On Friday's CNN Newsroom, anchor Ashleigh Banfield didn't begin her program with news that unemployment in 44 states has worsened, a story that CNN's Web site reported. No, she devoted the first 12 minutes of her program to a real burning issue: Mitt Romney's tax returns.
She spoke of President Barack Obama's offer to accept five years of GOP candidate Mitt Romney's tax returns and demand no more. The offer is as big a joke as Vice President Joe Biden, yet Banfield discussed it with CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser and Reuters columnist David Cay Johnston. Banfield injected her own theory:
BANFIELD: OK. What's critical here and I was getting the political side of this with Paul Steinhauser, these five years that the Democrats are offering in return of letting go of the demand for 10.
Within the five years, falls the year 2009 and that was the year the Obama administration granted a first-of-its-kind amnesty to wealthy Americans, promising not to publicize their names or go after them with felonies if they'd been hiding money offshore, if they just came forward and paid a big penalty and paid some of the back taxes.
So, give me a bit of a feel for this amnesty program and how successful it's been and what about -- what would have happened to you if you didn't take advantage of it?
BANFIELD: But I do want to ask you, if there is something back after 2009, say, before we have the 2011 and -- or, excuse me, '10 and '11 returns of the Romneys, if there is something with regard to amnesty, does it actually show up and what does it mean about the person that took advantage of the amnesty?
Amnesty? Felonies? Hiding money offshore? Sounds like Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid might be moonlighting as a writer for the news readers at CNN. Banfield used the word "amnesty" nine times, not that she's accusing Romney of anything:
BANFIELD: All right, so, I want to let you know and I'm going to repeat this again. We do not know anything about whether the Romneys have taken any advantage of any kind of amnesty program.
There have been three offerings of the amnesty program, 2009, 2010 and 2011. No, 2009, 2001, 2012. So, we do not know and that is extraordinarily important.
She then noted that "we" asked the Romney campaign about the 2009 amnesty program, but hadn't received a response. In her painstaking effort to be totally fair, though, she acknowledged the question had only been asked "within the last couple of hours." Banfield didn't mention if they had asked Romney if he's stopped beating his wife, but she may have.
Obviously, Obama can't run on his record. His only hope is to divert attention from his epic failures. The Ashleigh Banfields of the mainstream media are more than happy to lend a hand.