ConWebWatch home
ConWebBlog: the weblog of ConWebWatch
Search and browse through the ConWebWatch archive
About ConWebWatch
Who's behind the news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
Letters to and from ConWebWatch
ConWebWatch Links
Buy books and more through ConWebWatch

CNS' Democrat-Bashing Template greeted Democratic presidential primary victories by Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden with a flurry of negative attacks on them.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/15/2020 -- despite its mission statement that it's for people "who put a higher premium on balance than spin" -- is rife with spin against liberals and Democrats, and Democratic presidential candidates in particular. It has ramped up that bias as the Democratic presidential primaries heated up.

In fact, CNS demonstrated a certain pattern of coverage this year: If a certain candidate did well in a primary or caucus, he was targeted with a barrage on negative attacks and stories.

Let's examine how this template manifested itself with this year's crop of Democratic presidential candidates.

Pete Buttigieg

We've documented how the gay-haters at are desperate to remind you that Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is gay and married to a man. With Buttigieg's emergence as a major candidate following a strong performance in the Iowa caucuses, CNS suddenly felt the need to drive home that message anew.

CNS previewed that gay-obsessed treatment around the beginning of the year, starting with a Dec. 26 article by notoriously homophobic managing editor Michael W. Chapman on criminal justice reform included for no apparent reason the irrelevant statement that "Pete Buttigieg, 37, is openly gay and is 'married' to Chasten Glezman, 30, a high school teacher. The two men met on the dating app Hinge." This is the second time that Chapman has irrelevantly noted that Buttigieg and his husband met on a dating app.

That was followed by a trio of articles demonstrating CNS' curiously sudden interest in the views of Chasten Buttigieg via anonymously written articles:

  • Dec. 27: "Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, currently refers to himself as the 'First Gent of South Bend' on Twitter and refers to himself as the 'First Gentleman' when he discusses what he will do if husband Pete becomes president of the United States."
  • Jan. 2: "When John Dickerson visited South Bend, Ind., to interview Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, for the April 21 edition of 'CBS Sunday Morning,' he asked Chasten when Pete first mentioned the possibility of running for president. Chasten said it happened 'when we were getting ready for bed and I was folding some laundry.'"
  • Jan. 3: "In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Chasten Buttigieg, husband of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg explained why he became a school teacher. 'There’s just something magical about working with kids and getting them to believe in themselves,' Chasten Buttigieg said in response to a question from host John Dickerson.

CNS served up other weirdness in an anonymously written Jan. 8 article, which covered something Buttigieg said on a talk show... four months earlier. The only apparent news hook in the article is a note that Buttigieg is tied for first place in Iowa caucus polling.

The attacks ramped up after Buttigieg's strong Iowa showing. An anonymously written Feb. 7 article carried the headline "Buttigieg on What U.S. Looks Like to Teens: ‘They See Gay Nightclubs Opening Up Across the Country’" and made sure to warn readers: "Buttigieg himself is an avowed homosexual who is in a same-sex marriage." We suspect that CNS has never called anyone an "avowed heterosexual." The sexuality-obsessed hits kept coming after that -- an apparent attempt to dog-whistle its right-wing readership -- which made sure to rope in Buttigieg's "same-sex husband," Chasten (most of which, oddly, are anonymously written). Here's what CNS published on Buttigieg in the two weeks since the Iowa caucuses:

That's 13 articles in two weeks directly or obliquely referencing Buttigieg's sexuality.

That onslaught was joined by CNS reproducing a Feb. 13 column by gay-hating WorldNetDaily columnist Michael Brown under the headline "I Will Say What the Political Leaders Cannot Say about Pete Buttigieg" in which he did exactly that: "Choosing an out and proud 'married' gay man to run for president, let alone become president, would contribute to the further degeneration and moral confusion of our society along with further attacks on our most fundamental rights."

By contrast, CNS published just a few articles about Buttigieg's political positions, most of which were cherry-picked and slanted to make him appear as liberal as possible:

Given that CNS' news coverage appears to be directed by the gay-bashing Chapman, its obsession with Buttigieg's sexuality should not be a surprise.

Bernie Sanders

Like Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders made a good showing in Iowa. Like Buttigieg, CNS panicked and targeted Sanders with negative reporting designed to trigger its right-wing readership by hammering on a single point. With Buttigieg, it was his sexuality; with Sanders, it was hanging the word "socialist" or "communist" on him at every opportunity, with the word itself or others implying extremism (from CNS' right-wing point of view, that is), attacking his policies, or digging up decades-old statements by the senator.

Here's what CNS has published on Sanders and socialism since the Iowa caucuses:

Regarding Sanders' statements praising certain policies in China and Cuba, CNS typically buried or censored completely Sanders prefacing the statement by expressing his opposition to authoritarian regimes. That statement never made any CNS headline, of course.

(By contrast, CNS has praised right-wing authoritarians for their anti-gay policies without mentioning their authoritarianism. In a Feb. 18 article, managing editor Chapman gushed that Russian President Vladimir Putin said "as long as I'm president" there will be no "gay marriage" in Russia and "there will be dad and mum," not "parent number 1" and "parent number 2." Chapman further touted how "In 2013, Russia enacted a law that prohibits the promotion of homosexual propaganda to minor youth and children, through print, radio, television and the Internet.")

