Fmr MSNBC Analyst Crawford: Media ‘Playing into Dem Message’ That Tea Party Candidates Are ‘Insane’

Appearing as a guest on Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN, the Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford – formerly an MSNBC political analyst – admitted that the mainstream media have "listen[ed] too much to the Democratic message" that the Tea Party movement will harm Republicans rather than Democrats in this year’s congressional elections. He further charged that the media are "playing into that Democratic message that these candidates are insane." Crawford:

Sometimes we're wrong when we listen too much to the Democratic message. That's the Democratic party message, that the Tea Party is bad for them [Republicans]. I think we should scrutinize that a bit more, be a little more skeptical of it. The other is that they're all crazy. And that's the trouble with focusing on all these statements and everything. We're playing into that Democratic message that these candidates are insane.

A bit earlier, after host Howard Kurtz observed that the media do not "respect" Tea Party candidates and "some of us seem to be looking down our noses at these insurgents," Crawford lamented: "Yeah, and I hate to see the mainstream media doing that because I certainly respect them and their politics. They have been very successful."

Crawford notably has a history of criticizing conservatives for charging that the media are biased against them in his book, "Attack the Messenger: How Politicians Turn You Against the Media." Last March, he also famously resigned from MSNBC, and, in a comment thread on his CQ blog, complained about the left turn the network had taken: "I simply could not any longer endure being a cartoon player for lefty games, just gotta move on to higher ground even if there’s no oxygen."

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Sunday, September 19, Reliable Sources on CNN:

HOWARD KURTZ: Craig Crawford, let's look at the political fallout. Whether we're talking about Christine O'Donnell in Delaware or Joe Miller in Alaska or Sharron Angle in Nevada, these people went out and beat establishment candidates, often with not a lot of money. Shouldn't journalists respect that? Instead there seems to be, well, this is mutual antagonism, we seem to be, some of us, I don't want to include everybody, some of us seem to be looking down our noses at these insurgents and they don't seem to be big fans of the mainstream media.

CRAIG CRAWFORD, CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY: Yeah, and I hate to see the mainstream media doing that because I certainly respect them and they're politics. They have been very successful. The thing about the Tea Party that strikes me is it's very similar in particular their fiscal conservative views to the Perot movement. And this argument that they're bad for Republicans doesn't wash as much with me because at least they're inside the Republican party. The Perot people were outside the party and much more damaging to Republicans.

KURTZ: Craig, just briefly, what about this instant journalistic wisdom when these candidates, Christine O'Donnell being the latest, well, of course it hurts Republicans because they're all going to lose in november, they're too extreme, it's one thing to win, you know, 30,000 votes in Delaware, another thing to win in state election. We've been wrong all year on some of these races. Could we be wrong again.

CRAWFORD: Sometimes we're wrong when we listen too much to the Democratic message. That's the Democratic party message, that the Tea Party is bad for them [Republicans]. I think we should scrutinize that a bit more, be a little more skeptical of it. The other is that they're all crazy. And that's the trouble with focusing on all these statements and everything. We're playing into that Democratic message that these candidates are insane.

KURTZ, LAUGHING: Journalists, of course, are perfectly sane. We all know that.