You might think such a lecturing news outlet would adhere to strict ethical standards.
“If Kamala Harris were president of the United States I would sleep like a baby. She is not to be messed with.” These were the words of CNN analyst Van Jones, following the second DNC debate held on June 27. This past Monday pundit Ana Navaro gleefully posted a tweet announcing a Harris jump in the polls. Following that, reporter April Ryan declared, “This president has a problem with strong black women,” in trying to create a third party smear involving Kamala Harris.
To say that CNN has taken a favorable view of Harris is being charitable. What needs to be pointed out is that the network has literally been charitable to the Senator from California. Considering the level of support and defense offered for the politician running for the highest office would it not seem needed that it is announced on air the corporate donations Harris has been receiving from the owners of CNN?
The Ryan charge comes as a result of reports which I recently covered regarding CNN’s attempt to describe questions about the ethnic background of Kamala Harris as originating from those on the right. In the loosest way possible the woman who invoked her race at the debate was said to have been smeared by Donald Trump Jr. for raising the question about her race. (He actually had not.) This exaggerated claim was then forwarded over the President himself by Ryan, and suddenly Donald Trump is believed to have said something racist in regards to a potential challenger for the White House.
Lost amid all of this finger-pointing was that CNN anchor Don Lemon had in fact been one source who brought the Kamala Harris ethnicity into question. And not quietly. He gave voice to doubting her true blackness, on his primetime program — in a discussion with April Ryan herself!
But amid this wholesale support seemingly taking place on air with CNN personalities would it not be reasonable to ask why the network has not disclosed the financial support of Harris, matching its verbal support? At Open Secrets, they show the listings of those who have given to the Harris campaign in what it declares “The 2020 Cycle”. The second largest contributor to the Senator is AT&T Inc., the parent company of CNN. To date, she has received over $53,000 from this source.
As described by Open Secrets, these donations are described thusly: “The money came from the organizations’ PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families.” This is what gives some cover. It can be said these are not formal donations from the company itself, but individual employees acting of their own motivation. This does little to dispel the image of bias towards the candidate.
By the same template, the next highest total for a Democrat running is Cory Booker, and he has received from AT&T far less than one half of the Kamala Harris figure — around $21,000.
Further, there appears to be a dose of entrenched support for the Senator from the prior years, involving the last owner of the network, Time-Warner Media. In the time of her Senate campaign, and intervening years, Time-Warner was among her top donors, again using the same measurements. So in describing the donations as coming from individual employees, it appears the staff at CNN has been favoring the candidate for some time, and is continuing to do so in the coming Presidential race.
It should be time for CNN to come forward with this donor detail. Otherwise, all of the on-air support she has been receiving from the network could be regarded as an in-kind donation that should be recorded with the Federal Election Commission.