or statement in Lehrer’s long and distinguished career justifies such an accusation? None. Or is Costello suggesting that all whites are likely to be in the tank for Obama? That’s ironic, since over 90% of all blacks are determined to support the President regardless of his policies, and whites are roughly evenly split on the President. The last African American to moderate a debate, PBS’s Gwen Ifill, actually was in the tank for Obama, and managed to nab her assignment without revealing that she had inked a contract to author a celebratory book about Barack’s glorious rise, a project which would have been passing strange for an objective journalist to embark on, and one which would benefit greatly (and financially) from an electoral victory. The odds say that the chances of having a biased moderator in these debates are a lot higher with a black moderator than a white one: presumably this is what “people” like Costello want.
  • As we saw with the attacks on John McCain in 2008, deriding professionals because of their age accompanies ridiculing people because of their weight as acceptable forms of bigotry on the Left. (Also on the list: mocking all religious people–except Muslims, of course—and males.) I want to hear a credible Democrat or liberal journalist (but I repeat myself) condemn outrageous statements like Costello’s. Where are Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, when a respected colleague like Jim Lehrer is being mocked by a hack like Carol Costello?
  • “Old fashioned journalist” means one who has professional standards, who tries to be objective, who doesn’t impose his or her views on the coverage, who is respectful toward the pioneers in the field, and who doesn’t make racist and ageist statements—unlike Costello, the epitome of the “new” journalist, who is not a journalist at all.

Lehrer defended his work in an interview with Politico, though he shouldn’t have had to. The President got four more minutes to talk than Romney; the fact that he couldn’t do as much with his time is not Lehrer’s fault.


“Based on what the goal was, I saw it as successful I’ve always said this and finally I had a chance to demonstrate it: The moderator should be seen little and heard even less. It is up to the candidates to ask the follow-up questions and challenge one another. I don’t consider that being passive, I consider it being effective. It’s not my job to control the conversation. If the candidates gave me resistance, and I let them talk, to me that’s being an active moderator, not a passive moderator.”

Exactly. The purpose of the debates is for the public to hear from the candidates, not the moderator, and the less moderation the better.

A bit off topic, but still concerning the disgraceful Costello, is the question she asked to Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Belart:

CAROL COSTELLO: Congressman, the moment that resonated probably the most with viewers was Mitt Romney’s comments on Big Bird and taking money away from the program, PBS. Some people say why are you picking on Big Bird, of all things?

Fire her. Too dumb, too biased, too dishonest to be allowed to rot the brains of vulnerable Americans:

  • “Some people,” Carol?
  • If, as Costello claims, the moment “that resonated most” with the public was Mitt Romney’s statement that at a time of massive debt we shouldn’t be paying public funds for an elite TV network that duplicates commercial content or a program like Sesame Street, which would have no trouble at all finding private sponsorship, then the American public is too stupid for democracy. When the U.S. ends up in the throes of fiscal collapse like Greece and Spain, they will have richly deserved every aspect of their pain. A 90 minute, articulate and dynamic debate covering unemployment, the debt and the economy, and Big Bird was the takeaway for Costello? What is she, six? Or does she think the American public is six?

Costello’s perception matches her political bias and journalism incompetence with an IQ deficit that is shocking to behold. Here is the some of the subsequent exchange:

DIAZ-BALART: (Laughs) Big Bird is a multi, multi, multimillion dollar venture. Big Bird will be fine, trust me. The question is does Big Bird still need to be on welfare? Does the taxpayer need to be funding a multimillion dollar venture? Big Bird is always going to be on TV but the question is should we be sending hard-earned taxpayer money to, you know, an entity that is a multi-million dollar entity that’s going to be there with or without taxpayer subsidy? And again having to borrow money from China —

COSTELLO: Well, I just – I actually just talked to the CEO — I just talked to the CEO and president of PBS. She says that money from the government doesn’t go directly to Sesame Street. It goes to member stations and then they decide what to do with the money, and this has been a great public-private partnership. Sesame Street, she says, is America’s like — poor kids get their education from Sesame Street. This is a show that is beloved by millions of Americans.

