Media Follow Lead of Left-Wing Groups in Grover Norquist Attack

Liberals can’t stand Grover Norquist. For years, they have lambasted and name-called Norquist, the president of American’s for Tax Reform: a staunch anti-tax hike group. But now the liberal media is also focused on him, in some cases rejoicing that he might lose his “stranglehold” over Republicans on the issue of taxes.

Left-wing websites like Daily Kos, Salon and The Huffington Post all exude vitriol with phrases like “idiot terrorist,” “anti-tax jihadist,” “enemy of the state” and “anti-tax fetishist.” HuffPo has been gleefully reporting about GOP tax “defectors” for over a year, long before it became the liberal media’s obsession.

While network and cable news programs haven’t been quite as insulting distain for his views have been clear. CNN’s Ali Velshi called him a “dangerous man” on Nov. 30. The media seem to have followed the lead of the left by obsessing over Norquist and his no tax hikes pledge. Norquist has been specifically mentioned in at least 10 network news reports about taxes and the fiscal cliff from Nov. 12 to Nov. 27, usually in stories touting Republicans who wanted  to “mutiny” on tax increases. The Nov. 25, 2012, Sunday news talk shows also had three discussions mentioning him.

Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell lobbied Sen. Bob Corker, to commit to tax increases and “forgo the pledge because it is outdated” on the Nov. 25, CBS “This Morning.” roughly a week earlier, CNN’s Christine Romans and Soledad O’Brien had teamed up to pressure a Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to tear up the no-tax hike pledge as well.

Network websites and many other news outlets have broached the topic. Brian Montopoli wrote on CBSNews.com suggested that much of the GOP is hostage to their pledges not to raise taxes and by other “powerful” groups like Club for Growth. CNN’s Piers Morgan belittled Norquist to his face, saying “Everyone [is] laughing at you from afar.” In that interview, Morgan also called the pledge “farcical.”

Even more recently, on Dec. 2, ABC’s Cokie Roberts called it “politically smart to cut the knees out of from under Grover Norquist.” And the print media has also been on the attack. The New York Times has printed multiple stories and editorials railing against Norquist, including Frank Bruni’s column “Is Grover Finally Over?” In that he declared “Pledges are for purists, who have no place in a democracy.”

But long before the liberal news media jumped on the idea people were ditching Norquist’s pledge, left-wing website The Huffington Post had been reporting gleefully about Republicans trying to defect. A full year earlier, In Nov. 2011, long before the current debate over the fiscal cliff and potential tax increases, HuffPo’s Luke Johnson wrote that “a growing number of House lawmakers” wanted to back out of their pledges to “never raise taxes.” One of the lawmakers they mentioned was Rep. Steven LaTourette of Ohio. The same story cited Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s claim that the Republicans were “being led like puppets” by Norquist.

Another popular left-wing website, Salon.com, also attacked Norquist using labels like “anti-tax fanatic” and “anti-tax jihadist” way back in the summer of 2011. That article by Joan Walsh, called “Standing up to the hostage-takers” was critical of Obama’s “compromise” on the debt ceiling. Another Salon piece, from February 2009, portrayed him as crazy, criticizing “the loopy mendacity of Grover Norquist.”

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.