CNN's Costello Floats Bill Maher's, Al Gore's Ideas of Liberal Tea Party

With such esteemed liberal intellectual heavyweights like comedian Bill Maher and Al Gore calling for the liberal grassroots to stand up and make their voices heard, CNN's Carol Costello floated the idea of a liberal version of the Tea Party on Monday.

"Does America need a liberal Tea Party?" Costello asked during the 11 a.m. EDT hour of CNN's Newsroom. Costello was not completely enthusiastic over the idea – she worried that it could "lead to more hyper-partisanship," as if the Tea Party was already doing enough of that.

The innocuous question stands in stark contrast with CNN's original treatment of the Tea Parties that sprouted up on April 15, 2009. One CNN correspondent in particular condemned a Tea Party rally as "anti-government," "anti-CNN," and "not really family viewing."

However, CNN was content to wonder about the idea of a liberal Tea Party and reach out to its viewers on the matter. The network quoted comedian Bill Maher and Al Gore, who both called for the liberal grassroots to make its voice heard – one in a serious way, and one in a comic way. Grassroots movements begin at the populist level, like the Tea Party – not exactly with the elitists calling for one.

Maher, in a shot at the Tea Party, comically suggested liberals form a Donner Party, since the original Donner Party of pioneers resorted to cannibalism of their own. Gore, on Current TV's Countdown, called for an "American Spring" like the recent "Arab Spring" – "a nonviolent change where people from the grassroots get involved again."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on August 8 at 11:08 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

CAROL COSTELLO: You can't have too many tea parties, right Suzanne?

(Laughter)

COSTELLO: Yeah.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: What does that mean?

COSTELLO: Well let me tell you. American liberals are doing a lot of soul-searching right now. Many are furious with President Obama and say he caved to the right wing on budget cuts without getting tax increases in return because, I'm sure you've heard, Republicans won't even go there. CNN contributor Julian Zelizer says liberals need to play their trump card.

He says, "Democrats are frequently scared to say what a majority of Americans think. The public has favored raising taxes on the wealthy to help lower the deficit." So, what to do? HBO host Bill Maher says liberals need a radical wing of their own called the "Donner Party," named after the American pioneers who had to turn to cannibalism to survive.

(Video Clip)

BILL MAHER, host, Real Time With Bill Maher: We need loudmouths and bad dressers who can match the Tea people maniac for maniac. You say no new taxes on the rich? We say tax the rich at 100 percent. Apparently, crazy is the new sensible, and we will not lose the war of bad ideas.

(End Video Clip)

COSTELLO: On Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" show, former vice president Al Gore called the debt deal an outrage that abandoned majority rule. If you believe that, he says, then you should rise up.

(Video Clip)

AL GORE, former vice president of the United States: We need to have an "American Spring," a kind of an American Tahrir Square, a nonviolent change where people from the grassroots get involved again.

(End Video Clip)

COSTELLO: That, Gore says, would even the playing field. But is that really what America needs? Would an "American Spring" or a Donner Party just lead to more hyper-partisanship?

So, the "Talk Back" question today: Does America need a liberal Tea Party?

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014