The CEO of  PBS is expected to be an advocate for the station: that’s his job. It’s not Costello’s job, however, and for her to regurgitate PBS lobbying points that are decades old as fact is journalism at its worst. So its been a great private-public partnership—so what? Times change, and so do priorities. “Poor kids get their education from Sesame Street”…a gross exaggeration. We are talking pre-school; the number of poor children who depend on Sesame Street is uncertain at best, and there isn’t even consensus regarding how effective the show is. The show is beloved by millions of Americans…again, so what? That’s the criteria for what tax-payer dollars should be paying for, what is “beloved”?

DIAZ-BALART: Two things. First place, Sesame Street is always going to be there with or without taxpayer subsidy. So that’s a red herring and you know, that was I think, a pretty light moment. And now, to talk about —

COSTELLO: Well, I’m not sure that it is a red herring, because the amount of money given by the government to PBS stations is a drop in the bucket in comparison with what other things the government pays money for.

Of course! The fatuous “drop in the bucket” argument that has stuffed the U.S. deficit with pork and trivia for decades! How will the country ever be able to make necessary budget cuts in major, substantive programs when fools like Costello keep  telling the public that there’s no point in cutting programs we can obviously live without? If you cut enough “drops in the bucket,’ and believe me, there are a lot of them, eventually you will cut the equivalent of Lake Erie, which, believe it or not, is made up of drops.

Carol Costello needs to be fired. She is a bigot, she is partisan, and she is a fool. Even among “new journalists,” she is at the bottom of a very smelly barrel.

Now let’s see if Soledad can top her.

I’m betting she’s up to it.


Pointer: Rush Limbaugh


Source: Politico

Graphic: All Things CNN

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  jamproethics@verizon.net.

5 thoughts on “Unethical Quote of the Week: CNN Morning Anchor Carol Costello

  1. Oh, trust me, Jack – Soledad’s up to it. The question is when.

    As you’ve implied without specifically stating in this (and a previous) post, the grumbles about Lehrer are coming primarily from Obama supporters eager for someone to blame for Obama’s lousy performance.

    Count me as one who thought Wednesday night offered the first true presidential debate I can remember, in which candidates actually had a chance to challenge and respond to one another. There was no cowering on the ropes until the bell rang and the next two-minute round began. It was a real debate, and I want to see more of this, regardless of which candidate performs better.

    Lehrer let America see what Romney and Obama had to offer. That was a service to the nation far beyond what previous moderators and debate formats have provided.

  2. Ageist? Clearly, and that’s totally inexcusable.

    Racist? Ha. I love it when folks get all up in arms because someone pointed out, “it’s always the white guy.” Because, face it, it’s always the white guy. Bringing up his race isn’t racist, it’s pointing out that there’s still more white faces on the television news than any other color.

    What bothers me most about your accusation of racism is the presumption that there are only black people and white people who could moderate a Presidential debate. How about an Asian-American moderator? Or American Native? Or Pacific Islander?

    In that vein, I’m amazed you didn’t scream sexism because she pointed out he’s a man, too.

    So, the current mass media claim is that PBS is 0.0016% of the US budget. If this is true, that calls to mind basic budgeting 101.

    When you’re trying to save money in your home budget, do you do away with the things that cost one or two dollars a month? Or do you carve back on the things that cost one or two hundred dollars a month?

    • It was sexism. I just didn’t scream it. You’re absurd. Would it be racist if Costello said, “It’s always the black guy” commenting on a crack arrest?
      The point is that the race of a debate moderator is and should be 100% irrelevant, except to affirmative action addicts and racists/sexists like Costello. Who cares how many racial/ ethnic groups you can come up with? Completely without merit.

      “When you’re trying to save money in your home budget, do you do away with the things that cost one or two dollars a month? Or do you carve back on the things that cost one or two hundred dollars a month?”

      You do both, of course, especially when there is also a multi-trillion debt to pay off. Mere savings aren’t enough, you see. Yours is the most irresponsible of arguments, and it amazes me that it continues to suck people in. Lots of little cuts add up to big ones. Sesame Street should have taught you that.

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