CNN may have accidentally broadcast itself coaching a member of its focus group about what to say following Sunday night’s presidential debate– a charge the network strongly denies.
A video uploaded to YouTube shortly after Sunday’s debate shows CNN discussing the debate’s events with a focus group of undecided Ohio voters, only to have a live microphone reveal more than intended.
As the clip begins, CNN is showing a moment from the debate in which Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton says, “that America already is great, but we are great because we are good.”
Then, as CNN cuts back to its focus group, CNN reporter Pamela Brown can apparently be heard speaking to a group participant in a hushed tone.
“America is great, because we’re good,” Brown appears to say. (RELATED: NBC Fact Checks Trump Six Times, Hillary Zero)
Then, aware she is back on the air, Brown asks the same participant what anti-Trump argument from Clinton impressed her most. The participant responds with a close approximation of what Brown had just said to her seconds before.
“She stated that America is already great, and I tend to agree with that,” the panel member says. “Though we are slow in progressing in a number of ways, we are progressing and we need to continue the momentum.” (RELATED: Trump Warns Hillary: If I Win, You’ll Be In Jail)
This brief exchange is being interpreted by many as proof CNN was coaching focus group member about what to say on the air. Within just a few hours of being uploaded, the video collected nearly 150,000 views. There are other possible explanations, though; Brown may have been informing focus group members about what clip CNN had just aired (since they couldn’t see the replay themselves), or Brown could have been setting up a semi-staged response after previously finding out what the focus group member wanted to say.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to CNN for comment but did not immediately receive a reply.
Update: A source at CNN told TheDCNF Monday morning Brown was prompting the focus group member about what video was being shown, so that she could react to it.
Bill Clarkin, a member of the focus group, also contacted TheDCNF and denied any coaching occurred.
“There was no coaching,” Clarkin said. “Pamela Brown was repeating the comment made by Hillary to us because we could not watch the live feed.”
Update #2: CNN provided an official statement from a spokesperson saying it was “absurd” to suggest the focus group had been coached.
“The focus group was not able to hear or see the post-debate segment,” the statement says. “Brown described the segment in real time so they would know what was being discussed. It’s absurd to think she was coaching the focus group in anyway.”
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