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CNN Poli-tricks: How the Masters of Propaganda ‘Fixed’ Their GOP Debate

PHPatrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

As staged television productions go, this GOP debate was nearly perfect.

On the surface, Wednesday evening’s GOP Presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, was a slick media production set in front Reagan’s old Air Force One Boeing jet for maximum theatrical effect. CNN’s host Jake Tapper exhibited his adeptness, undoubtedly a smooth operator who commanded the event with skill and confidence. To the casual observer, it all seemed picture-perfect, until it wasn’t…

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PROPAGANDIST: CNN host Jake Tapper’s skills were on full display.

Not a minute goes by without hearing media pundits and ‘experts’ referring to this year’s GOP race as “The Presidential Reality Show”, which it certainly is, but media moguls are reticent to admit that they are playing the role of Endemol in this production.

Prior to Wednesday evening’s TV event, the people had spoken clearly through a number of major polls, and their top two run-away choices are clearly Donald J. Trump and Dr. Benjamin Carson. You wouldn’t know it after enduring three hours of CNN’s stage-managed production. This is perhaps the most damning indictment of the establishment politics in living memory, and potentially a major watershed moment in terms of American politics. Instead of using real public opinion as a gauge, the media mafia, just like in a Las Vegas boxing match, made the necessary moves behind the scenes to tilt the playing field in favor of the weaker candidates. This is nothing new, and they wouldn’t be alone. The only problem now is that the public is becoming wise as to how the media and the political establishment (in this case the GOP), work together in fixing the race.

First, it’s important to understand that the Establishment will do whatever it takes in order to kill-off any popular outsiders threatening to gate-crash their political ‘party’.

Their first move was perhaps the most insidious – after weeks of insisting that they “would not budge” on their debate qualification criteria, Jeff Zucker suddenly changed CNN’s entry rules to accommodate one particular candidate who would otherwise not have made the final cut, and that was California businesswoman Carly Fiorina. Here is a perfect example of how twisted and under-handed establishment media moguls can be when it comes to the business of fixing elections in America. Here, CNN has clearly chosen to promote its own select candidates as part of the establishment’s wider effort to marginalize any genuinely popular independent challengers, namely Trump and Carson.

CNN’s ‘debate’ was really a staged exercise and opportunity to allow many of the GOP’s weaker establishment candidates a chance to ‘catch up’ to Trump and Carson.

How to ‘Fix’ A Debate

When you control the theater, you have a lot of power over what the audience is left with at the end of the night.

Back in August, the contempt which FOX News showed for front-runner Donald Trump was on full public display, as their ‘moderators’ tried and succeeded in ambushing him. After all of the sucker-punches, FOX’s railroading of Trump backfired, with public support surging in his favor, sending a clear message of ‘blow-back’ to Roger Ailes and the Murdoch mafia. You would have thought that CNN would have heeded this realization, but then again, when has CNN ever been in the business of reality?

CNN’s own debate protocol on the night stipulated that if another candidate’s name was mentioned in a contestant’s answer, then that other person is automatically given the right to rebuttal. In other words, if Tapper asked a question to Jeb Bush and Bush mentioned the name ‘Rand Paul’ during his answer, then Rand Paul is summarily given time to reply. In this way CNN purports to be the ‘fair and balanced’ broker, but in reality the exercise is almost completely controlled by the moderator asking the question and the establishment candidates. Rule number one: don’t mention Trump. Using this clever formula, during one long stretch CNN, managed to shut-out Donald Trump for a full 40 minutes towards the third hour of the debate – just as viewer numbers began to gradually erode.

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BLOATED FIELD: Over a long race, a larger field guarantees better odds for marginal runners.

In horse racing, staging a big field of runners always adds excitement to the race for the simple reason that over a long race, a larger field guarantees better odds for marginal, or in this case – mediocre runners.

The other obvious point here is that it is simply ludicrous to claim that a debate is a legitimate reflection of the public interest when the broadcast network Svengalis allow nearly 15 candidates a place on the stage, with the majority of those 15 candidates polling somewhere between 1-2% nationally. This guarantees that the ‘debate’ will ultimately be a farce in terms of representing the public interest in this political race. Regardless of how poor their public appeal is, like a doctor doling out bad medicine, the establishment media is determined to force-feed their bloated field of mediocre political stooges and career glad-handers – down the throats of the American people.

