It’s a little bit hard to believe that CNN didn’t know Alex Castellanos‘ company, National Media, Inc. counted AHIP and the RNC among his clients. Really hard to believe, given that his authorship of the RNC anti-health care reform talking points was no secret at all. Still, the PlumLine reports:
CNN doesn’t appear to have known about Castellano’s work, and this is not the first time outside help retained by AHIP in the health care wars has created a PR mess. AHIP took heavy criticism after the firm it retained to release a study faulting the reform proposals publicly undercut its own finding.
Travel back in time to early July, just before the House Committees reported out their versions of health care reform, and shortly before Jim DeMint declares health care reform to be “Obama’s Waterloo.”
Castellanos authored a memo for the RNC outlining their top talking points against President Obama’s efforts to reform the health care system. That memo is dated July 7, 2009.
Politico reports on the memo July 13, 2009, noting that the Republicans have started to form a cohesive messaging around health care reform.
One week later, RNC Chairman Michael Steele gives a speech at the National Press Club where he parrots the Castellanos memo verbatim.
On July 22, 2009, Castellanos spars with James Carville on Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room” with regard to Senator DeMint’s “Waterloo” remarks and the Democrats’ commercial in response. Without disclosing his part in formulating the talking points, Castellanos says the following:
CASTELLANOS: That, one, this is a huge experiment with health care.
You know, President Obama has spent really, his family, more time picking the family dog than they have crafting this health care plan that’s going to transform 20 percent of the — of our economy and your health care forever.
So, Republicans need to say, look, let’s slow this down. We can’t possibly have thought this out well. Let’s do it right. We have the time to do it right, not the time to get it wrong. So, that was one point.
And the second point for Republicans is, look, you have got to put our proposals on the table as well, and advocate this. Everybody needs to make it clear that we can do better, and Republicans do have some good ideas here.
BLITZER: The Republican Party chairman, Michael Steele, seemed to be listening to Alex.
And yet, CNN wants us to think they “didn’t know”?
Basic Research 101, CNN?
There are these things called FEC disclosures. Among other things, the RNC has to disclose their vendors and what they’re paid on a close-to-real-time basis. (Not close enough, in my opinion, but still…). If you don’t feel like picking through the actual disclosures, there’s always opensecrets.org, where FEC disclosures are downloaded into a database and organized for easy finding. Here’s a list of media buys by the RNC to National Media Research (RNC description) in 2009.
On September 21, 2009, one day after the August report was released, I discovered the media buys done by Castellanos’ firm, National Media, Inc.. When I realized Castellanos was not only the author of the talking points I’d had to listen to all summer but also a rather snarky CNN commentator, I sent this message out on Twitter:
Architect of conservative strategies, talking points, ads, AstroTurf orgs, teabaggers: Alex Castellanos, CNN commentator, Huffpost blogger
Perhaps CNN needs a lesson from the social media people in brand management, because a simple brand search would have tipped someone off.
CNN now ‘vows to be vigilant‘ about disclosure. How noble. Forgive my sarcasm, but this particular Castellanos screed (posted 9/21/2009) seems, well…ironic. Let the title be your guide:
The Truth That Tells a Lie
When Obama speaks about health care, he omits crucial details.
Perhaps CNN should take his admonition to heart:
Fact and truth are not the same thing.
There is nothing wrong with CNN bringing Castellanos on camera to present the conservative/Republican/AHIP argument, as long as they disclose their relationships so the audience has the facts they need to discern the truth.
It’s truly disappointing.
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