CNN Contributor Who Prepped Biden for Last Debate Fawns Over Candidate’s Rocky Performance in This Debate

CNN contributor Jennifer Granholm offered fulsome praise for the second Democratic debate performance of former Vice President Joe Biden, whom she also happened to help prep for the previous primary debate in June. And while the network did briefly disclose her connection (which was first reported in Politico) to one of the candidates on stage in the lead-up to the debate, the last mention of it was nearly four hours removed from her glowing appraisal of Biden.

Just minutes after the debate ended, at 10:58 p.m., Granholm stuck a notably exuberant tone in her analysis of Biden, even as her fellow CNN analysts offered much less sanguine takes on his performance.

“I think that collective sound of sighing you hear are the sighs of relief of people in the Democratic Party who wanted Joe Biden to show up. And he did,” Granholm said. “I know he had — there were a couple of rough moments, but, honestly, his opening was sharp, his closing was sharp. He had a great response I thought to Bill de Blasio, the sort of fourth moderator about — about the TPP and trade. And he came forth in a strong way and in a state like Michigan, that was really important in terms of whether he would support NAFTA 2.0. So I thought Joe Biden did a great job tonight.”

At no point during the moments just before or after Granholm’s praise, however, did the network alert its viewers that the former Democratic governor of Michigan has been directly assisting the Biden campaign. At 7:02 p.m., CNN’s Erin Burnett noted it in passing when asking Granholm about Biden’s prep for this latest debate: “You know him. You helped prepare him. Look, it down’s matter how old you are, how many times you’ve done this, this is a stressful night for him.”


Forty five minutes earlier, at 6:15 p.m., the network and Granholm also acknowledged her previous assistance to the Biden camp, but again, as merely as a brief aside.

“First of all, I think he does have some room for error, he is like way ahead in the polls, right? But you’re right that this is a fundamental moment for him and I think he gets it,” Granholm said before offering up something of an ethical disclaimer. “I haven’t talked to the team. Of course, I work here at CNN and I didn’t want there to be any conflicts.”


Nevertheless, these blink-and-you’ll-miss-them disclosures hardly seem sufficient. The fact that a CNN contributor gets to opine about a candidate that they’ve already assisted in this election cycle — and may go back to helping whenever the debates are held on CNN — raises all kinds of journalistic red flags. Or at least it should. If the network insists on continuing to have Granholm on air, it should remove her contributor label, stop paying her, and instead treat her like a Biden campaign surrogate to be honest with its viewers.

It’s not as if the Trump campaign, which already accuses CNN of bias on a near daily basis, hasn’t noticed the ethical problems posed by Granholm’s dual role.

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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