A Tilted CNN 'Town Hall' for Hillary: Five Questions from the Left, One from the Right

When CNN held a “town hall” meeting for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, the evidence suggests it would be stacked to the Left. Our analysis of “town hall” presidential debates has shown a persistent two-to-one tilt of liberal questions versus conservative questions from audience members.

True to form, CNN host Christiane Amanpour selected five questions from the liberal agenda, and only one from the right – wondering if Obama pulled out of Iraq too quickly. There were five neutral questioners, but four were softballs like what words she would use to describe herself.

The first citizen questioner offered the Iraq question from the right: “Dorothea Wolfson from Johns Hopkins University.Secretary Clinton, Iraq is in crisis and may fall to the terrorist group ISIS. Do you believe that President Obama was wrong in quitting Iraq, as he did in 2011? And what should the United States do moving forward?”

Then came five citizen questions from the Left, on a variety of topics.

Illegal immigration. “My name is Francisco Gonzalez. I'm a professor at SAIS...which is part of Johns Hopkins. We train many...worthy individuals who worked for you at the State Department. My question, bringing you back to the home front for a bit, by the time President Obama steps down, around three million individuals will have been deported under his watch. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, President Obama has come to be known among the growing Hispanic population in the U.S. as the deporter-in-chief. Thousands of hard-working families in the U.S. have been split by force as a consequence of this policy. If you were to reenter politics, what would you do about this?

Gay marriage.  Amanpour announced online questions, too. “And this I'm going to read because it's from Tumblr, who we're partnering with. So, here we go. "Just to clarify with Hillary Clinton's anti-marriage equality stance in the 1990s-early 2000s, a reflection of her own views at the time or simply because she didn't think most American citizens were prepared to accept it? This was brought up on NPR's 'Fresh Air' but Clinton did not give a solid answer at the time." So, is it time for radical candor?”

Legalizing marijuana. Amanpour then asked: “We have another Tumblr question. And this is about marijuana..."What are your outlooks on recreational and medicinal marijuana? And how does it make you feel that states are now legalizing pot for both uses?”

Gun control. “My name is Gail Santa Maria. I'm from Maryland. I'm a teacher. My question is about guns. I'm very concerned about the proliferation of guns in America, especially as it pertains to school shootings. Do you think that that reinstating the ban on assault weapons and banning high capacity magazines would do any good?”

Mrs. Clinton said “Yes, I do.” Santa Maria replied: “Good.”

Paid maternity leave. “Hi, my name is Margie Arguelle from the Johns Hopkins University. Secretary Clinton, my question is, are there any plans to lobby for the proposed Family Act or to create legislation that would provide paid maternal leave for women in the workforce?”

The neutral questions were mostly softballs.

– “If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?”

– “I just wanted to know that my generation is very dissatisfied with the partisanship in Washington and across the country. What steps should be taken to improve bipartisanship and also where do you see the relationship between the Senate, the House and the executive branch in the next decade or so?”

– "Do you and Bill have differing opinions when it comes to any political matter, and if so, which ones?

– "Why run? Why would you run for such a dangerous and very stressful job when you have a precious grandbaby on the way? Retire! Relax! Enjoy life!"

The only one that was turned into a hardball was on early question on Syria: “I'm wondering on the issue of Syria, what you believe the administration can and should do into engage and support what remains of the moderate opposition and take a more active role in addressing the humanitarian crisis?”

Following up, Amanpour really pressed on Syria, and how the U.S. ambassador resigned in protest.

— Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center. Follow Tim Graham on Twitter.