CNN Downplays Biden's Deceptions

On Saturday, CNN presented the special "Joe Biden Revealed." 

Anchored by Abbie Boudreau, the show touched on why Biden dropped his 1988 presidential bid. 

Discussing it with Boudreau was Senior Biden adviser Ted Kaufman (Kinnock spelled incorrectly throughout transcript):

BOUDREAU (on camera): Do you think he was ready at that point to become president?

KAUFMAN: Yes, I think he was ready to become president.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): On June 9th, 1987, Biden in his home state of Delaware announced that he would run for president. He says fewer than one in five Americans even knew who he was.

BIDEN: Today, I announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.

BOUDREAU: It was his first time on the national stage, and Biden seemed to love it.

BIDEN: I'm here to have you look me over, and if you like what you see, I'd like your help.

PROF. JOSEPH PIKA, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE: Biden is the kind of guy that is very charming when you meet him in person. He has got a megawatt smile and he's very attentive. He's very interested in the people that he meets. When you meet Joe Biden, you are impressed and you remember the encounter.

BIDEN: Hello, again. I'm Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

BOUDREAU: One of the primaries major events, a forum of the legendary Iowa State Fair. It was August, 1987.

BIDEN: I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university?

BOUDREAU: But his speech sounded familiar. Just like a speech by British Politician, Neil Kinnick.

NEIL KINNICK, BRITISH POLITICIAN: What am I? The first Kinnick in a thousand generations...

BIDEN: Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university?

KINNICK: Why is Kinnick is the first woman in her family.

BIDEN: Why is it that my wife, who is sitting out there in the audience, is the first in her family to ever go to college?

BOUDREAU: Biden had attributed Kinnick's speech many times before, but this time he didn't give credit. Three weeks later, it was front page news. Joe Biden was accused of plagiarism.

KAUFMAN: And the irony is after the speech was over, he was standing around with some of our advisers, and somebody said, hey, you didn't attribute it. Everybody kind of agreed -- well, let's not make a big fuss of this note, because the press has already heard him attribute it so many times before.

BOUDREAU: One week later, more plagiarism charges. The press was zeroing in. Biden held a news conference to address the crisis and to admit he failed to properly footnote a portion of a law school paper. He claimed he misunderstood the rules of citation.

BIDEN: I made no mistake in my view in using the Kinnick quote, and on all but one occasion to the best of my knowledge, I attributed directly to Kinnick, or I even went and told the whole story about Kinnick. I'm in this race to win and here I come. Thanks a lot, folks.

BOUDREAU: But six days later, a complete turnaround.

BIDEN: The exaggerated shadow of those mistakes has begun to obscure the essence of my candidacy and the essence of Joe Biden. I've concluded that I will stop being a candidate for president of the United States.

CNN didn't detail the extent of Biden's deceptions.  David Broder and Eleanor Randolph wrote in the September 17, 1987 Washington Post:

After that (Kinnock) report, individuals associated with other campaigns pointed out to reporters other passages from Biden speeches containing nearly verbatim repetitions, without acknowledgement, of lines first uttered by the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) and former vice president and senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minn.).

A week later, the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Cliff Haas reported:

Biden's Feb. 3 speech at the California state democratic convention echoed almost word for word parts of speeches Robert Kennedy gave in 1967 and 1968 during his presidential campaign. Biden did not attribute his remarks to Kennedy.

The same story summarized Biden's plagiarism in law school:

On Sept. 17 academic officials revealed that Biden was accused of plagiarism in 1965, his first year at Syracuse University Law School. Biden admitted that he copied five pages of material from a law review without attribution in a term paper for a legal methods course. He received an F for a grade, which was changed to a B when he repeated the course.

Also noted was:

In a heated exchange with a questioner at an April 3 political gathering, Biden claimed that he graduated in the top half of his law school class, received a full academic scholarship, won an international moot court competition, won an award as outstanding political science student and graduated from the University of Delaware with three degrees. In fact Biden graduated 76th in his law school class of 85, had only a half-scholarship based on financial need, was only nominated to be named outstanding political science student and graduated from Delaware with a single B.A. in political science and history. Biden later said that he exaggerates when he is angry.

He sure does, managing to turn a single degree into three and graduating in the top half of his class when the reality is he was ninth from the bottom.  Copying five pages without attribution is considerably more than an innocent failure "to properly footnote a portion of a law school paper."

Joe Biden wasn't truly revealed in "Joe Biden Revealed."  His numerous duplicities over an extended period of time warranted more specifics than those provided by CNN.  Just a guess, but I imagine the network would have covered similar failings by Sarah Palin in much greater depth.   

2008 Presidential CNN Other CNN Journalistic Issues Abbie Boudreau Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Sarah Palin