Those weren't the only attacks, of course. Craig Bannister did his bit as a Trump campaign surrogate by cheering how "Rudy Giuliani posted an embarrassing video of Sanders on Twitter," and loyal stenographer Melanie Arter highlighted how President Trump claimed without evidence that "Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is leaking information on Russia, because the Democrats don’t want Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to represent them" (not that Arter made an effort to fact-check Trump, of course).

CNS even tried to play gotcha with Sanders in an anonymously written Feb. 7 article:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D.-Vt.) says on the website for his presidential campaign that “[c]limate change is a global emergency” and “the Arctic is on fire.”

By contrast, the National Weather Service is reporting today that it is 45 degrees below zero in Nuiqsuit, which is in northern Alaska.

The weather service is predicting that the high today in that part of Alaska will be 44 degrees below zero and the low will be 47 degrees below zero.

That, of course, is an old right-wing climate denier trope, claiming that the fact that it still gets cold in the winter disproves the fact that the earth is getting warmer. In fact, Arctic temperatures are the second warmest on record, and permafrost and ice sheets are melting.

CNS knows that its parent, the Media Research Center, will never apply the standards of fairness and balance to it that the MRC demands from other media outlets -- after all, CNS' "media bias" is one that its parent approves of.

Joe Biden

As with Buttigieg and Sanders before him, CNS followed news of Joe Biden's Democratic primary election victories with personal attacks and smears, particularly focused on portraying him as mentally unstable.

CNS did note that Biden won big in South Carolina on Feb. 29, but tipped its eventual hostile and biased direction a couple days earlier with an article by Susan Jones highlighting a Biden statement that he would have President Trump "escorted out of the White House" if he refused to concede defeat if he lost re-election. Susan Jones sneered of the question asked of Biden at a CNN town hall: "Silly question? You be the judge."

After the South Carolina win, though, CNS started cherry-picking Biden with an emphasis on making him alternately a dangerous, calculating demagogue and more than a little out of it:

After Biden won most states on Super Tuesday, CNS acknowledged that fact -- then spent the following days smearing him as mentally defective (yet also calculating and extreme):

The author of that last item, Craig Bannister, didn't mention that Giuliani has had his own mental health questioned.

And since Bernie Sanders was still a viable candidate at this point, CNS sent a few attacks his way as well. First up was an anonymously written item with the alarmist headline "Bernie Sanders: ‘Banning Abortion Will, Quite Literally, Kill Women’" (which, of course, the anonymous writer didn't dispute).

That was followed by a March 9 article by Jones attempting to paint Sanders as a hypocrite: "Sanders: Americans' Health Is 'Most Important,' But He's Not Ready to Cancel Rallies." But Jones censored that fact that CNN's Jake Tapper also referenced President Trump in his question to Sanders, as well as Biden, since all three are "older Americans" who face a higher risk from coronavirus.

Even as coronavirus has become the story of the year, CNS did not stop writing about Biden with spin to deliberately make him look bad.

An anonymously written March 13 article took a Biden comment on coronavirus out of context to up the ridiculous factor with the headline "Joe Biden Advises Americans to Stop Hugging Each Other."That was joined by another anonymous article claiming that Biden "is promising as part of his 'education' plan to send what he calls “child development specialists” into the homes of Americans who have young children. The program was initiated under Obamacare." Ooh, scary!

A March 16 article by Susan Jones went for old-fashioned right-wing scare tactics with the headline "Biden Would Immediately End All Deportations, Except for Felons." That was followed by another anonymously written article which focused on Biden having "vowed that he and Sen. Bernie Sanders 'share a common vision.'"

From there, it was a group of articles by Jones that vacillated between making Biden look either ridiculous and scary:

Jones' intent to mock and smear was made even more clear in which she made an awkwardly worded quote from Biden the headline: "Biden: Trump 'Has to be Able to Provide For Providing Significantly No More Masks'." (This was originally headlined "Even Looking at Written Prompts, Biden Doesn't Make Sense"; CNS did not disclose to readers that the headline was changed, let alone explain why.) We can't recall Jones or CNS giving President Trump the same editorial treatment even though there's no end to the strange and confusing things he says.

Then it was back to anonymity for an April 2 article complaining that Biden issued a tweet in Spanish urging people to complete their census forms. The anonymous writer huffed: "Biden did provide an English version of his tweet for Americans who do not know Spanish. But he did not send out the Tweet in Ukrainian or Chinese--or any other languages other than Spanish and English." The writer did not explain why Biden should have to issue his statement in every possible language.

It's abundantly clear that CNS has no interest in reporting fairly on Biden, just as it has no interest in reporting critically on President Trump.

Send this page to:

Bookmark and Share
The latest from

In Association with
Support This Site

home | letters | archive | about | primer | links | shop
This site © Copyright 2000-2020 Terry Krepel