CNSNews.com kicked off its summer of sending its interns to pester members of Congress with gotcha questions by asking them about federal deficits (while not really caring about them when Donald Trump was president and Republicans controlled half of Congress). For the next round, the interns invoked the hot-button issue of abortion: "The Supreme Court this fall will review a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Is an unborn baby at 15 weeks a human being?" They also asked a follow-up gotcha for those -- namely, Democrats -- who did not give the conservatively correct answer: "If an unborn baby is not a human being, what species is it?" Democrats who declined to give a direct yes-or-no answer to CNS' questions -- undoubtedly recognizing the gotcha nature of these questions -- got the headline accusation that they "dodge[d]" the question.
Here are the senators wwho were the victims of this ambush:
- Tammy Baldwin (D)
- Dick Durbin (D)
- Bernie Sanders (I)
- Mazie Horono (D)
- John Kennedy (R)
- John Hoeven (R)
- Ted Cruz (R)
- Mitt Romney (R)
- Dianne Feinstein (D)
- Ben Ray Lujan (D)
- Josh Hawley (R)
- Debbie Stabenow (D)
- Joni Ernst (R)
- Roger Wicker (R)
- James Lankford (R)
- Chris Murphy (D)
- Jon OSsoff (D)
- Tim Kaine (D)
- Lindsey Graham (R)
- Marsha Blackburn (R)
- Mike Braun (R)
- Richard Shelby (R)
- Mark Kelly (D)
Again, these questions are nothing a biased partisan exercise, designed to give Republicans a platform to virtue-signal on the evils of abortion and to shame Democrats for not restricting the rights of women or being eager to overturn a half-century of Supreme Court precedent.
CNS thought this was such an important question to attack Democrats with that it widened the scope of its targets. An intern was sent to Nancy Pelosi's weekly press conference to ambush her:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) did not directly respond to a question from CNSNews.com—predicated on the upcoming Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—on whether a 15-week-old unborn baby is a human being.
“Let me just say that I’m a big supporter of Roe vs. Wade,” Pelosi said.
Without answering that question, Pelosi turned and pointed to another reporter, who she recognized by saying: “Yes. Yes, ma’am.”
The goal of that exercise was to get bigger play out of the gotcha, and that's exactly what happened. Another media outlet noted the question, and Cruz bashed Pelosi for not answering the question, and CNS got an article out of that too.
CNS even sent what passes for an actual reporter, Melanie Arter, to White House press secretary Jen Psaki's daily press briefing to ask the question, wich got Psaki slapped with the "dodge" label:
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday dodged the question of whether President Joe Biden believes a 15-week-old unborn baby is a human being.
Instead, Psaki said Monday that Biden supports a woman’s right to choose.
At the White House press briefing, CNSNews.com asked Psaki: “Does the president believe a 15-week old unborn baby is a human being?”
“Are you asking me if the president supports a woman’s right to choose? He does,” Psaki replied.
This is the first time in recent memory that CNS has sent a reporter to a White House press briefing. The fact that it used that rare appearance to ask a politicized gotcha question says much about the state of journalism at CNS these days.