Granted, this has been the GOP’s losing strategy since 2008 – to flood the primary field with as many candidates as possible, including completely unelectable and otherwise repugnant outdated party throwbacks like Newt Gingrich – who was encouraged to run at the last-minute by the Republican establishment in 2012 in order to help dilute the field and eventually oust surging front-runner Ron Paul from the national spotlight. The media played the game, denying media coverage and redacting Paul’s winning polls and even his leading primary results, effectively erasing Ron Paul from American TV screens in 2008, and in 2012. The same could be said for GOP candidate Herman Cain in 2012, who after wiping the floor in interviews and debates, was ‘disappeared’ from much of the GOP media coverage in the run-up to the New Hampshire primaries. The same process is happening now, as the RNC, in partnership with networks like CNN and FOX, are trying to erase Donald Trump from America’s gaze. They will not give up until this mission is accomplished.

Another important element in fixing their staged production is ‘loading’ their studio audience. On Wednesday night, CNN in partnership with the Republican National Committee, chose a small venue that could only hold 500 persons so that they could more easily fix the audience to include ZERO supporters of Donald Trump. Tickets to this event were strictly invite only and might have been distributed along the following lines:

Republican National Convention guest list – 350 tickets (70%)
Ronald Reagan Library guest list – 100 tickets (20%)
CNN guest list – 50 tickets (10%) CNN

Considering that only 48 hours before the debate, Donald Trump filled Mavericks Arena in Dallas, Texas with well over 10,000 supporters on just 72 hours notice, one might ask how no actual Trump supporters (aside from family members in the VIP enclosure) were present in the audience on Wednesday night. This topped by the fact that Trump is polling as high as 40% in places in a field of 15 candidates, this calculated move by CNN and the RNC is tantamount to fraud. This was obvious when the RNC’s hand-picked audience would applaud on cue at the end of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s rebuttals, as well as following any statements by Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina. Judging from this ‘canned’ applause, one can easily see which candidates the RNC were keen to promote through this CNN mass-media production. At no time did any member of the audience cheer following a rounding statement by Donald Trump, even though he had his share of applause-worthy moments.

To compound the farce, Jeff Zucker also ordered CNN producers to run the debate over 3 hours in length, pushing its completion well past the television watershed mark past 11pm ET. Zucker knew that if Tapper and CNN had achieved its list of objectives in the first 2 hours, that many viewers would begin to peel away in droves after that. Despite Hugh Hewitt’s sweeping claim afterwards that CNN had “built and kept its audience over the 3 hours”, the reality is that viewers fell off after the second hour. To drag on the debate could only benefit those establishment candidates CNN was keen to promote in hours one and two.

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TRUMPED: CNN and the RNC were careful not to allow The Donald steal their show.

Back on August 6th, FOX News engaged in its own subterfuge.  Aside from the ad hominem attacks on Trump by its ‘moderators’, someone at FOX appeared to have leaked some questions in advance to RNC-approved candidates (which is nearly every other candidate aside from Trump). This became fairly obvious judging from canned and highly robotic, rehearsed answers by the likes of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. When you watch the footage from August 6th, this is quite obvious.

As mentioned in previous columns, to even refer to these media gatekeepers as ‘moderators’ is somewhat preposterous, as there is nothing neutral about these maestros of deception, as they skillfully conduct their symphony of high-tech propaganda. Like the networks who employ them, these highly paid operatives are contemptible, as each one executes his or her role in selling out the American political system.

Mediocre America: The ‘Under Card’ Debate

This might be the most pathetic trends ever seen in US politics.

One of the other new devices that has been invented by the Establishment corporate media this year is the ‘second tier’ debate, also referred to as the ‘Under Card’ debate, the ‘Earlier Debate’ or the ‘Kids Table Debate’. How sad. I like to refer to this one as simply, “The Losers’ Debate,” because this card is exclusively for the losers – those individuals polling lower than Mickey Mouse, who cannot even manage to poll a meager 1%.

While watching the GOP lower the entry bar to its debates, you can begin to understand why the party is such a mess, and so insecure that they are afraid to tell anyone ‘no’, no matter how unelectable they are. On Wednesday night, it was George Pataki (‘Mr. 9/11’), Rick Santorum (who?), Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal (the fastest talker in Louisiana) and Lindsey Graham (best buddy of John McCain). Who knows, maybe they’ll make space for Newt Gingrich and John Bolton in the next one. For so-called ‘conservatives’ who are constantly railing against liberals for giving out awards to every child who participates in sports or school competitions, and not just to the winners like in the old days, the GOP Losers Debate is no different – it’s like handing out big pretty GOP ribbons to all the kids who are participating in the election. Sure, it’s beyond pathetic, but don’t be fooled. It might seem pathetic, but it’s not without a purpose…

Clearly, the Establishment has devised this new ‘Under Card’ gimmick in order to help nudge otherwise unpopular, or irrelevant candidates up and into the Top Tier. In this way, FOX News coordinated with CNN in order to market and build-up the profile of an unknown and massively inexperienced candidate in Carly Fiorna, who was allowed onto FOX’s Losers Debate on August 6th which helped nudge her polling numbers up to 2%, after which time CNN bent its own rules of entry by allowing Fiorina onto its top stage on Sept 16th. Here is a prime example of how the Establishment media is allowed to openly engineer the political process in America.

1-Lindsey-GrahamFor perennial losers and hugely unpopular characters like Senator Lindsey Graham (photo, left) from South Carolina, currently polling around 1-1.5%, the Losers Debate offered a nationally televised platform for Graham to espouse his own wild militaristic ideology and actively promote his plan to ramp-up a new and more bloody war in Syria, with US troops on the ground, as well as leveling nuclear threats against Iran. Megalomaniac Graham also used his two hours on national TV to remind the American people of that he’s came from humble ‘working class roots’ (like nearly every other GOP candidate this year, so we’re told) , followed by repeatedly listing how many times he’s flown to Iraq and Afghanistan, and how many years he served in the US military. This is nothing new, as Graham has previously described himself on his website as an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran – when in fact, as an Air Force lawyer, he was never near combat. Graham’s most notable claim to fame was when he defended an air force pilot accused of smoking marijuana, which was featured in an episode of 60 Minutes back in 1984.

Far be it from CNN to ever challenge this bombastic, often flippant salesman for perpetual war. Maybe that’s because Graham and CNN are both in the same business, which is the promotion of perpetual war.



Why the Establishment is Frightened

Washington’s bureaucracy and the media work as a cartel, and this was never so evident after watching last night’s GOP debate on CNN.

The American establishment is scared of real independent competition in politics because they threaten to tip over a very old apple cart. Corporate media operations like CNN will happily play a role in ousting any serious challengers because those challengers also threaten the fixed game’ which Washington and its media partners have enjoyed for so many decades.

The mere fact that Donald Trump is not accepting large campaign contributions, is enough to completely destroy a major pillar of institutional corruption which has brought America’s political system to its knees, where industry moguls and foreign lobbies like Israel and Saudi Arabia can literally buy any US politician. By his mere presence in the GOP field, Trump both threatens and exposes this status quo. The Establishment hates this, and are desperate to see the back of Trump, and get back to business in the shadows.

Instead, who does CNN actively promote as ‘winners’ from last night’s debate? CNN has clearly anointed all of the most ardent warmongers, led by Lindsey Graham (wants to deploy ground troops in Syria ASAP), Marco Rubio (wants the US move toward war-footing with Iran), Chris Christie (another ‘Mr. 9/11’) and Carly Fiorina, who claimed that, “We (the US) should not be talking to Putin” (oh dear).

Following this predictable pattern, former Ohio governor John Kasich has been more or less ignored by the media and CNN, probably because he’s not hawkish enough on foreign policy.

