The idea that much of our nation’s media in their coverage of the Presidential election has exhibited a bias in favor of Senator Obama has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, even recently prompting the McCain campaign to release a video of quotes to illustrate their point.
In an exchange with CNN yesterday that began with the news network apparently fabricating a quote and attributing it to a supposed member of the USC College Republicans, California Students for McCain may have gotten the chance to witness this phenomenon first hand.
Yesterday morning, I awoke to concerning news – someone claiming to be linked to Students for McCain and the USC College Republicans had been quoted by CNN as stating that McCain does not appeal to youth, Republicans included, and will struggle to carry the youth vote on both sides of the aisle. The CNN story was one of the top headlines on their website, and even made the front page of Yahoo.
Later in the day, CNN posted a video clip of the interview, showing supposed College Republican Eric Pearlmutter elaborating on how Senator McCain was far less appealing to young voters, and as a result, how the College Republicans at USC were having trouble getting students to even attend their meetings.
Right off the bat, something seemed a bit off – given the fact that USC is currently not in session, it was strange to have a College Republican commenting on meeting attendance, and I hadn’t ever met the individual in the CNN article and video despite working closely with leaders at our USC chapter in the past.
Confirming our suspicions with two of our contacts at the campus, USC College Republicans Chairman Ben Meyers and California College Republicans Chairwoman Cheyenne Steel (daughter of F&H Blogger Michelle Steel), we found that Mr. Perlmutter was not, and had never been, a member of the USC organization. No one affiliated with the chapter that I spoke with had even heard of him prior to the publication of the CNN article, and there was no record of him ever attending a College Republicans meeting.
Students for McCain’s California youth effort has so far been a huge success, with our membership growing every week. I do concede that Senator Obama has an obvious appeal to a good portion of the youth vote. However, Students for McCain, throughout the state and at our USC chapter, has proven that there is active and growing support in the youth electorate for Senator McCain as well.
We chose to respond yesterday afternoon by issuing a press release to media outlets throughout the state — as seasoned veterans of the press along with a handful of political bloggers took note of the obvious discrepancy and began to investigate, a lot more was revealed.
Theories began multiplying at a startling pace — They ranged from standard accusations of CNN carrying a liberal bias to an investigative claim that Mr. Perlmutter was in fact a relative of a CNN producer who was used to fabricate quotes for the purpose of the story. Although it is too premature to speculate on CNN’s motivations in this matter, the bad press forced them to ‘admit an error’ via the Los Angeles Times Political Blog and invite the Students for McCain Chair at USC to tell his side of the story on an upcoming edition of their morning show.
Was this a simple error of CNN not verifying the authenticity of a source? Possibly, although even if we were to give CNN the benefit of the doubt in this matter, I’d imagine that, in the future, they might want to consider doing their homework before filing a report.