Sep 23 2013

CNN’s Conflicted ‘Leftist’

Is Stephanie Cutter 'from the left'--or from the White House?

This month, CNN brought back its left-right debate show Crossfire. But is one of the left co-hosts representing the progressive viewpoint–or the White House?

Stephanie Cutter was a campaign strategist for the 2012 Obama campaign, and currently heads up a PR firm called Precision Strategies. But while the premise of the CNN show is that Cutter is “from the left,” she still maintains working ties to the White House.

According to a Fox News report (9/3/13), Cutter was part of a PR strategy session on selling the White House’s Syria policy. If so, Cutter was meeting with the White House to craft a message–and then going on TV to defend that message.

Cutter cheered the White House’s Syria policy on September 9‘s Crossfire, arguing that the Russian plan to destroy Syria’s chemical stockpiles happened “because the president put the use of force on the table.”

And it’s not just Syria. Cutter was also called in for guidance on how to promote Larry Summers as the next chair of the Federal Reserve (New York Times, 9/17/13).

During one CNN show (Situation Room, 9/5/13), viewers got a sense of Cutter’s conflicted role when she explained the White House’s efforts to promote its Syria policy with liberals this way:

Well, I think that whenever something big like this is happening, we’re always meeting with progressive bloggers and left-leaning talkshow hosts. That’s just part of the deal.

Cutter is supposed to be one of those “left-leaning talkshow hosts”–but instead she thinks of them as a group that “we” in the White House are meeting with.

Cutter doesn’t deny the stories about her White House connections, telling Politico (9/18/13), “No one’s ever accused me of not saying exactly what I think.”

A TV pundit is paid to say what she thinks. A political spin doctor is paid to say whatever line is most likely to promote her client’s agenda. It’s a glaring conflict between two very different responsibilities.

A conflict of interest like that might not bother Cutter. But such conflicts are supposed to matter to CNN.

If Stephanie Cutter is consulting with the White House, and then going on TV to discuss the very same issues, she’s not representing the left–or her viewers. She’s representing the White House.


Ask CNN to explain why Crossfire host Stephanie Cutter is being allowed to maintain a PR relationship with the White House–a clear conflict of interest with her role as a pundit.





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