Maeve Reston, CNN's national political reporter on the 2020 beat, has performed journalism on many of the leading candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. An analysis of her campaign coverage suggests Reston's approach to reporting on Democrats closely resembles the coverage President Donald Trump believes he ought to be receiving in light of his historically successful presidency.
Reston, who previously covered "the role of fashion in politics" for the Los Angeles Times, was writing glowing profiles of Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) long before the senator announced her (now defunct) primary campaign.
"She's a fresh face in the capital for a party desperately searching for a new generation of leaders and has a sense of youth, glamour and charisma that inevitably — if not always accurately — harkens back to Obama's first days on the political scene," Reston wrote in an April 2017 article on how Harris was "tossing out the rulebook" for freshman lawmakers by placing herself "at the center of the resistance to [Trump's] presidency."
In October 2018, several months before Harris officially launched her presidential campaign, Reston was in Iowa gushing about the prospective candidate's ability to woo voters.
"She's really gotten kind of a rockstar reception," Reston said on CNN. "Last night in Des Moines, you could really feel that electricity among about 500 people who showed up to see her."
After Harris officially declared her candidacy, Reston joined her on the campaign trail, where she peppered the candidate with tough questions about the issues most Americans care about, such as whether she would "try on this awesome oversized rainbow sequin jacket."
We kind of forced @kamalaharris to try on this awesome oversized rainbow sequin jacket ... She snapped it up. @alivitali perfectly named it as 'the Mardi Gras Jacket" #2020 #SouthCarolina #CampaignFashionReport pic.twitter.com/2G0NFRkKL6
— Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston) February 16, 2019
Reston also provided insightful analysis of the candidate's facial gesticulations.
Just a reminder that is very instructive to watch the expressions of @KamalaHarris — the skeptical squint, the arched eyebrow and the cold stare have ended up printed on T-shirts of her admirers all over the country.
— Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston) May 1, 2019
Reston was similarly effusive in her assessment of failed candidate Beto O'Rourke's incessant apologizing.
"[His] audience, they love that he is constantly reflecting, telling people what's in his head, I mean, that is his strength," she said in March 2019. "They want to hear him apologize."
Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden received the Reston treatment in an August 2019 article titled "Joe Biden hears your taunts about his age, but he's busy running for president." Reston described Biden, who was facing scrutiny over his old age and frequent verbal flubs, as "in the zone, relaxed and seemingly untroubled as he offered well wishers his skilled hand as they squinted in the bright sun, trying to position their iPhones for selfies with 'Uncle Joe.'"
The next day, Biden attended a gun-control forum in Des Moines, Iowa, where he erroneously claimed (twice) to have met with the students of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., while serving as vice president. The shooting occurred in February 2018, more than a year after he left office.
"Mistakes were made," Reston wrote of Biden's error. "But in comparison to a 73-year-old President [Trump] who eschews exercise and seems to prefer riding around in a golf cart to walking, Biden walks at a clip that sometimes makes it difficult for the throng of reporters and cameras to keep up."
Most recently, Reston has been covering
for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), a former top-tier candidate. Following October's primary debate, Reston declared Warren had "seized the mantle as the new front-runner in the Democratic field." Since then, the candidate's national poll numbers have declined significantly.
During the October debate, Warren refused on multiple occasions to say whether her Medicare for All proposal would raise taxes on middle-class families. (It would.) Reston described the noteworthy occasion as Warren "fending off attacks on ... whether she is capable of a yes-or-no answer on taxes." (She was not.)
In recent weeks, as Democratic support for government-run health care has eroded in national polling, Warren has watered down her support for an ambitious Medicare for All plan, angering some progressive activists in the process. In a CNN article published earlier this week, Reston appeared to downplay Warren's flip-flop as a "rhetorical shift" involving "new, notable language."
After the Washington Free Beacon published government records that appeared to contradict Warren's oft-repeated claim that she was fired from her job as a New Jersey public school teacher because she was pregnant, Reston rushed to Warren's defense.
"Of course it's our job as reporters to check out every story, as we do, but you know this is so much a part of the different treatment that female candidates often get on the campaign trail," Reston said on CNN after dismissing questions about Warren's account as "conspiracy theories" being pushed by "right-wing media sites."
Questions about Warren's honesty and credibility remain, despite the mainstream media's lack of interest. In November, the candidate said "my kids went to public school" when confronted by a school-choice activist in Atlanta. Warren's comment was misleading at best: Her son Alex attended the elite Haverford School for boys beginning in sixth grade, the Free Beacon reported.
Here is Reston's latest dispatch from the Warren campaign: