When Bill Donohue launched his vicious and dangerous attack on John Edwards, it should have been dismissed as quickly as it began. Unfortunately, Donohue was able to intervene in the 2008 Presidential election because he has well-placed, loyal allies in...

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 02/14/2007


When Bill Donohue launched his vicious and dangerous attack on John Edwards, it should have been dismissed as quickly as it began.  Unfortunately, Donohue was able to intervene in the  2008 Presidential election because he has well-placed, loyal allies in the mainstream media--allies who went unnoticed and unnamed as such, even as they used their position to give Donohue free and open access to FCC regulated television broadcasts.

Larry Kudlow is one such person.

A prominent and known figure on CNBC as a result of his financial analysis show Kudlow & Company, two facts are not widely known about Kudlow:

  1. He is a recovering alcohol and cocaine addict
  2. He is a board member of Bill Donohue's Catholic League

With this latter fact in mind, we can turn to the CNBC broadcast of Kudlow & Company aired February 9, 2007.

Without announcing it to his viewing audience--Kudlow turned his show into a broadcast outlet for Donohue's vicious incitements against John Edwards and Edwards' staffers, including an opening segment during which Kudlow virtually gave the broadcast to Donohue.

This broadcast was a crucial salvo in Donohue's attempt to intervene in the Edwards campaign and, without question, a key moment in the escalation of the rhetoric--an escalation that some violent Republicans several days later to take the matter into their own hands by sending email threats of sexual assault and death to Democratic staffers.

At no point in his broadcast did Kudlow acknowledge that he was a board member of Donohue's organization, but instead kept this information concealed in what was produced to appear as a "fair and balanced" debate.

In fact, there was no debate. Kudlow effectively gave Donohue control of the broadcast, temporarily transforming CNBC into the media megaphone for a political attack campaign.

The following are extracts from transcript of the February 9, 2007 broadcast of Kudlow & Company.  In this opening section of the show, Kudlow's show includes a full range of guests, but he opens by virtually giving over the broadcast to Donohue:

LARRY KUDLOW, host: On this evening's program John Edwards is in a heap of trouble. And does Nancy Pelosi have a transportation index problem? And why is it that no one seems to like any of the candidates in either party? All right, we're going big on politics. Joining me now is Peter Beinart, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, author of "The Good Fight: How Liberals and Only Liberals Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again"; Frank Luntz, pollster, chairman and CEO of Luntz Maslansky Strategic Research and author of "Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear"; Bill Press, Host of "The Bill Press Show" on Sirius Satellite and former California Democratic Party chairman; and KellyAnne Conway, president and CEO of The Polling Company; Bill Donohue is our special guest for this particular segment. He is president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Bill Donohue, I want to go to you for a moment or two to get this story out. I can't imagine how John Edwards could possibly be trusted to negotiate with Iran or Russia or anyone, if he were elected president, having completely folded in front of a bunch of left-wing liberal bloggers. But, Bill, first tell me the key points. What was the Catholic and religious bigotry that started this whole flap?

Mr. BILL DONOHUE (Catholic League President): Well, I can't explain it all on the air because you wouldn't allow me to, and I understand the rules here. But people, two women who he has on his payroll--and he defends them--these two women--one of them, for example, wrote about our Blessed Mother in a way which is rather remarkable, talks about her being injected with semen by the Lord. The other one refers to religious conservatives with a word which I can't repeat, but the first part of the word is the word "Mother." There are--there's vicious comments the pope is a fascist, the pope is anti-gay. It's--one of the women refers to her with the "C" word, as she's the "Grand" whatever. It's the kind of stuff that you might expect the worst of the worst in the blogosphere.

Now, look, I don't blame John Edwards for the fact that they got on board initially. He can't vet everybody. I was convinced that once he found out the content of their communication he'd get rid of them.

KUDLOW: Why do you think...

Mr. DONOHUE: I totally changed my mind about this man.

KUDLOW: Why do you--why do you think--let's stay with that, because that in some sense is just as important as the horrible things that were said. Why do you suppose he fired them and then rehired them? What was the action there? What occurred? What does it say about Mr. Edwards' own character and his campaign?

Mr. DONOHUE: He had a choice, a principle choice here. Don't offend Catholics and Christians in general, or `Do I want to drop anchor with the cultural left?' There's no question about it. He knows that Hillary has the establishment part of the Democratic Party. He's trying to carve out the left-wing base, and I guess he figured he can throw Christians overboard. We're only 85 percent of the population.


Mr. DONOHUE: By the way, Larry, everybody is going to know about this. I could take the whole hour to explain it.

KUDLOW: Well, I hear you.

Mr. DONOHUE: I'm not walking away from this one.

Despite being a Catholic League board member, Kudlow does not mention his connection to Donohue.  Instead, he gives him free reign over the first ten minutes of the broadcast, allowing him to define the discussion as an attack against John Edwards and his staffers.

After this opening segment, Kudlow then makes an attempt to bring in more members of his panel for debate, but then quickly tosses the ball back to Donohue--by using the exact argument and language that Donohue had been using to attack Edwards:

KUDLOW: All right, let me go to our panelists and get some commentary and we'll have a debate, if a debate is there.

Bill Press, welcome back to the program.

Mr. BILL PRESS ("The Bill Press Show" host): Thank you, Larry.

KUDLOW: Now, Bill, if this kind of stuff was said about Muslims or Jews or blacks, what do you think would have happened? How is it possible? Do you think Edwards would have fired them and then rehired them if they said this about these other groups?

Mr. PRESS: Well, first of all I got to say, look, I think Bill is wrong. These two women do not represent the left. I'm on the left, they don't represent me. I would not use this kind of language, number one. But number two, I think what counts for John Edwards is what they do when they're working for him, not what they did beforehand whenever they were running their own liberal blogs. I mean, I think the problem is that Bill Donohue represents any criticism of the Catholic Church as Catholic--as bigotry or anti-Catholic.

Mr. DONOHUE: Bill, this is not...

Ms. KELLYANNE CONWAY (The Polling Company): That's ridiculous.

Mr. DONOHUE: ...criticism. If these girls had used the "N" word they would have been gone.

Ms. CONWAY: You got it. Or anti-gay.

Mr. DONOHUE: And they didn't do it one time.

Here we see Kudlow has structured the discussion to allow Donohue's point to be the argument redressed and returned to by all guests--a dynamic that persisted throughout the discussion.

Actions That Can Be Taken
If America's system of free and open elections is to be protected and maintained, undisclosed alliances such as the one between Larry Kudlow and Bill Donohue must be made public.

The follow links can be used to express concern about this issue:

© 2007 Jeffrey Feldman, Frameshop

© Jeffrey Feldman 2007, Frameshop

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