The Fiorina Flop

Coincidentally, Fiorina’s curriculum vitae – including her record as CEO of companies Lucent and Hewlett-Packard, is nothing to brag about – which is why both CNN and FOX have been noticeably quiet about it until this week. Before pulling some fatal accounting magic at Lucent Technologies, Fiorina went on to tech giant Hewlett-Packard, where shareholder earnings plummeted 80% due to a few bad deals before she was eventually fired as CEO but not before deploying her $100 million golden parachute on the way home. What’s hardly mentioned is how in 2008, Fiorina then went on to work as an ‘advisor’ to John McCain’s catastrophic (and often comical) 2008 Presidential defeat. After that, in 2010, she lost rather badly to incumbent Barbara Boxer (D-CA) for US Senate, after being involved in what some critics described as a dirty tricks campaign designed to derail her GOP primary opponent Tom Campbell. During Fiorina’s eventual contents against Boxer, her campaign took a nose-dive after she made rude remarks on a hot mic about opponent Boxer’s hair, which is ironic considering how she’s been playing the victim over Trump’s seemingly off-color remarks about her ‘face’.

In the end, Fiorina might just be the least qualified in the giant GOP field – making CNN’s obvious dedication to advancing her profile ever more puzzling.

Our Hollywood Reality

CNN host Jake Tapper, who is no doubt a skilled moderator, but also a more skilled propagandist, mentioned repeatedly before and during the debate, about how our future President is “in charge of the nuclear codes”. Besides the fact that Tapper is promoting a piece of popular Hollywood propaganda here, the skilled media operators are really promoting something more insidious. Tapper is promoting the Hollywood-based concept that the President and only the President of the United States, is the sole arbiter of life and death on the planet Earth. It’s this type of national narcissistic mind-set which propagandists like to propagate in order to defer power to central government – which is embodied in the childish Team America-like, but very fascist idea that a “supreme leader”, in this case an US President, is the demigod who “controls our nuclear arsenal”. CNN and FOX seem to love pulling the public down to a Team America level mentality. I wonder why that is?

Tapper is also trying to subtly infer that America needs a ‘rational person’ in charge of the nuclear codes, and CNN spares no opportunity in its attempt to characterize Donald Trump as irrational and unstable. The reality is that, when it comes to war, Trump might actually be the leading dove in a field of hawks. When Trump said we would like to have dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and strive for “a safer world” as US President, instead of the audience cheering, you could almost hear a pin drop in the room. It was a bizarre moment, but not surprising considering the level of collusion which had clearly taken place between the RNC and CNN executives and producers. He also stated that the US shouldn’t be trying to fight both ISIS and Assad at the same time in Syria, which most rational and intelligent people would agree with (but not Lindsey Graham). So if the American people are overwhelmingly supporting Trump and Trump is not a war hawk, then perhaps this means that the overwhelming majority of Americans do NOT want to declare war on the world as candidates Rubio, Fiorina, Huckabee, Graham and others seem to be doing. Once again, in this way, media agents in CNN and FOX are actively undermining real politics in America.

This should tell the American people, and the world, what business CNN is keen to promote. You only have to have watched it over the years to know: their business is war.

While noting Hollywood’s close connection with Washington DC, the CIA and the Pentagon, the reoccurrence of the nuclear propaganda talking point should tell us who is in control of what we think and feel. In the end, it’s a plastic reality that is constantly being reinforced by cartel members and agents of warfare like CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC, The Blaze and the other mega media machines.

PC: Play The Game?

Many of the ‘old rules’ do not apply to Trump. His detractors continue to decry his dodgy quips about women, bombing Iraqi oil fields, hermetically sealing the US with a new Great Wall and outlandish ideas on deporting 11 million “illegals” from the US – as proof that he doesn’t possess the standards required be a ‘moral leader of the free world’. The media seem intent on beating Trump into politically correct form, but he’s resisted and his poll numbers have surged. This has confounded all of the ‘experts’. Maybe that’s because the ‘experts’ in Establishment media are just as out of touch as the Establishment politicians are.

