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CNN's Dana Bash Hits Klobuchar from Left on Crime

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Sunday's State of the Union show on CNN, as fill-in host Dana Bash interviewed Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, instead of pressing her on whether she really is a "moderate" as many journalists have described her, the CNN host hit her from the left on whether she was too touch on criminals as a prosecutor, and invited her be critical of a couple of her Democratic opponents and the Trump administration.

Bash began by cuing up her guest to be go after the Trump administration over the issue of Attorney General Bill Barr recommending a lesser sentence for Trump associate Roger Stone. The CNN host then brought up the Democratic primaries, and pressed her from the left on her record as a prosecutor in Minnesota.

Noting that Klobuchar will soon be competing in states with more minorities, Bash posed: "Your time as a prosecutor in Hennepin County, Minnesota is getting more scrutiny. So I want to ask you about that. I want you to listen to what you said when you were running for prosecutor in 1998."

After a clip from July 1998 of then-prosecutorial candidate Klobuchar advocating for enforcing the law against criminals, Bash suggested her guest had been too tough as she finished her question: "So that tough on crime approach has now been linked to racial disparities in the criminal justice system. So, in retrospect, do you regret that?"

After Klobuchar claimed that she was not actually advocating in all cases for strict prison time, but for other lesser punishments as well, Bash further pressed her as she followed up:

BASH: Okay, so from 2002 to 2004, more than 60 percent of juveniles brought to the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center were black, according to a Council on Crime and Justice study, even though only around 10 percent of the county's overall population was black. You've been clear that you believe that there was racism in the justice system, but, given that, given the stats from back then, do you take any responsibility for the racial disparities in the criminal justice system on your watch?

The CNN host then switched to asking Senator Klobuchar for her reaction to criticisms of her opponents from the Democratic primaries, Michael Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders. Regarding Senator Sanders, Bash asked her only question from a right-leaning point of view as she wondered if his identify as a "democratic socialist" would hurt Democrats in congressional elections.

Below is the list of questions Bash asked of Senator Klobuchar during the Sunday, February 16, State of the Union on CNN:

DANA BASH: I want to start, first of all, on the crisis in the Justice Department after the Attorney General, Bill Barr, dialed back sentencing recommendations for Trump associate Roger Stone. Nine of your Democratic colleagues -- including Senators Warren and Sanders -- have called for the Attorney General to resign. Do you think he should resign?

[SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN)]

Okay, so, Senator, let's talk about where you are now, the primary, and the calendar is about to get in the states where you are about to get much more diverse. You finished very strong in New Hampshire, as you well know. And because of all of that, your time as a prosecutor in Hennepin County, Minnesota is getting more scrutiny. So I want to ask you about that. I want you to listen to what you said when you were running for prosecutor in 1998.

AMY KLOBUCHAR (from July 1998): When you look at the crime rate in Hennepin County, it's not acceptable. We have to look at making sure that there's a consequence when someone commits a crime. When you see the dramatic reduction in crime in other parts of the country, we can learn a lot from what they're doing, and they're enforcing the law down the line.

BASH: So that tough on crime approach has now been linked to racial disparities in the criminal justice system. So, in retrospect, do you regret that?

[SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN)]

BASH: Okay, so from 2002 to 2004, more than 60 percent of juveniles brought to the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center were black, according to a Council on Crime and Justice study, even though only around 10 percent of the county's overall population was black. You've been clear that you believe that there was racism in the justice system, but, given that, given the stats from back then, do you take any responsibility for the racial disparities in the criminal justice system on your watch?

[KLOBUCHAR]

BASH: Senator,  I want to turn now to one of your opponents for the Democratic nomination, Mayor Mike Bloomberg. There's a report in The Washington Post this weekend that paints a sweeping picture of him making crass sexual comments, objectifying women, creating a sexist culture in the workplace. I want to be clear -- Bloomberg has denied the allegations. He said on Twitter that he has zero tolerance for an environment where women aren't respected. What do you make of the reports?

[KLOBUCHAR]

Before I let you go, I want to ask you about one other opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders. Congressman Dean Phillips, who is backing you, says that he thinks that there are probably 25 to 30 seats that absolutely would be impacted directly by having a self-avowed democratic socialist at the top of the ticket. Do you think Democrats would lose the House if Bernie Sanders were the nominee?

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