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Monday, October 15, 2007
CNS' Misleading Questions to Congress

We've noted that has taken to Capitol Hill to ambush congressman with questions (starting out by hitting them up on the underground subway system that links the Capitol to congressional office buildings). CNS has been keeping it up, and the questions have become more slanted and less reflective of reality.

An Oct. 11 article by Monisha Bansal on a congressional battle over whether to grant retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who cooperated with the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program reported: "Cybercast News Service hit Capitol Hill Wednesday to ask members of Congress if they would support giving the companies immunity, with the following question: 'Should the government ever prosecute communications companies for helping the government intercept international communications with suspected al Qaeda links in the years after 9/11?'" 

The wording of the question -- which fails to mention the words "retroactive" and "illegal" -- ignores the fact that the telecom companies wouldn't need immunity if the behavior in question wasn't illegal. It also ignores the flip side of that: allegations that telecom companies such as Qwest were retaliated against by the federal government because they refused to cooperate.

Similarly, an Oct. 3 article by Monisha Bansal and Nathan Burchfiel on the amending of a defense authorization bill to extend hate crimes legislation to cover sexual orientation and gender identity noted, "Some observers think the hate crimes legislation goes beyond criminalizing actions and actually criminalizes points of view." Who are those "some people"? Bansal and Burchfiel don't tell us. Then they forwarded their question of the day: "On Tuesday, Cybercast News Service hit Capitol Hill to ask members of Congress if the government should criminalize points of view and which views should be criminalized."

Nowhere did Bansal and Burchfiel note -- as the Democratic members of Congress the questioned pointed out -- that the amendment has an religious exemption.

CNS' goal with these ambush interviews, as we noted, appears to be to catch liberal politicians making an embarassing off-message statement. Otherwise, the questions would be more factual and balanced.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:13 AM EDT

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