Granted, Trump does not play the PC game, and he and his supporters seem proud of this controversial attribute, but it’s possible that voters might be willing to overlook his politically correct short comings because they see him as “his own man”. Perhaps Americans, and the rest of the world too, are realizing that there are worse things than kneeling at the altar of political correctness. As bad as many of Trump’s comments might be, they do not send chills down the spine like after hearing Jeb Bush proudly declare that if elected he will be appointing all of his foreign policy advisors from the ranks of the last two Bush administrations (yes, the Neoconservatives will be pack in power). Scary indeed. The thought of Dick Cheney returning to action is equally as horrific as visions of Bill Clinton chasing interns around the West Wing. That aside, Trump would be less likely to become a mass-murderer and a war criminal – as both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have done – while surrounded by their army of ‘advisors’ (and Karl Rove too).


TRUMP: The media honeymoon is over (Image Source: SBS Australia)

To date, Trump has enjoyed early success because he has been able to ride the crest of a populist wave, but the truth is that this popular swell was building long before he declared his candidacy for the Republic Party’s nomination for US President. Anyone would be foolish to doubt his ability to make monumental deals as Commander and Chief. That shouldn’t be the issue. The issue is whether or not The Donald can weather a media storm which is only getting started, and whether or not he can truly rise to the expectations which many desperate Americans clearly have of him. The fun and games are over, and the other side is playing for keeps. If he has any useful transferable skills from his 12 years running The Apprentice, then he will have to put them into practice now, or his adversaries… not only the other 14 GOP candidates, and 4 Democratic candidates – but also the Republican National Convention and the whole of America’s mainstream corporate media – will bury him by the time they get to Iowa. Expect more of the same in the remaining GOP debates, where media operatives along with the RNC, will try to shut Trump out, and ignore him as much as possible – exactly as they did with Ron Paul before him.

Today, CNN and most of the mainstream media are going all out to bury Trump over a comment made not by him, but by one mentally-challenged attendee (who could have just as easily been a plant) at his rally on Thursday in New Hampshire. A Trump supporter asked him about America’s “Muslim problem” and said “Obama is a Muslim”. Trump did not rebuke the comments sufficiently, and so the media are attempting to bury him over the incident. Watch the clip here:


That man in New Hampshire was simply parroting a series of Simple Jack fables like, “Obama is a secret Muslim”, and the idea that there are “Muslim training camps in Mexico and in America”, which have been repeatedly injected into the right-wing national conversation by Judicial Watch and other disinformation media outlets.

If he is to survive, Trump must raise his game. No more off-color insults and jingoistic remarks. No more claiming ignorance. That’s right – Donald has to get serious now. Otherwise, he’ll end up like all those aspiring apprentices he’s sent packing, before they took that long last trip down the elevator.

As tough as it looks for Trump, however, there is a silver lining in this storm. Trump has two things that the rest of GOP field doesn’t have, and cannot have even if they tried (and tried hard). The first is that his supporters believe him when he says he will do something. Like it or not, good or bad, that’s a reality. The second thing is even more powerful by an order of magnitude. Despite what his detractors claim, Trump has the potential to do well dealing with other international heavy weights, including Russia, because unlike the rest of the career politicians whose job is to lie for a living – Trump is a brand, and a successful one at that, which means he already has something to play for. Whereas career politicians routinely lie about their failings and accomplishments, Trump has an existing asset to protect. Whereas the rest of the GOP (and Hillary Clinton) believes American should rule the world solely through fear (and loathing), Trump made it clear on Wednesday that he preferred an American that’s respected first. An America with more allies than enemies? Could the world become a safer place this way? After 15 years of Dr. Strangelove neoconservative adventurism and its Obama hangover, a lot of people would like to try something different. That realization alone, means that he is the only leading GOP candidate who can co-opt any significant moderate or Democratic fence-sitting votes. Many traditionalists might disagree with that supposition, but considering the military fever that is currently sweeping Washington’s right-wing, it’s worth considering.

What they used to call a ‘Reagan Democrat’ could one day be called ‘Trump Democrat’. If the GOP elite are serious about winning (unlike the last two national elections), they might want to ponder that.

This all depends, of course, whether or not Trump (and his support base) can hold it together until voters actually go to the polls. A lot can happen in four months

Going forward, 2016 is still going to be a brawl, but don’t expect the media to do a fair job in refereeing it, and they’ll try like hell to fix it.

READ MORE 2016 ELECTION NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire 2016 Files