CNN Focus Group Of Republican Women Voters Was Filled With GOP Operatives And Candidates

The network has taken heat from media critics and observers for misleading viewers by presenting the women as merely "Republican voters"

By now, you’ve probably seen the viral video clip of a CNN panel of five Republican women defending Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh amid the allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when the two were in high school. During the segment that aired on Anderson Cooper 360 last week, the women — all labeled as merely “Republican voter” — brushed off the accusations, with one woman asking “what boy hasn’t done this in high school.”

The way the panel was presented by CNN made it appear that this was a sampling of average Republican women voters and that their passionate defense of Kavanaugh was indicative of how GOP women feel in general about this situation. But after the video began gaining traction on social media, sharp-eyed observers noticed something about the women interviewed by CNN — they were part of the local Republican Party establishment.

The woman who made the comment about it being normal for 17-year-old boys to engage in the kind of behavior described by Ford is Gina Sosa, who ran for Congress in Florida’s 27th Congressional District this year, losing in the GOP primary.

Another woman who dominated the conversation, Lourdes de Castillo de la Peña, has been a member of the Republican National Senatorial Committee and once hosted a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. During the panel discussion, she said she has “no sympathy” for Ford and that “maybe at that moment she liked him and maybe he didn’t pay attention to her afterward … and she got bitter.”

One other panelist who spoke quite a bit, Angela Vazquez, happens to be a community council member in Dade County. And the other two women? Rhonda Lopez has run for state representative and Irina Vilarino was once seated next to President Trump at a roundtable discussion for small business tax cuts.

Journalist Adam Weinstein tweeted out the following, showing how CNN described the women alongside reports of their Republican Party activism.

Author James Surowiecki called CNN’s framing of the segment “really irresponsible” and the focus group “was stacked to produce the result it got: lockstep support for Trump’s nominee, and unswerving fealty to the conservative line.”

Journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen railed against the “collapse of editorial standards at CNN” while saying it was important to criticize the network for “failing at journalism.”

This isn’t the first time CNN has been criticized for stacking its panels of everyday Trump voters with elected officials and Republican players. Before and after the 2016 election, the network hosted a focus group of Trump supporters that included several former and current state representatives.

You can watch the panel above, via CNN.

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Justin Baragona is the founder and publisher of Contemptor. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.
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